Ten ways to help honeybees

1. Set aside certain areas in parks and in public and private undeveloped areas where aging or dying trees are allowed to stand so they can provide shelter for wild honeybee colonies. Plant brambles in undeveloped areas and along roads as hedges or part of hedgerows.

2. Plant groves of flowering trees and shrubs or patches of flowering groundcovers in yards and public spaces such as parks, school grounds, golf courses, roadsides, and median strips.

3. Ask municipal governments to enact zoning requiring developers to allot a certain percentage of their land to wild growth.

4. Deliberately plant flowers in masses, and select some non-hybridized and native plants for your yard, garden, and containers.

5. Choose flowering plants such as narcissus, rock cress, forget-me-not, dahlia, coreopsis, cosmos, black-eyed Susan, and sunflower that provide both nectar and pollen for foraging bees.

6. Avoid routine preventive spraying of general pesticides in yards and public areas. Instead, use pesticides only for specific problems on individual affected plants. Spray late in the day when honeybees have returned to the hive.

7. Choose pesticides wisely. Honeybees are as much at risk from "natural" products, such as pyrethrum, as they are from malathion. Wherever possible control pest infestations with soaps, oils, bacilli (such as Bt), handpicking, or pruning.

8. Plant flowering herbs and vegetables - mints, basil, squash, melons, cucumbers. Let some of your other vegetable crops "go to seed." Allowed to flower, broccoli and its relatives - chicory, onions/chives, endive, asparagus and others - yield nectar or pollen.

9. Learn to distinguish honeybees from hornets, yellow jackets, wasps, and other stinging creatures. Teach children and encourage schools to include information about honeybees so that they will be respected and protected in your yard and community.

10. Become a beekeeper. To learn about this wonderful hobby read "ABC and XYZ of Bee Culture" (40th edition), Roger A. Morse, ed. A.I. Root Company, Medina, OH 1970.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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