Do you eat fruits and vegetables on a daily basis?
If so, you’ll want to keep on reading.
As we all know, bees play a vital role in pollination which directly correlates to our food supply. 1/3 of all our food are dependent on bees. However, we’ve also heard about how bees are disappearing at a rapid pace. Just a while ago 7 bee species from Hawaii were added to the US endangered list.
Have you ever wondered why?
Have you ever thought about what you could do to help the bees? Or what is safe and dangerous for the bees?
Well, I’ve got all of that information coming right up:
What is Harming the Bees?
In general, pesticides are what is harming the bee population. As we’ve changed our way of raising food, unfortunately, some of our methods have harmed them.
But is everything we put on our plants bad for them? In short, no it’s not.
However, here are the chemicals that are harmful to our bee friends:
This is used to keep unwanted pests off of your plants. It is actually said to kill on contact. The issue is any insect that lands on the plant is automatically toast. Which sadly includes bees.
Sevin often comes in dust form. It is great for keeping unwanted insects off of your plants. Before we got into bees I used it regularly on my garden to help stop a horrible infestation of June Bugs.
Thankfully, we discovered guineas and now have a healthier option for defeating June Bugs while not killing our bees.
Diazinon is a multi-purpose chemical. It is used indoors to kill cockroaches, ants, water bugs, and many other indoor pests.
However, it is also used to keep bugs off of plants, fruit trees, and kill unwanted pests within the soil. Bees happen to fall in line with insects that are harmed by this chemical.
4. Bayer Systemic
Bayer Systemic is used to control many types of insects that will ravage your garden, orchards, and other ornamental plants. But it has a negative impact on the bees as well.
However, I will give Bayer a lot of credit. They are taking steps towards helping the bee population. They actually have a whole section of bee health on their website.
You may not be as familiar with Ambush. It is one of the main insecticides used on cotton plants to control any number of issues that could impact the harvest.
However, though it has been great at helping farmers protect their harvests, it is now impacting the bee population because it harms them as much as it does any other insect that might be near the plant.
This is another insecticide that is used but brings harm to the bees. However, this particular one is mainly used to control bed bug strains.
But it can be used to control any other number of insects that we often deem as pests. Which, like the rest, helps with controlling certain things that damage our crops but also hurts the other that helps our crops thrive.
Insecticides, in general, are just not good for the bees. But there are certain kinds (like Round Up) that if you can use them at dawn or dusk (before the bees come out) then they won’t harm them.
So I’m not suggesting that you quit insecticides altogether unless you are trying to live an organic lifestyle. However, I am suggesting that you do your research before use. If there is an insecticide that is an absolute no-go for the bees, then don’t use it. Yet, if it can be used when they aren’t out to be impacted by it, then just be smart when using it.
8. Diesel Fuel
We use a lot of diesel fuel in this age. It is what keeps big machinery running and big trucks too. However, according to this study, the pollution that comes from diesel fuel takes away the bees’ ability to pick up on scents.
Therefore, it confuses them and they aren’t able to locate food sources. Pollution, in general, isn’t a good thing, but diesel fuel is being found as especially harmful to them. That is just something to keep in mind.
What Isn’t Harming the Bees
When people find out we raise bees you would be surprised at all of the questions we get.
Is it bad to raise bees in your backyard since they are wild creatures? Does it hurt them to harvest their honey? How do you keep your homestead going if you can’t use any insecticides?
Well, I’m going to answer those questions now:
1. Backyard Beekeeping isn’t Harmful
Backyard beekeeping is actually helping the bees make a comeback. The reason is because they have people that are invested in keeping them alive.
Now, that doesn’t mean that we know a ton about bees because scientists still haven’t figured much out about them in general.
But it does mean that if their hive is under attack, the beekeeper can see it and do something about it. Where as in the wild the hive would be limited to what the bees could do.
So keeping bees in your backyard doesn’t harm them at all. Instead it helps produce strong, healthy hives.
Yes, bees are wild creatures. No, you will not domesticate bees to the point that they won’t sting or that you’ll ever be able to pet them.
However, you know what you are getting into when keeping bees, and even with the risk of being stung it is still something that our family really enjoys.
2. Harvesting Honey from the Bees isn’t Harmful
I think people assume that anything we harvest from nature has to be painful. When in reality, that isn’t the case. You can harvest milk from a goat or cow and not bring harm to them. If anything they think it’s treat time and look forward to it. (Okay, please tell me that I’m not the only one that has spoiled goats?)
