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Past Articles Library | Keep Honey Bees From Disappearing

Create a bee-friendly garden using plants bees love


Honey Bees Are Disappearing

As many of you know Colony Collapse Disorder (or CCD), also known as bee decline disease, has been going on for several years, but the problem isn't getting any better.

CCD is a phenomenon in which worker bees from a beehive or European honey bee colony abruptly disappear.

Aside from fundamental concerns about the survival of bee species, colony collapse is economically significant because many agricultural crops worldwide are pollinated by bees.

Beekeepers are experiencing the phenomena in Canada, United States, United Kingdom, Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain and initial reports have also come in from Switzerland, Germany, and Taiwan.

The cause or causes of the syndrome are not yet fully understood, and many scientists feel there are many factors causing the problem. It is causing increased concern however, because bees are essential to pollinating fruit and vegetables, as well as maintaining wildlife.

In the winter of 2008 a survey by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Agricultural Research Services and Apiary inspectors showed that 36% of America's 2.4 million hives were lost to CCD. The survey suggested an increase of 11% over the losses of 2007, and 40% over the losses of 2006

The number of bees lost in the United Kingdom increased to 15% over the last two years while the population of butterflies and other insects is also down.

Here's What You Can Do To Help

  • Help stop the decline of bees by planting your garden with all kinds of nectar-rich plants.

  • Encourage them to visit a part of your yard or garden by planting a bee border or a bee garden, just as you would plant a butterfly garden.

  • Put plants in full sun and in a sheltered place out of the wind. Bees don't like to be blown around when trying to land on flowers and also prefer flowers in sun rather than shade.

  • Use many different kinds of perennials that bees like (we'll mention a few in a minute) to ensure something is in flower every month. This will be hard for the cold winter months, but container gardens are an option.

  • One the best plants you can use is lavender. Plant it between pastel-colored perennials, such as catmint and verbena

  • Other perennials to plant that provide plenty of pollen and nectar include campanulas, hellebores, ice plant (Sedum spectabile) and sea hollies (eryngium)

  • Good shrubs to use are buddleia, hebe, Japanese quince (chaenomeles), mahonia, weigela and winter-flowering honeysuckle (Lonicera purpusii)

  • If you have acid soil in your area, plant heathers (calluna) and heaths (erica). These give great scent and some are winter flowering.

  • Lastly, protect bees from sprays or other insecticides or pesticides. If you must use a spray, try to use one that doesn't affect bees and spray pesticides in the evening after bees have returned to their hives.


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Keep Some Birds Away

When you have worked very hard to grow your grapes, fruits and vegetables, it's hard to not be bothered when birds come in and take the best of everything!

A few tricks that work well are: netting over grapes, mylar strips tied to branches of your fruit trees, even blow up owls work.

If you use a blow up owl, or scarecrow, keep in mind to move them every few days so they appear to "move." Othewise the birds get wise fast and they are no good.

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