By now, you’ve probably heard about the decline of the honeybee—those little buzzing pollinators that are responsible for producing billions of dollars’ worth of our nation’s fruits and vegetables. Colony collapse disorder, as the phenomenon is known, happens when worker bees abruptly vanish from their colonies. In North America, the disappearance began in 2006, and commercial beekeepers have lost an average of one-third of their bees every year since.
The reason for the bees’ disappearance is unknown, although many theories abound. Possible causes include parasites, infection, and exposure to insecticide. Researchers also assume that the loss of uncultivated fields—that once were home to a variety of pollen-rich plants—have left bees undernourished and less resilient to disease.
In response to the drastic dwindling of this species that is relied upon so heavily for food production, the federal government is putting $3 million into a program that will support the regrowth of honeybee colonies. Farmers are being encouraged to plant bee-friendly shrubs that are easy to grow and won’t interfere with commercial crops.
If you’d like to grow bee-friendly plants in your own backyard, follow these easy guidelines:
- Don’t use pesticides.
- Choose flowers that are a variety of shapes in shades of white, blue, purple, and yellow.
- Native plants are most appealing to the bees that are native to your area. So use local plants in your garden.
- Plant flowers in clusters so they’ll be easy for bees to find, and put them in sunny spots where bees are most likely to be buzzing.