Odds are, at some point in the last decade, you’ve heard the phrase “save the bees”.  So what is happening to the bees, why are they so important to us as humans, and most importantly, how can we help?  Over the past 10 years, beekeepers globally have seen dramatic declines in their bee populations.  If you’re interested in more information about what is causing the bee populations to suffer, check out this website or this quick video.

bee-approaching-the-flower

Why are bees important?

Bees are extremely effective pollinators, which means they move pollen to help plants reproduce.  This increases fruit and crop yields, and therefore farmers depend on pollination by the bees for productive crops.  Consumers then depend on the bees in turn for affordable food.  Bees are such successful and hard-working pollinators that it is estimated they are responsible for about one third of the food we eat.

The good news is that there are many easy ways to help save the bees. Below is a list of just a few options to help you do your part.

bee pollinating a flower

Plant bee friendly flowers

Bees are losing habitat as the world becomes more developed, but this is easily remedied by planting flowers for them to forage in your garden.  Planting large amounts of the same blooms together can be especially helpful, as bees love the volume.

Wondering which flowers are best suited for your garden? This link provides a great list of plants which are popular with bees.

tulips-2173778_1280

Bees like water too!

Do you already have a garden full of flowers which is attracting a lot of bees? Do them a favor and leave out a dish of water to drink from.  Bees don’t like to get their feet wet as they collect water, so a shallow dish filled with water and some small rocks for them to perch on is ideal.

water dish

Try using natural methods of pest control

Although there is no one cause of the decline of bee populations, it is suspected that the widespread use of pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers is largely responsible.  Instead of using these chemicals in your own garden, try using some natural methods of pest control.  In addition to being better for environment, using natural methods can help save you money.  One of the easiest ways to reduce the amount of pests in your garden is to have birdhouses.  This is a great way to use nature to control pests naturally, as they provide nesting grounds for birds which will then feed on garden pests.

bird house

Eat local honey

By eating local honey you can help support local farmers, and help beekepers cover their costs.  Beekeepers and farmers often work hand in hand as both sides depend on the health of bees.  Agricultural land provides a much needed source of food for honeybees, and in return, bees pollinate crops and help farmers produce a more bountiful harvest.  Bubbee’s Farm in Pemberton is a great example of this, as they manage four beehives which they use to pollinate their crops.  They also extract and sell their raw honey to the public in the fall.  The Fairmont Chateau Whistler manages four hives whose bees pollinate local flowers and produce honey that is used by the hotel’s chefs.  You can read more about the Fairmont’s ‘Bee Sustainable’ program here.  Consuming raw honey, as opposed to processed, ensures that you reap the many health benefits that honey provides.  These include its antibacterial and antifungal properties, in addition to being a great source of antioxidants.

raw honey

Eat organic

Many inorganic food crops are grown using pesticides suspected to harm bees, such as neonicotinoid and systemic pesticides.  Try growing your own fruits and vegetables at home; this makes eating organic a much more affordable option.  And if growing your own produce isn’t for you, eating organically grown produce ensures that you aren’t supporting the use of harmful pesticides.  If you only select a few organic items at the grocery store, choose those that are pollinated by bees and other pollinators.  Some examples of these include apples, pears, courgettes, tomatoes, berries, and almonds.  The Whistler Farmers’ Market opens for the season on May 21st and is great place to find fresh, local, organically grown produce.

organic produce

Raise awareness

Finally, one of the most important things you can do to help save the bees is to spread the word.  If you don’t have the means to plant your own garden, maybe you have a friend or family member who does.  Encourage others to do their part, and together we will be able to make a difference, and hopefully save the bees!