How to Protect Bees in Your Garden & Why You Should

A new study, Pollinators in Peril,” by the Center for Biological Diversity, has found that that 52 percent of native bee populations are declining and 24 percent are in serious threat of extinction, primarily due to pesticide use and severe habitat loss.

The evidence is overwhelming that hundreds of the native bees we depend on for ecosystem stability, as well as pollination services worth billions of dollars, are spiraling toward extinction. It’s a quiet but staggering crisis unfolding right under our noses that illuminates the unacceptably high cost of our careless addiction to pesticides and monoculture farming. Kelsey Kopec, a native pollinator researcher at the Center for Biological Diversity and author of the Pollinators in Peril study

If bees disappear, we will lose many of the foods we take for granted. Brian Paddock, owner of Capay Hills Orchard, an organic almond farm in central California, told NPR, “No bees, no almonds. It’s that simple.” And it doesn’t stop there. If bees die off, we’ll have to give up coffee, chocolate, many fruits and vegetables, and obviously honey. But, if we don’t figure out a way to protect bees, we could be the biggest losers.

Here are a few ways you can help protect bees.

OakleyOriginals – Flickr @ Creative Commons

Reduce or stop the use of pesticides and herbicides, especially when plants are in bloom. Neonicotinoid pesticides are toxic to bees, butterflies, and other essential insects.

Try not to buy plants that are pretreated with pesticides. How can you tell? If you see “protected” written in fine print on the label, the plant was chemically treated. The hybrid plants you find at big nurseries often have the pollen, nectar, and even scent bred out of them.

Cluster together different types of native flowering plants that bloom throughout the year, especially in the late summer and fall.

Leave parts of your garden wild. Bees love the clover that’s often found in grass, as well as pollen from wild flowers.

Provide a year-round source of clean water, such as a birdbath, for the bees. Be sure to include a few rocks or pebbles so they can land without drowning, and clean it regularly so you don’t attract mosquitos.

Give bees a place to live. Bees nest in trees cavities and like to hide under edges of objects, like rooflines. If you suspect a beehive is nearby, leave it!

Support local, organic farmers who do not use pesticides or herbicides that harm bees.

Pollinator Protection: 
Contact Us
Mail: Environmental Protection Agency
Office of Pesticide Programs
, Mail Code 7506C
1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW Washington DC 20460

EcoWatch – “347 Native Bee Species ‘Spiraling Toward Extinction’”
NPR’s The Salt – “Rise of The Robot Bees: Tiny Drones Turned Into Artificial Pollinators”

Bee photo courtesy of Totomaru – Flickr@Creative Commons