Saving Wild Bees

 

We’re midway through summer so I’m sure you have become all too familiar with bees by this point. My thoughts around this time usually aren’t “Wow we really need to save the bees” its usually more like “wow there’s so many of you please don’t sting me.” But even though it may seem like there’s a lot of bees flying around to interrupt our summer fun, we’re still losing our most important pollinators at a high rate.

I’ve already talked about the dilemma of whether vegans should eat honey and although I haven’t come up with a solid decision on that argument, I have decided that either way it honestly doesn’t matter. Because we still aren’t doing anything to help bring the bee population back. We need to start focusing on wild bees instead of (/as well as) the bees that make our honey.

We can try to make sure that honey bees are treated well and given safe places to live, but there are so many more kinds of pollinating bees than just the honey bees – and all of them are suffering from climate change and deforestation. So one of the best ways to help the bees is to rebuild up their habitat by planting a native garden and providing shelter.

Native Garden

A huge problem for bees is the loss of their natural habitat, so as we attempt to give them the resources to rebuild their population, we should focus on providing them with places to live and plants to pollinate. As farming and landscaping take up more and more land, it is more important than ever to provide safe havens for bees and other insects by planting native plants.

I’m currently living in Washington so I just did a quick search online to find native plants and picked some of the prettiest ones. I’m planning on planting Orange Agoseris, Mountain Arnica, and Dwarf Hersperochiron to help attract bees to my yard and provide them with some native plants.

You can also plant flowers for butterflies providing them with a habitat to lay their eggs. Here a few I’m planning to plant for my local species: Milkweed for Monarchs, Redberry and California Lilac for the Pale Swallowtail, and Wild Anise for the Anise Swallowtail.

If you know your local butterfly species then you can use this list to help you determine which plants would be best for you to plant!

Providing Homes

As our wild forests become more and more rare so do housing opportunities for bees. So one of the best things you can do for bees is give them spaces to live. And the great thing is, these areas will mostly attract non-stinging solitary bees!

The easiest way is to simply leave a sunny section of your garden bare so ground dwelling bees can make their home there!

You can also create “bee hotels” for mason bees to live in. These can be made by drilling holes of 5/16″ in diameter, with a length of around 6″ into a block of wood. Or you can place hollow bamboo tubes (of about the same size) in a tin can or pot. Place this in your garden near a patch of mud so the bees can block in their eggs after they lay them.

Oooorrrr you can take the easier route (like I did) and buy a mason bee hotel! I absolutely love mine and I am so excited to start using it. It provides way more space for bees than anything I could have built and it provides places for caterpillars to build their chrysalis. You’ll want to place this in your garden near a patch of mud as well.

 

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