Bees and the pollination they provide are responsible for at least 70 of the top 100 food crops we eat. Every third bite of food you consume every day can be attributed to bees. Without bees, our world would be a much different (and likely a lot worse) place. That’s why it’s vital that we do what we can to help protect the bees in our own backyards. It’s also just as vital that we instill this love of the bees into our children. It will fall on them to continue to fight to save the bees. Here are some tips.
1. Teach your child the wonders of gardening
Grab a few dozen packets of seeds and get to starting your own garden - and make sure your children are involved in every step of the process. That’s the basic idea, though it’s a little more complicated than that.
There are certain types of plants that bees love and other types that they are just ok with. You want to make sure you fill your yard (or your porch planters, if you suffer from lack of outdoor yard space) with the types they truly love. Bees like flowers that are easy to access - so showy, ornate double petal varieties aren’t as bee-friendly. They also prefer yellows, blues, whites, and purples. You want to plant flowers that bloom in a staggered schedule from early spring to fall, so that there are at least some flowers blooming at all times. Here’s a good list of flowers that bees love for each season.
Lastly, you’ll want to plant as many vegetable plants, flowering plants, etc. from seed as you possibly can. This way you can instill a love of gardening in your child, as they will get to experience the wonders of life from germination to sprouting and growth, and eventually to blooming or bearing fruit. Making sure you give kids this sense of caring for something from seed to feed is vital for developing young gardeners.
2. Get involved with a local apiary
Seek out your local beekeepers and support them in every way you can. Many children will find beekeeping to be incredibly interesting and fun, and the more you can show them how cool bees really are, the more likely they are to carry the torch of bee conservancy into adulthood. Many local beekeepers are happy to share their passion with people, and if you can afford to sponsor a hive, you should. At the very least, you should buy all of your honey from these local apiaries. Small beekeepers are more likely to have better beekeeping practices.
Here’s a state-by-state resource for finding local beekeepers.
3. Go organic
While organic produce may cost a little more at the grocery store, you can get great deals on it at your local farmers markets and small farm stores. Look into getting summer CSA (community supported agriculture) deliveries instead of buying your produce at the supermarket. Local, organic farmers do not use the pesticides that we know harm bee colonies, so by supporting them you are directly supporting bees.
The decline of bee populations is a truly global problem, so we must train the next generation that they too will be responsible for saving these vital pollinators. Though it’s a global issue, local action is helpful. Do your part to help protect local populations by practicing bee-friendly gardening, supporting local beekeepers, and sustaining organic farming whenever you can.
Article by: Christy Erickson, firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo Credit: Pixabay.com