How to help the bees
plant bee-friendly flowers and flowering herbs in your garden and yard
Bees are losing habitat all around the world due to intensive monoculture-based farming practices, pristine green (but flower-barren) sprawling suburban lawns and from the destruction of native landscapes. Just planting flowers in your garden, yard, or in a planter will help provide bees with forage. Avoid chemically treating your flowers as chemicals can leach into pollen and negatively affect the bees systems. Plant plenty of the same type of bloom together, bees like volume of forage (a sq. yard is a good estimate). Here are a few examples of good plant varieties: Spring – lilacs, penstemon, lavender, sage, verbena, and wisteria. Summer – Mint, cosmos, squash, tomatoes, pumpkins, sunflowers, oregano, rosemary, poppies, black-eyed Susan, passion flower vine, honeysuckle. Fall – Fuschia, mint, bush sunflower, sage, verbena, toadflax. For a great list of plants honeybees love click here.
weeds can be a god thing
Contrary to popular belief, a lawn full of clover and dandelions is not just a good thing—it’s a great thing! A haven for honeybees (and other native pollinators too). Don’t be so nervous about letting your lawn live a little. Wildflowers, many of which we might classify as weeds, are some of the most important food sources for native North American bees. If some of these are “weeds” you chose to get rid of (say you want to pull out that blackberry bush that’s taking over), let it bloom first for the bees and then before it goes to seed, pull it out or trim it back!

don’t use pesticides on your lawn or garden
Yes, they make your lawn look pristine and pretty, but they’re actually doing the opposite to the life in your biosphere. The chemicals and pest treatments you put on your lawn and garden can cause damange to the honeybees systems. These treatments are especially damaging if applied while the flowers are in bloom as they will get into the pollen and nectar and be taken back to the bee hive where they also get into the honey—which in turn means they can get into us. Pesticides, specifically neo-nicotinoid varieties have been one of the major culprits in Colony Collapse Disorder.
buy local raw honey
The honey you buy directly sends a message to beekeepers about how they should keep their bees. For this reason, and for your own personal health, strive to buy local, raw honey that is from hives that are not treated by chemicals. It can be hard to find out what is truly “local” and truly “raw”–and even harder yet to find out what is untreated. Here’s a few guidelines: If you find it in the grocery store and it’s imported from China, don’t buy it. There have been a number of cases recently of chemically contaminated honey coming from China. If it’s coming from the grocery store, but it doesn’t say the words “pure” or “raw” and you can’t read in the description that it’s untreated by chemicals, don’t buy it. If it’s untreated, the label will say, as this is an important selling point. We recommend a simple solution for most people. Go to your farmer’s market and shake hands with the beekeepers you meet. There are beekeepers at nearly every farmer’s market selling their honey and other products. Have a conversation with them, find out what they are doing to their hives, and how they are keeping their bees. If they are thoughtful, respectful beekeepers who keep their bees in a sustainable, natural way, then make a new friend and support them!
bees are thirsty! put a small basin of freshwater outside your home
You may not have known this one—but it’s easy and it’s true! If you have a lot of bees starting to come to your new garden of native plants, wildflowers and flowering herbs, put a little water basin out (a bird bath with some stones in it for them to crawl on does a nice trick). They will appreciate it!

Nearly 1 in 4 bee colonies died this winter, survey says

Nearly 1 in 4 U.S. honeybee colonies died this winter — a loss that’s not quite as bad as n recent years, says a new U.S. Department of Agriculture survey of beekeepers. Yet dangers remain for the pollinators.
Under siege from parasites, disease, pesticide use, nutrition problems and a mysterious die-off, 23 percent of bee colonies failed, and experts say that’s considerably better than in the previous year, which was particularly bad, and in the preceding eight years, which averaged losses of 30 percent.

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Covered in Pumpkin Pollen by Dalantech
Bee hives in winter


Intimate Portraits of Bees and other insects from the USGS bee inventory and monitoring lab.

Photography by Sam Droege via National Geographic. These pictures were taken using technology developed for the US Army, so that soldiers could identify insects and determine if they were disease-carrying. 

Droege will dry and prepare a dead bee specimen, which can be smaller than a half a grain of rice, for photographing. A macro lens is equipped with a slider to take several pictures in a row with different focuses. Then, the images are combined to one image in which all parts are in-focus, and dust and the stand are photoshopped out. The detail is enhanced but the colors are not—that color is real.

See more at Droege’s flickr.