How to be kind to bees

July 17, 2014, 1 p.m.
sweat bee close up

Photo: Erin Fulton Redding/MNN Flickr Group

Be friendly to bees

There are over 4,000 different species of bee in North America, and over 20, 000 different species of bee in the world. Anywhere there are flowering plants, there are species of bees present. While the European honey bee gets most of the credit for pollinating the crops in the U.S., native bees are playing an important and underestimated role. From bumblebees to solitary bees, these industrious insects keep a good deal of our flowering plants alive, including native crops like blueberries and cranberries. You may have heard that bees are disappearing at an alarming rate. Well, it’s true. Facing a multitude of threats including habitat loss, loss of food sources, pollution, a mind-glowingly large mix of pesticides, new diseases and parasites, and the effects of climate change, even the vast number of bee species on the continent won’t insulate bees enough from disappearing altogether without some changes on the part of humans. If you want to help (and keep our grocery stores full of food), then consider adding more bee-friendly plants to your garden, eliminating pesticides from your yard-care routine, buying only organic items at the store, and supporting your local beekeepers by buying local honey. All of these actions on your part make a huge difference in protecting these pollinators that keep us fed, and keep our world vibrant and beautiful.

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Jaymi Heimbuch is a writer and photographer at Mother Nature Network. Follow her on Google+, and Facebook.