bee on flower

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Editor’s note: The following blog post is by Heights Park resident Christy Erickson. If you are interested in writing for HeightsPark.com, email contact@heightspark.com.

By Christy Erickson

The latest news about bees is not good.

The worldwide population of bees has dropped dramatically. In the United States, 44 percent of bee colonies have disappeared, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently declared a species of bumblebee as endangered.

This is a big problem for our country and our food supply. A strong bee population is vital to crops like apples, berries, coffee, cotton and others. If the bees disappear, our diet will suffer. That’s why it’s important for us to take a few steps to support bees. One of the best ways you can help is by building a garden. Thankfully, that’s easy to do, even if you’re new to gardening.

Pollination Is Absolutely Necessary

Here’s why bees are so important to your food supply — pollination. When bees visit flowers for their food, they collect pollen. When they visit another flower, that pollen fertilizes the plant and helps a new generation grow. Without pollination, a crop will disappear without any replacement.

Many of the crops bees pollinate are ones you depend on for food, such as:

  • Apples
  • Coffee
  • Carrots
  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers

Bees even pollinate crops that cows eat, such as alfalfa. If the bee population continues to dwindle, many foods will become scarce — and thereby expensive — or even disappear completely.

Even Small Gardens Can Help When Done Right

You can help. It’s as easy is building a garden that’s friendly to bees.

Adding a simple garden to your yard provides bees with a great food source. Keeping them well-fed can help them reproduce and increase their population.

Honey Love, a nonprofit dedicated to protecting bees, offers tips for designing bee-friendly gardens. Some of the recommendations are:

  • Use a wide variety of native plants.
  • Pick different kinds of plants so you have flowers from March until October.
  • Include some patches of uncovered dirt.
  • Add some water so bees can bathe and drink.

To pick which flowers to include, talk to your local garden supply store or read this article by Bee Friendly. Just remember to focus on flowers that are native to your region. Those are the plants that bees in your area know to find, so it can make it easier for them to reach your garden.

You also don’t need a ton of space or a “green thumb.” You can create a great garden in pots or window boxes. And all the gardening know-how you really need is how to dig and water.

Support for Bees Beyond Flowers

Maintaining a garden is a great way to help bees. To go beyond this, National Geographic lists some other ways you can help.

  • Don’t cover all the spare ground near your home in mulch. Bees can nest in the ground, so leaving some open patches of dirt can help bees thrive.
  • Avoid pesticides and weed killers. These poisons can kill bees. Instead, use natural pest-eaters like aphids, and hand-pull weeds.
  • Install a bee block in your backyard near your new garden. You can find them in garden stores, and they’re good homes for bees.
  • Get involved. Contact the City of Richardson about adding bee-friendly plants to public parks and similar spaces.
Protecting Bees Helps You

Some people view bees as stinging insects that need to be eliminated. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Bees are vital to the food supply in this country. That’s why you need to take action now to help bees. A nice garden, some spare ground, and skipping pesticides can make a big difference in helping the bee population recover — and keep our food supply out of danger.

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