Unfortunately, bee communities have been declining over the last century. Air pollution, habitat destruction, and the overuse of chemical pesticides on farms, gardens, and even front lawns are affecting the recent decline in bee populations across the country.
But, you can help make a difference for local bee populations by making your yard bee-friendly! Follow the tips listed below, and you'll help ensure the long-term survival of bees in our region, the productivity of our farmland, and the security of our food system.
1. Feed your bees the good stuff. Bees need food, which in their case means pollen and nectar. To provide them with a steady and varied food source from spring through fall, you can plant an assortment of different plants that thrive in different seasons. The Washington Native Plant Society has a list of plants native to our county. They have also compiled a list of local nurseries that sell plants native to Thurston County.
2. Create a natural habitat. Commit to leaving a portion of your yard “wild,” allowing weeds and native plants to grow on their own. Just as one person’s trash is another’s treasure, in the case of weeds, many times a plant that is considered a pest to people is a great source of food or shelter for a bee.
3. Keep your bees hydrated. Bees need access to water. If your yard has a birdbath, you can place a small piece of wood in the bath that will float and provide nearby bees with a safe landing spot to drink from. Replace the water regularly so the water stays clean and fresh for bees and other critters that visit the birdbath.
5. Say, ‘no thanks’ to toxic chemicals. Avoid chemical bug and weed killers, especially the group of chemicals called neonicotinoids. Clothianidin, Dinotefuran, Imidacloprid, and Thiamethoxam are the four types of neonicotinoids that are most toxic to bees and should not be used in bee-friendly landscapes.
Thank you for doing your part to conserve our native bees and pollinators! To learn more about native bees and pollinator conservation, check out the Xerces Society, the Washington Native Plant Society and Washington State University - Extension.