Nor is harvesting eggs a painful experience for the chicken. They are going to give birth every day anyway, for the most part. If the egg wasn’t fertilized it won’t hatch anyway. So my going in the coop and collecting an egg from a box isn’t bringing discomfort to the chicken.
Well, neither is harvesting honey. You simply go in and remove honey from a frame that has comb built within it. The key is to make sure that you don’t take too much. Bees will collect and collect if the resources are there. They are the original preppers.
So that means that they have plenty to share because honey won’t go bad. In short, it isn’t harming the bees as long as you leave them with a good amount to make it through winter. Yet, if they are backyard bees, they’ll have honey plus fondant to up their chances of surviving the cold season.
3. You Can Homestead with Bees
We are not a totally organic homestead. We are trying to get there by finding natural options to the items that we buy at the store.
But there are still some instances that we haven’t found a natural solution yet that is feasible with where we are at. For instance, we discovered Round Up is okay to use with our bees if we use it when they are not out of the hive. Our hives did just fine with it last year.
However, we had to figure this out because we had weeds that would not go away. No matter how many times we pulled them, they’d come back and take over. I was spending 3 hours a day pulling weeds over the summer!
Well, when you are in the busy seasons of life you don’t always have time to spend those 3 hours pulling weeds. (And between us, even if I did, I wouldn’t want to.)
So we gave in and used Round Up. You just have to be careful what you use if you haven’t made your way to being a full-blown organic homestead. Other safe options for the plants and bees around the homestead are fungicides. As mentioned, they won’t harm the bees but they’ll take care of unwanted fungus.
What Can You Do to Help the Bees?
1. Make Them a Part of Your Homestead
As I mentioned earlier, if you want to help the bee population increase then begin to raise bees yourself. I know some are rather afraid of bees, but you really don’t have to be.
Once you get used to them and get past the initial fear, you might surprise yourself. My husband was petrified of bees when we got them. Now, he is in love with them.
As for me, I actually find working with them rather relaxing. I think it is the constant buzzing noise. I’ve learned a lot just from watching them, and I love the benefits they bring to the table as well.
2. Plant a Garden for Them
If you don’t think you are ready to take on the task of beekeeping quite yet, don’t fret. There is still plenty you can do to help bees. To start, watch what chemicals you use around your property. Bees travel within a 5-mile radius to gather food.
So if you use a chemical and one of your neighbors keeps bees, then they are probably eating at your house.
Also, since you probably have bees foraging at your home why not plant them a garden? There are certain flowers that bees love. Some ideas are:
- And many more!
How Can I Raise Bees?
Let’s say you want to hop on the beekeeping train. I say, “Welcome aboard! We are glad to have you!” But how do you get started? It’s easy. Follow these three easy steps:
1. Make Preparations
You’ll need to do your research. First, go see your doctor. You’ll want to make sure you aren’t allergic. If you are then you’ll need to decide if you want to keep an Epi-pen on hand or if you’ll pass on the idea.
You might think that sounds crazy, but you’d be surprised how many people love bees so much that they carry an Epi-pen in their bee suit.
But I digress, second, you’ll need to figure out where you could keep bees on your property. Be sure to do lots of research.
Finally, you’ll need to figure out where to buy bees and do tons of research. The more educated you are about the topic going into it the more success you are likely to have with keeping bees.
2. Buy Your Bees (Or Catch Them)
You’ll want to go through with the buying process. Hopefully you’ve done your research and have shopped around for the best deals. Often you’ll find beekeepers selling bees through sites on the internet such as Craig’s List.
Also, if you live near a bee supply store, often times they sell bees there as well. If all else fails (or you don’t want to invest a lot of money into keeping bees) you could wait until swarm season and try to catch one for free.
So if that interests you, here is a post I wrote to help you with that.
3. Watch Over Them
Finally, you’ll just need to watch over them to begin. You’ll need to do lots of research on things like extracting honey, how to handle your hives when they swarm, and many other topics.
But if you get your bees and keep studying you’ll be surprised how fast you catch on. As mentioned, bees are their own creatures. They can be frustrating at times, but we really love ours.
So who knows? You could become a beekeeper and love yours too!
Well, I hope you all have found this information interesting. Hopefully it will encourage you to read labels before spraying certain pesticides on your property and also to plant flowers for your bee friends.
But now it’s your turn. I want to hear your thoughts. Do you know of any other chemicals that are harmful to bees? Are you a beekeeper? If so, do you have any advice for people that might want to get into beekeeping?