How to Help the Honey Bee
Honey bees are our friends. We need them to pollinate our flowers, plants and our nation’s food crops. Honey bees are very important to our environment and our planet.
Summer is a great time to adopt an important cause. The world honey bee population has been declining since 2006. Scientists are working hard to figure out why so many bees are dying and multiple causes may be to blame including pesticide use, viruses, parasites and insufficient food supply. Commercial food producers and people all over the world depend on honey bees to pollinate plants to grow food for humans and animals. In school, children learn that we are all responsible for the future sustainability of our ecosystem and our planet. Kids have the power to create awareness, to educate others, and to help reestablish endangered species.
What Kids Can Do
• Learn about honey bees. Check out books from the library and research honey bees on the internet. Study pictures to be able to recognize honey bees and other bee species.
• Look for honey bees in your yard and garden, at the park or at camp. Take pictures without getting too close. You can enlarge the photos to get a closer look. Appreciate bees while they are at work pollinating. Give them plenty of space and do not try to kill them.
• Plant native flowers in gardens, public gardens and flower pots. Honey bees are attracted to purple, blue, white and yellow flowers. Herbs, flowering fruit and vegetable plants will also nourish honey bees.
• Provide water for the honey bees to drink. They need to be able to stand near the edge of the water to drink or bathe. A shallow plastic dish of water with flat rocks in it will work. Honey bees will stand on the rocks to reach the water. Use a clear or light color bowl to keep the water from overheating.
• Honey bees love clover. Plant clover and if possible leave a meadow area of uncut grass in your yard. Let clover grow in your yard along with grass. Do not kill it with pesticides. Pesticides kill beneficial plants and bugs, and they pollute the soil. Use organic weed killers such as vinegar.
• Talk it up. Spread the word about encouraging honey bees in your community. Share about honey bees at camp or school. Make a poster, project, or webpage to educate people.
• Make flyers on your computer to educate people about attracting honey bees, by providing a habitat for them with flowers, plants and accessible water. Tell people not to use pesticide. Have kids color the flyers by hand with crayons or markers, or use computer clip art. Put the flyers in neighbor’s mailboxes and post around town on bulletin boards at the library, the town hall and the grocery store. Mail flyers to your local and state government officials, and to newspapers.
• Visit a beekeeping farm to learn more about harvesting honey. Look in books and online for images of beekeeping. Maybe your family will become interested in picking up beekeeping as a hobby.
• Buy local or US-made honey, rather than imported honey. Honey can be used in place of sugar in recipes. Try baking with honey, yum!
Websites About Honey Bees
- National Honey Board: www.honey.com
- USDA: www.usda.gov
- Natural Resources Defense Council: www.nrdc.org
- Bee Friendlier: http://bee-friendlier.com
- The Xerces Society: www.xerces.org/pollinator-resource-center This website offers comprehensive information about planting native plants that will support local pollinators.
Flowers To Attract Honey Bees
- Black-eyed Susan
Flowering Plants To Attract Honey Bees
- Flowering broccoli
Herbs To Attract Honey Bees
- Lemon Balm
- Bee Balm
Great Lakes Region Native Plants to Attract Honey Bees
- Wild Lupine
- Butterfly Milkweed
- Dotted Mint
- Purple Coneflower
- Purple Prairie Clover
- Great Blue Lobelia
- Wild Bergamot
To find more native plants visit Xerces.org
Sarah Yale is a nature-loving, working, writer mom, whose children are learning to love the natural world, and to do their part now and in the future, to sustain and preserve the planet.