This year, August 18, is National Honey Bee Day. Bee Keepers across our nation join together to promote awareness regarding beekeeping and the value of the honey bee. It turns out that the North American honey bee population is really struggling. Hives of honey bees are dying off at alarming rates. There is much speculation in regards to the causes of the decline of our honey bees. Pesticides, disease, and climate change are among the suspected culprits.
Honey Bees are super-pollinators! It is estimated that one in every three bites of food that an American takes was pollinated by bees! That’s an astounding fact. So, what happens if bees continue to decline? For one, farmers will be forced to pay beekeepers a great deal more for their bees to pollinate produce and flowering plants, which in turn will surely lead to very expensive fruits, vegetables and many nuts for the American consumer. As a result, we would probably see a big decline in the purchase and consumption of fruits and vegetables.
Honey, another important byproduct of beekeeping, is not only an excellent natural alternative to other sweeteners, it also has many health benefits. Honey has natural anti-inflammatory properties, is an antioxidant and is naturally moisturizing, which is why it has been used in skincare for centuries. Honey also aids in the relief of allergies, soothes sore throats and quiets coughs, and can help to heal wounds. Recent studies even tie honey to helping with memory loss and preventing cancers. We think that these are all pretty good reasons to help out our honey-making friends!
How can you help? Margaret Lombard, CEO of the National Honey Board encourages consumers to buy honey, donate to local organizations supporting beekeepers and to plant bee-friendly gardens in your own yard! Bees are drawn to specific flowers and herbs that are native to individual regions. The Honey Board recommends checking the Xeres Society for Invertebrate Conservations website for a list of plants that work best in your area.
Our home state of Virginia falls in the Mid-Atlantic Region. This site recommends a variety of plants that will bloom throughout the growing season.
When choosing a garden spot, choose a sunny site that is protected from any excess wind. Be sure to have a water source, such as a shallow plate of water available and limit or eliminate the use of pesticides! Not only will your garden welcome honey bees but also other pollinators such as a variety of butterflies and birds! The time to plan your bee-friendly garden is now!