To Save The Bees (Part I) Do Nothing

This post was originally published in 2016 and again in 2018 but since I have many new followers since it was last posted I thought it was worth repeating. Thanks for reading.

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Recently someone sent me an email which contained this picture. Her comment was, “I thought this was interesting”. Since she thought it was interesting I thought other readers might think so as well.

This is the time of year when people start itching to get outside and beautify their yards, so it’s the perfect time to write about it.  While I think the photo (above) is good, I’d like to offer some other thoughts, ideas and links for reference.

It you have access to pretty much any media source you have probably heard in recent years about the honey bees being in danger. There have been countless stories of mysterious bee die-offs and colony collapse disorder. When we tell people that we are bee keepers, we often get comments about the bees disappearing and people seem to have varying degrees of knowledge on the topic. Disturbing as it is, I won’t go into my thoughts on the many causes of this, but instead focus on what individuals can do to, as the above photo says, “Help Save The Bees”. I have found this website to be a good resource https://savebees.org/ if you want to know more about the topic.

I think it is important to note that it is not only the honey bees that are in danger. The honey bee is the one we most often think of and are probably most concerned with because we humans have become managers of the honey bee. We put them in homes (hives), where we want them, and feed or medicate them when we feel it is necessary. We then utilize their services for pollenating our crops and we rob them of their products (honey, wax, pollen, propolis) for our consumption. Other bee types, each with their own attributes, are disappearing as well. Even though we don’t get honey or other products from them these other bees, wasps, and hornets they still play important roles in nature,  doing things like pollinating plants and helping control insect populations by feeding on insects and caterpillars.

I do think that rather than sit on our hands and wait years for the government to come up with a plan and then spend millions of dollars on it, that most of us have the power to do some little things that can make a difference.

In addition to the message in the above picture, I’ll offer the following suggestions:

#1. Do Nothing – I’m not trying to confuse you when I say that the first action that should be considered, and is quite appropriate in many situations, is to do nothing. What I mean is let nature take its course. We often see bees, hornets and wasps as dangerous and feel the need to exterminate them from our space, so when we find a nest we are quick to seek ways to get rid of it. Sometimes, they do indeed, build nests in buildings, or equipment, or other places where they just can’t stay, so it is necessary to get rid of them. Other times it may be possible to allow them to stay.

Last year, for example, we discovered a bald faced hornets nest in the tree in front of our house. The nest was about 12 feet up and hung over the street. It was also near my parking place in the driveway. My first thought was that it was dangerous for whoever cut the grass, it was also potentially dangerous for people riding bikes or walking under that tree, I wondered if they would become disturbed by my entering and exiting my vehicle, and heaven forbid some kids should decide to play ball in the street and hit that nest. My husband and I talked about it and decided that if these hornets became aggressive we would then remove the nest. These hornets visited our deck daily but I only saw one or two at a time. They would fly around but never attempted to sting. I did observe them eating other insects. They never seemed disturbed by the grass being cut or our being in the area of their nest. We were able to peacefully coexist and I feel good about our decision to let them stay. If at all possible give bees, wasps and hornets their (or a piece of your) space.

#2 Do Nothing – Another way to do nothing, or let nature take its course, is to let wild flowers grow and blossom, thus providing food for the bees. Unfortunately we have come to think of many of the blossoms that the bees feed on as unsightly weeds. In our area bees forage on the dandelions and clover in our lawns and in addition they forage on things like golden rod, asters, thistle blossoms and many other (weeds) that  grow in fields and along ditches. So instead of cutting , pulling or using herbicides to eradicate these weeds, we can decide to “do nothing”. Enjoy seeing the dandelions blossom in your yard or the thistle and golden rod take over a field or the side of the ditch and know they are a beautiful source of food for the bees.

I also want to share my thoughts about planting for the bees but have decided to do that in a separate post, so stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

27 thoughts on “To Save The Bees (Part I) Do Nothing

  1. It is so sad for me to see people spraying weeds with chemicals. If they don’t like them, then pulling them out works too but leave them out for awhile so the bees can butterflies can get some food from them. Sometimes we leave ours out for a little too long and the city will give us a ticket and fine us if we don’t get rid of them. We don’t have a regular HOA here in our neighborhood but my son always jokes that the city is one bog HOA.

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    1. When we first bought our farm the neighbor across the street would drive his tractor down the road and spray all the ditches with weed killer. When my husband politely told him we didn’t want him spraying our ditches he got offended. I do think HOA’s and the like are a big problem because even if people would like to opt out of lawn treatments the HOA gives them no choice.

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      1. I’m a reluctant gardener. A nice little garden came with the house. The owners said all I’d have to do was keep things cut back. That was a big job!! I didn’t know what I was doing, and the plants took over. Things are contained for the moment. Spring is about to unleash her power. It’s only a matter of days until I’ll have to spend several hours a week out there.

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      2. LOL. Some plants can’t be over pruned. I am certainly looking forward to spring unleashing her power here but I think it will be several weeks before she shows up here.

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    1. Oh yellow jacket stings are the worst and in ground nests are hard to get rid of. If you have a skunk in the neighborhood you could invite it over to dine in your garden. It would probably make short work and a great meal out of the yellow jackets and nature would be taking it’s course.

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      1. You are spot on, Ruth. One morning I walked outside carefully and found a big hole in the ground where the nest had been. We weren’t sure if a skunk or raccoon had feasted on the critters. I’m glad they are gone.

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      2. Wicked little parasites! I know you love both words and music so I think you will appreciate this. When we first started bee keeping my musician daughter suggested that we could call our bee keeping operation bee natural but use the music symbol for natural instead of the word. I think few would understand the symbol though.

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