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5 Ways to Help Honey Bees

Are you passionate about a healthy planet full of good food? Us too. And bees are key to keeping our food supplies plentiful! Bees pollinate more than 100 types of crops in the US, from the almonds in your granola to the berries in your favorite jam—even the grasses that feed dairy cows. But, last winter was a bleak season for bees. According to the latest survey data, US honey bee populations declined by 31%.

Share the Buzz - Breakfast

While some winter losses are to be expected (around 5–10% used to be the norm), this year’s numbers are part of a disturbing trend. Since 2006, when scientists and beekeepers began to notice mysterious bee die-offs, annual losses have hovered around 30%.

The causes are complex—a May 2013 federal report identified multiple factors, including parasites, disease, poor nutrition and pesticides—but the danger to our ecosystems is clear. The good news is, there are some simple steps you can take to help “bee the solution.”

  1. Go organic. By choosing organic food, you’re supporting farm practices that promote healthy ecosystems and avoid toxic and persistent pesticides.
  2. Mix it up. Plant bee-friendly flowers with different colors, shapes and bloom times. Visit our Floral Department or Garden Center for high-quality seeds and plants suited to your local climate. Ask for a bee-friendly list!
  3. Don’t spray it! Pesticides can impact bees’ learning and foraging skills. If you can, skip the pesticides all together.
  4. Bee a leader. Encourage your community to plant pollinator-friendly flowers at schools, parks, businesses and golf courses.
  5. Bee a smart shopper. Knowing the importance of honey bees to our food supply, some of our suppliers have made donations toward their preservation. Look for “Share the Buzz” signs throughout the store on products from brands that support this cause. Their donations go to the Xerces Society to help provide bee-friendly tools and education to our farmer partners. Insert Share the Buzz sign graphic from cumulus, to help shoppers identify the signs.

Looking for more ways to bee the solution? Check out our Share the Buzz action page.

How are you helping bees and other pollinators? Share your own tips in the comments section below.

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Redgie says …

GREAT article--good information!!! Thanks for sharing! WE love our bees!! We also researched what good WASPS are and WASPS ARE GOOD!!! They eat flies...and mosquitoes...and die out after the summer. thanks for being here, WF!!

Lyndell VanMatre says …

If we don't know why the bees are dying, how do we know how to help them? Certainly avoiding pesticides, but waht else, really?

AJ says …

Share the buzz.......I have a small yard and a small garden. This is how we share the buzz. We water the veggies and the bushes, we have roses, rhododendrons, peppermint, tomatoes, peppers, ect. All with rain water collected in two 55 gallon drums. We feed the garden with yummy compost. We allow bees in our garden and we protect them by being bee friendly by providing food, water, and shelter. Food, plants. Water, bird feeders, buckets ect. Now the fun part, shelter. This is the part most people cringe at but it is very necessary in order to help our pollinating bees. We allow the queen bee to drill into the cedar shingle siding on our house. You see, bees need water, food, and shelter. There are only a few drill holes round the house, usually near the back where the garden is. I replaced a few cedar shingles over the years and the bees always return. Here's the kicker. After evicting the queen from my cedar shingles for several years, they just keep returning, I allow the bees to reside in a porch baluster. The queen bee drills a less the dime size hole in the same baluster every year for the past three years. The worker bees reside elsewhere. The queen has a comfy home, and she helps me produce awesome fruits and veggies. So, instead of fearing our natural friends, join them and enjoy their contribution to our world. After all it's their world too! And we NEED them. And they do not sting. Only if you provoke them. Let the bees do half of your gardening for you! Grow a plentiful garden and share the buzz.

Rosa says …

You should have added that most of our bees are dying due to Monsanto.

Cassandra M. Bellantoni says …

I'm the #1 fundraiser for Share The Buzz at Glendale Whole Foods and I'm so happy to be part of this project. There's nothing more important. I learned a couple of things from the HoneyLove.org people. 1. I was quoting US honey bee losses of 31% last year, the actual number is closer to 50% according to the New York Times May '13. 2. Buying raw, and/or organic honey also helps bees because that means the beekeepers are not feeding the bees high fructose corn syrup as they do with inferior honey manufacturers. 3. Putting sources of water near flowers, with big rocks in it for the bees to climb out is also very helpful because many bees die from thirst/drowning. Just replace to avoid mosquito Thought I would add these points! So excited to be a 4-month new team member at Whole Foods. Looking forward to being more involved in these worthy projects! Cassandra M. Bellantoni.

Sarah says …

Rosa, perhaps you could elaborate???

Christopher says …

I dont use weed killers on my lawn. I let the clover grow -Bees love it.

Peter Cullen says …

Paige, have you heard that bees are fed high fructose corn syrup, which is suspected of compromising their immune systems? Does Whole Foods know what their honey supplier's bees are fed?

Brenda Flinn says …

Honeybees need water. Without water they become disoriented and nose dive into the dirt. Please address this topic especially in commercially sprinkled landscaping, which it turns out, is very dry.

Lisa H. says …

So great that we are talking about this serious issue. Educate, talk about it, protest wherever possible! March against Monsanto is a fantastic website and organization to check out. Bayer is a big culprit too. Support your local beekeepers!! Plant, plant, plant flowers that support the honeybee.