Protecting honey bees and wild pollinators: What can you do?
Solutions to the loss of bees and human productivity are clearly within our reach if we engage our communities and governmental bodies. A little outrage will help. The shift to organic practices is a necessity that is protective of health and the environment, sustainable and cost effective.
1. Make your yard or a local park a "Pesticide Free Zone" and take steps to encourage pollinators
Bees are in trouble, and policymakers just aren’t acting quickly enough to help them. But backyard gardeners, sideline beekeepers and ordinary people all over the country have been stepping up. There are several steps you can take to attract these beneficial insects to your garden and protect them and their habitat. Like any other living organism, bees need food, water, and shelter in order to thrive.
For more information, see Managing Landscapes with Pollinators in Mind.
2. Become a backyard beekeeper
There is also the option of keeping your very own colony of bees in your backyard. Although not all bees live in hives, certain species, notably honeybees, are easily and safely kept in artificial hives for their shelter. This provides a safe haven for the bees while also allowing you the opportunity to harvest the fresh honey!
Aspiring beekeepers must decide which subspecies of honeybee to acquire and purchase protective equipment. If you are interested in keeping honeybees, the American Beekeeping Federation recommends that you find a local bee club in your area. Most clubs either offer courses in basic beekeeping or can direct you to such courses. These are often given at the beginning of the year, in order to prepare people to start their hives in the spring. Be sure to look for those offering organic beekeeping, so that you can be sure that your bees are not being exposed to any harmful substances.
3. Build Biodiversity
Biodiversity helps bees and other pollinators. Biodiversity of soil organisms promotes healthy plants that grow well without poisons. A diversity of plants produces a supply of nectar throughout the growing season.
4. Go Organic
Choosing organic food is not only good for your health, but it also helps protect honey bees and wild pollinators. In addition to serious health questions linked to actual residues of toxic pesticides on the food we eat, our food buying decisions support or reject hazardous agricultural practices, protection of honey bees and wild pollinators, as well as contributing to healthy working conditions and communities for farmworkers and farm families.
5. Urge EPA to act!
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed to register a
new insecticide, sulfoxaflor, which the agency has classified as “very
highly toxic” to honey bees. Despite efforts underway in Europe to
protect bee populations, and continued warnings from beekeepers, EPA is
poised to allow another chemical toxic to bees into the environment
without proper field studies evaluating long-term effects to bee
colonies and with label statements that are impractical and
unenforceable. With continuing reports of bee deaths, would sulfoxaflor
be yet another bee disaster waiting to happen? Take action and tell EPA
not to repeat past missteps and protect pollinators from sulfoxaflor by
providing a public comment to EPA (Sample text can be found in our Daily News story)
EPA’s decision to deny the
petition recognizing that honey bees face “imminent hazard” and
requesting the suspension of the pesticide clothianidin, linked to bee die-offs is
a blow to beekeepers and over one million citizen petition
signatures worldwide. This decision puts beekeepers, rural
economies, and our food system at risk. EPA believes the bees are
alright, but with hives still averaging losses over 30%, bees are
crying out for help. With one in three bites of food reliant on honey
bee pollination, it’s imperative that EPA act now! Tell EPA to suspend the use of the bee-killer clothianidin and protect pollinators.
6. Urge Your Representative to act!
Congress has the authority to
exercise oversight over federal agencies like EPA. We will
continue to pressure EPA to take action on clothianidin, but in
the meantime tell your member of Congress to support the Save American's Pollinators Act.
7. Beekeepers: Join our Listserve
This discussion based listserve made in collaboration with Center for Food Safety, Pesticide Action Network and Beyond Pesticides, is designed for information-sharing and coordination on Federal reform efforts involving neonicotinoid pesticides and their impacts on pollinators, particularly honeybees. Messages are relate to science-based advocacy aimed at Congress, EPA, USDA and other audiences regarding honey bees, other pollinators and ecosystems, and beekeeper livelihoods. Please contact our Program Associate if you have interest in joining the listserve.