How you can help:
Make your garden more pollinator-friendly
One major threat to bees has been their lack of a diverse diet, or in some areas, any food at all (corn is wind-pollinated and some farms are no different than a giant desert for bees).
Thankfully, the solution to this is easy. Plant pollinator-friendly plants and avoid using pesticides as much as possible. Filling your garden with native plants and pollinator-friendly plants will ensure a diverse and healthy diet for all the bees in the area.
There are numerous resources regarding which plants are best and two great organizations, the Pollinator Partnership and the Xerces Society have great guides for our geographic region. Greentopia also has a great native plant guide for Rochester.
Build homes for native bees (bees other than honey bees)
Whenever you read about the declining populations of our pollinators, it’s usually about honey bees. And while honey bees do the majority of the pollinating , they are actually not native to the United States, but thousands of other bee species are. In addition to preserving the biodiversity of our planet, these non-honey bees are important because they’re certain plants only they can pollinate, such as some in the tomato family.
It’s important we help out all bees, because studies have also shown pesticides that are harmful to honey bees tend to be even more harmful to these other species.
One way to help all bees is to create bee hotels for solitary species, to encourage nesting habits and provide them with a safe shelter. You can also organize your yard and garden to be friendlier to nesting habits of native bees
There are numerous resources on the internet for beekeeping. However, finding a guide on getting into the practice that is both comprehensive and affordable (i.e. free) can be difficult.
Some good overviews are provided by organizations like the Ohio State Beekeepers (thanks to Rochester Beekeepers for the link) and the eXtension Network. Also worth checking out are some of the bigger organizations, such as thePollinator Partnership or the Xerces Society, which are dedicated to pollinators, and have large sections devoted to bees. There’s much more information out there as well, especially on YouTube, so don’t stop at just these resources. And if there’s a really good one, let us know and we’ll add it.
But with all things beekeeping, it’s always good to just ask your fellow beekeepers. And fortunately, there’s many places on the internet to do just that. www.reddit.com/r/beekeeping is a very friendly and active online community,Rochester Beekeepers host monthly meetings, and of course, we’re here too.
And finally, there’s numerous books out on there that cover every aspect you could imagine (all-natural beekeeping, specialty hives, urban beekeeping, etc.). Many of which are stocked at your local library.
Donate to bee-friendly organizations
There are many groups out there doing great things for bees.
If you wanted to contribute to national movements, the Pollinator Partnership and the Xerces Society have many ongoing projects.
If you wanted to take a more local, grassroots approach, donating to SweetBeez helps make Rochester a much more bee-friendly city. Contributions would go to additional hives in the city and our operating costs which allow us to take on more apprentice beekeepers and conduct outreach with schools local organizations. Contributions would also go to our miEl Sauce project, which helps Guatemalan coffee farmers by giving them locally-made beehives.
Let the world know that bees matter
Not everyone knows bees are estimated as being a $15 billion dollar industry in the United States, or that bees pollinate 71 of the 100 crops that make up 90% of the world’s food supply. And beyond the threats they face, not everyone knows how interesting the life of a bee is.
So let your friends and neighbors know, and most importantly, let your local politicians know. President Obama has stated efforts need to be made to save the bees, so let it be known that you care about these guys too.