Every Bee Counts

Not much gets us moving quicker than a bee buzzing around our head. We swat and dodge trying not to get stung. Maybe you were wearing a bright yellow shirt or your hair smelled of sweet shampoo. Either way it was getting way too friendly! As much as smacking this nuisance might make us feel safe from being stung its best to keep calm and buzz on. 

Pollinators are a vital resource and we need them.  Honey bees pollinate a long list of fruits and nuts, vegetables and field crops. The loss of these hard workers in large numbers has been reported and attributed to Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) where healthy workers are abandoning their hives in droves. It’s not fully understood why they are behaving this way but research points to the possibility of exposure to pesticides, parasites or a virus that may effect the insect. 

Bee on SunflowerCredit: Sharon Rico Young

You can encourage the healthy development of colonies by planting pollinator-friendly  flowers and using natural or organic pest controls or fertilizers. Helpful plants that attract and support pollinators are flowers that have visible and easily accessible pollen or nectar. Some ideas are

  • plant sunflowers or cone flowers (also known as Echinacea) 
  • add flowering fruit trees to your landscape
  • plant Passion Flower (which is also an edible landscape plant that is beneficial to humans when prepared properly)
  • leave the dandelion and clover considered weeds which are excellent summer food source for bees
  • great flower colors for attracting pollinators are yellow, white, blue and purple so try not to wear these colors in summer if your allergic to stings!
  • adding live ladybugs or mantid to your garden are great natural pest control
  • nutrient rich soil from a well decomposed natural compost pile is good fertilizer
  • you can always check your local eco-friendly nursery for natural products available

Contributing to the wellbeing of our pollinators will make a difference. Consider this the next time you find a bee trapped in your home buzzing endlessly at a window trying to get out–instead of swatting the little guy try helping him out. Open the window and doors and he may fly right out. The bee will only have so much energy and will cease moving and begin to die when he runs out of fuel. You can actually save him if you find him in time.  Most drained honey bees will not sting since they are reserving all of their energy for survival, however, if you're allergic to bee stings, don't try this part. To give him a boost and a way to get back home simply mix a little white sugar and water and feed it to him. If sugar isn't available, fruit juice, diluted pancake or corn syrup or clear soda will work! Be careful not to get any of the sticky liquid on his wings! If the insect isn't moving at all, gently place him onto a plate and offer a drop of sugar-water on the end of a tooth pick and place it near his mouth. Once the bee recognizes the sweet substance it will stick its tongue-like proboscis into the sugar and drink it up. You’ll see fast results as he begins to perk up and move around. Be careful not to drop him as he recovers and is getting his bearings. Move the dish outside and when the bee begins buzzing its wings he can safely take flight outdoors!

feeding bee sugar waterCredit: Sharon Rico Young

I've fed a few hungry honey bees and noticed that they tend to return to the same area where they received the sugar-water as if they've stored the coordinates! It is a neat feeling knowing that I've actually helped a bee get back home to be able to pollinate another day! 

Loud Buzzing Bees

Taking Care of Business