Samish Neighborhood Association

Neighbors in Bellingham, Washington, working together


Bee Conservation: It Matters (contributed by Christy Erickson)

Bees, both native and naturalized, pollinate many of the crops we rely on at each meal. And with managed bee populations often succumbing to a condition known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CDC), we must turn to wild bees to supplement insect allogamy efforts. Here, we take a look at some of the most common questions regarding bees and bee preservation.

Why are bees important?

Wild bees help pollinate crops including tomatoes, peppers, strawberries, and melons – many of the fruits and vegetables that are so popular at local farmer’s markets in the summer and fall. In many areas, wild bees are the primary pollinator, making their survival extremely important.

Don’t bees sting?

Yes, but not as often as you’d think and their stings aren’t as dangerous as pop culture would have us believe. Most native wild bees are solitary nesters and only attack when overtly provoked. Honeybees, which form colonies, will defend their territory if threatened, but serious bee attacks are rare. Pest control company Terminix reports that the average adult can recover from more than 1,000 bee stings before needing medical intervention; children – barring an allergy – can tolerate up to 500 stings without suffering long-term effects.

How can I help conserve natural bee habitats within my community?

If you own land, plant plenty of flowering herbs and ornamental flowers. Bees are drawn to vivid colors, and according to Dr. Klaus Schmitt, have highly developed visual acuity and see flowers very different than humans. Plant seasonal varieties that will overlap, providing the bees with access to nectar and pollen for as long as possible.

Can I attract bees without planting a full flower garden?

Bees like to move around, so even a few planters filled with fragrant blooms will encourage a visit from these beneficial flyers. Creating a container garden is also a wonderful activity for children, as it requires less upkeep than a traditional landscaping plan. Children benefit from digging in the dirt in a variety of ways, including learning how to help bees and other pollinators.

What do bees need to nest?

Most bees will do just fine with a well-drained soil mound or old log. However, a “bee box” is an inexpensive alternative to leaving bare spots or rotting wood in your yard. A bee box is simply a stack of untreated lumber adorned with various-sized holes. Make sure to put a water source nearby such as bowl of water, and place rocks or pebbles above water so the bees have a place to land and drink.

Are pesticides harmful to bees?

Bees come into contact with pesticides while foraging and exposure can be fatal. If you must control a harmful creature infection, use chemicals that target the specific pest and spray at night, when bees are less active. Treat flowers while they are budding; never spray pesticides on an open bloom.

Image credit: Pixabay



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