Honeybee numbers have been in decline since the late 1980s.
It was extremely difficult to find the cause of these declines, known as “colony collapse disorder,” because there was not only one factor. Among the changes that have caused honeybee losses are urban expansion, increased use of highly potent pesticides and loss of habitat.
The best early spring practice people can put into place in their yard is to let the dandelions grow. Dandelions are an extremely important early season nectar source.
If people allow these dandelions to grow until May, when many of the native wildflowers begin to bloom, it would give the honeybees a much needed food source. In addition, dandelion blooms begin to naturally die back at this same time. By waiting and not attacking the dandelions in lawns, people will us less herbicides. That's better for all of us.
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If people wish to help honeybees further, they can stop using pesticide sprays in their yards altogether. There are many natural ways to repel mosquitoes and other pests.
Adding easy-to-grow plants like marigolds or catnip near sitting areas will discourage mosquitoes from gathering there. Always be sure to turn over anything that can collect water during a rain.
These are breeding grounds for mosquitoes, where they will multiply quickly. A natural way to trick yellow jackets into moving away only takes a couple of small brown paper bags.
Loosely wad up one bag and place it inside the second bag. Now hang the second “puffed up” bag out of the weather where you have seen yellow jackets building. The yellow jackets will think the bag is a hornets nest and leave in fear.
Native or wild flowers are the best nectar sources for honeybees. Choosing flowers with long blooming seasons will benefit honeybees and add beauty to your garden.
Iron weed is a Midwestern native wildflower that is easy to grow. It can withstand drought conditions and will add large bunches of purple blooms to your garden from May to September.
The honeybee has traveled a long road to garner the conservation attention it deserves. But it can finally say it has national scrutiny in the United States. Starting with a presidential memorandum in 2014, President Barack Obama insisted that a multiagency Pollinator Health Task Force be formed to find new ways to save the honeybee from extinction. On May 19, 2015, the task force released the National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and other Pollinators.
It has three overarching goals:
▪ Reduce honeybee colony losses during the winter to no more than 10 percent within 10 years.
▪ Increase the Eastern population of monarchs to 225 million within 15 acres at the wintering site in Mexico.
▪ Restore or enhance 7 million acres of land, over the next five years. Other pollinators protected by this strategy include butterflies and native bees such as as mason and orchard bees, which do not colonize like honeybees.