Can't own bees? Rent them.
By now you've likely heard of the decline of the bees, right? Maybe you've even wondered if there is something you can do to help. If this isn't sounding familiar, here's a brief recap. Bees are responsible for 1/3 of the crops we eat. That's a lot. Without them, we would be without many of the foods we love so much...almonds, avocado, apples, blueberries, cocoa, coffee, and alfalfa. Alfalfa, you say? Well, yes! While the first part of that list might be concerning to vegetarians, alfalfa should alarm some of the meat-lovers here. Alfalfa is one of America's biggest crops, one that feeds cows and livestock. Are you following? And if you don't eat meat, well don't forget that leather, wool, cheese, and ice cream comes from these animals too. Alfalfa is the beginning of the food chain. Don't forget honey. Bees are the sole producers of this sweet antibacterial and antiseptic goodness. Honey is amazing, but we'll talk more about that another day! Without bees, life just wouldn't bee as sweet. I could go on, but I think you get the point.
The bees are likely declining due to multiple factors; agricultural practices, pesticide use, and climate change to name a few of the big ones. So now that I've hopefully gotten your attention, maybe you're wondering what YOU can do to help. Beekeeping is only one option and it's not for everyone. There are lots of other ways you can help and there are things that you can do right now. Plant a bee-friendly garden (bee balm, poppy, crocus, lavender, geranium, and many more). There are lots of options here, but think mainly about native plants that flower at different times. Create a bee fountain...a shallow dish of water with some rocks where bees can stop to drink and have a rest. Avoid pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides. And the coolest one of all...rent bees!
Here's how it works...
Sign up at Rent Mason Bees to receive either mason bees in the spring or leafcutter bees in the summer. Bees are currently being mailed rather than picked up due to COVID-19. Mount your bee house in a sunny spot and place your tube of bee cocoons inside the house. Once the bees emerge, they then go to work pollinating your garden. They are really fun to watch and very docile (ie. they don't sting). When the bees are done, they return to the house at the end of the season to lay their eggs in the nesting block. The block is then mailed back (previously dropped off) to the company and they take care of the rest (washing and caring for the cocoons over the winter). That's all there is to it! The bees that you raise in your backyard are then taken to local farmers the following year to pollinate crops that then end up in our grocery stores. The more backyard hosts, the more mason bees are available to help farmers. The more mason bees, the more food. This program is amazing...it allows you to make a significant difference in your community by being involved in your local food source and contributing to a healthier ecosystem with little very commitment.