District No. 5960

Where have all the Bees Gone?

Have you noticed that there are less bees than when we were kids growing up?  I sure have!  I used to love hearing the constant buzzing of the bees around my Aunties' honeysuckle plants and how the sweet fragrance would permeate my bedroom during the spring and summer months when a cool wind blew through the room. Ahh, memories of childhood. 

When I first moved into my house; I had a gorgeous peach tree at the front of my grandson's bedroom window.  The first 3-4 years I knew I was going to have a great peach harvest because the tree was full of buzzing bees.  Now......my peach tree has gone to the peach tree heaven all due to the loss of bees.  Yup.....the last 3 years of my trees' life we had about 3 bees total.  So.............what is happening?  And..........why are bees so important?

According to beeinformed.org; Beekeepers across the United States have lost 44 percent of their honey bee colonies during the year spanning April 2015 to April 2016.  with funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the nations beekeepers (commercial and small-scale) to track the health and survival rates of their honey bee colonies on an annual basis.

“Some winter losses are normal and expected. But the fact that beekeepers are losing bees in the summer, when bees should be at their healthiest, is quite alarming.”. The researchers note that many factors are contributing to colony losses. A clear culprit is the varroa mite, a lethal parasite that can easily spread between colonies. Pesticides and malnutrition caused by changing land use patterns are also likely taking a toll, especially among commercial beekeepers.  Other losses are contributed to climate change; natural habitat changes (clearning land for homes and businesses) and lack of forage (bee friendly plants and flowers).

Why are bees important? If you look at the plate of food on your dinner table, bees have played their part either pollinating the many vegetables and fruits we eat directly, or pollinating the food for the animals that we then consume. Such as: apples, almonds, blueberries, citrus, melons, pears, plums, pumpkins and squash. Pollinators are also vital to  fiber-producing plants, such as cotton. And that’s not all bees do for us - honey and wax are two other important products that come courtesy of bees. This means that One third (1/3) of the food we eat is dependent on the pollination of bees. Bee pollination also creates honey which contributes to the economy world wide.

How can we help?  Imagine if every home gardener nationwide took steps to increase food and habitat for pollinators. Collectively, we would add tens of thousands of acres for pollinators to call home! Best of all, it's easy and rewarding to make your landscape a pollinator haven. Here's how:

Create diverse plantings: Different pollinators are active at different times of year, so include a variety of plants that bloom from early spring through late fall. To attract the full spectrum of pollinators, choose plants of various heights, including flowering trees and shrubs, and those with a range of flower shapes and sizes.

Flowers that Bees Love

  • Alyssum
  • Agastache (anise hyssop)
  • Asclepias (butterfly weed)
  • Aster
  • Echinacea (coneflower)
  • Geranium (cranesbill)
  • Monarda (bee balm)
  • Papaver (poppies)
  • Rudbeckia (black-eyed Susan)
  • Trifolium (clover)

Plant wildflowers and native species: Because wild bees and wildflowers evolved together, you can be pretty confident that native wildflowers will provide bees with an excellent source of both pollen and nectar.

Create habitat: Perfectly neat yards do not provide the raw materials wild bees need to construct their nests. Provide good nesting habitat by preserving a small brush pile, areas with dry grasses and reeds, and dead wood. A muddy area will provide essential nesting material for mason bees.

Single flowers are best: Single flowers — those with one ring of petals — provide more nectar and pollen than double flowers, in which extra petals have replaced pollen-laden anthers. Double flowers also make it more difficult for bees to reach the inner flower parts.

Choose blue, purple and yellow: Bees find blue, purple and yellow flowers most appealing. Flat or shallow blossoms, such as daisies, zinnias, asters and Queen Anne's lace, will attract the largest variety of bees. Long-tongued bees will be attracted to plants in the mint family, such as nepeta, salvia, oregano, mint and lavender. Long-tongued bumblebees are attracted to flowers with hidden nectar spurs, such as larkspur, monkshood, monarda, columbine and snapdragons.

Avoid using pesticides: Many pesticides — even organic ones — are toxic to bees and other pollinators. Use cultural techniques to control pests, such as crop rotation and row covers, as well as nontoxic controls, such as trapping and hand-picking.

If we take a stand and help the bee population; then we are doing our part in conservation and doing our part to continue providing healthy food world wide.




Submitted by Susan Jackson
Lodge Newsletter Editor
Lodge Webmaster


Courtesy of:






Back to top