What You Can Do To Help Honey Bees

by Pat Allen, Extension Master Gardener (EMG)

Originally published in Stanly Quarterly Gardener on Janury 15, 2019

As gardeners we’re often asked what we can do to care for honeybees. As you may have heard, honeybees are under threat worldwide because of virulent viruses against which they have no natural

Many colonies in the wild have died out and without gardeners to care for them, honeybees could disappear quickly. Below is a list of eight things you can do to help honey bees.

  1. Become a beekeeper. Beekeeping is an enjoyable, fascinating and interesting hobby – and you get to eat your own honey.
  2. Find space for a beehive in your garden, if possible. Many would-be beekeepers, especially in urban areas, find it difficult to find a safe space for their colony of bees. If you can’t keep bees then;
  3. Buy honey prepared by local beekeepers. This helps the beekeeper recover costs and supports local honey beekeepers who must comply with all food standard requirements.
  4. Ask your political officials to finance research in honey bee health. Beekeepers are concerned that we do not have enough information to combat diseases that affect honeybees.
  5. Help protect swarms. Swarming is a natural process when honeybee colonies increase their numbers. Honeybees in a swarm are usually very gentle and present very little danger, if left alone. Wait for the beekeeper to arrive.
  6. Throw used honey containers away. Most honey brought in from overseas contains bacteria and spores that are very harmful to local honeybees. If you leave a honey jar outside it encourages honeybees to feed on the remaining honey. This could infect local honeybees and in turn the bees would infect the rest of the colony resulting in death of the colony.
  7. Invite a beekeeper to speak at a local group. Honeybees have been on earth for about 25 million years and have adapted to their environment.
  8. Bee aware of your bee-havior. When kept properly, bees are good neighbors and only sting when provoked. If a bee hovers inquiringly in front of you do not wave your hands. Stay calm and slowly move to a shaded area. The bee will soon lose interest.
  9. Limit your use of pesticides that could be harmful to bees. By law, pesticides must have a label stating if they are harmful to bees. Follow label instructions on how to apply any and allpesticides.

    Resource: Dr Ivor Davis, master beekeeper and past president of the British Beekeepers’ Association.