How to Help Wild Bees Even if You Live in a Tiny Apartment
When it comes to wild bee advocacy, there are two key strategies people are talking about: building bee hotels and planting for pollinators. Both of these are great ideas that our planet definitely needs more folks engaged with. However, not everyone is in a position to build bee hotels, nor does everyone have access to their own yard where bee hotels or pollinator-attracting plants can be placed.
Nevertheless, most all of us can do something for the wild bees. In this post I identify four possible areas where you may be able to begin your advocacy, even if you live in a very tiny apartment. While some of these ideas may not work for you, at the very least, all of us can be wild bee advocates in communicating the dire nature of pollinator crises as well as possible solutions to the folks around us.
Here are my suggestions to get us started:
Replace Honey From Your Diet
This is probably the easiest step most folks can take. Unlike other animal products, while honey has a long history in human cultures and may feature in some of our favorite cultural traditions or recipes, it’s generally not considered a major nutritional staple. It may be our personal preference to still acquire honey for certain special occasions, but for our day-to-day lives, it may also be possible to choose a substitute like agave nectar instead.
Replacing honey from our diets helps to decrease the aggregate demand for honey on the market, which in turn will decrease demand for the farming of honeybees. This is an important part of wild bee advocacy because whether honeybees are farmed industrially or locally, in most parts of the world, they are an invasive species and destructive to that region’s ecosystem. Where honeybees are kept, wild bees lose territory. Over time, this results in wild bee population decline which leaves all of our pollination system both more dependent on farmed animal labor and more vulnerable to total collapse because of the reduced number of species capable of pollinating.
Read more: 7 Substitutes for Honey
Talk To Local Farmers About Pollinator Population Decline
However, producing honey is not the only job of honeybees. Many are also used for crop pollination both on industrial and backyard scales. Those of us who are farmers or purchase any of our food directly from farmers are in an excellent position to help rewild this part of our food system. Where wild bees thrive, local crops will too.
Let farmers know that as a customer this is an issue that really concerns you. Most importantly, talk to farmers about specific strategies we can take to encourage wild pollinator populations like establishing nesting boxes, hotels, and posts, setting aside areas for native plant gardens that attract them, and adopting less disruptive farm maintenance practices. It may take a while (and a whole lot of faith) for farmers who either keep honeybees or rent them for pollination to make a switch to re-attracting wild bees to their land, but I guarantee that if enough of their regular customers are concerned about it, they’ll look into it.
Is it possible to completely replace honeybee pollinators with native pollinators on a farm? Evidence suggests yes!
Read More: What’s in it for Growers?
Organize a Pollinator Sanctuary in Your Neighborhood
Even if you don’t buy food directly from farmers, you may be in a position to organize designing and planting a pollinator sanctuary somewhere in your neighborhood or community. This may be a small garden plot like in the center of a traffic circle, or a much larger project along a walking path in a local park.
Consider talking to your neighbors, or religious or activist groups you belong to about undertaking this kind of project. You may also reach out to local farmers or honeybee keepers interested in supporting wild bees too. Depending on where the sanctuary is to be constructed, it may be desirable to secure permission from municipal authorities or your HOA. In these cases, it’s usually important to have a detailed written plan and a long-term idea of how the space will be cared for (as well as who will do the caring).
Help Create Familiarity Around Wild Bee & Pollinator Advocacy
This last idea can encompass so many things. Consider buying bee hotels for friends with land. You can find DIY instruction manuals these days as well, and they might be the perfect gift for woodworkers or bird-watchers. Bring up the importance of native plants to friends with room for garden beds. Draw up some plans and be able to show them to folks when the opportunity presents itself. Blog about this issue. My primary inspiration in writing posts like this is just to create awareness of solution strategies. For better and worse, we have increasing public awareness around insect population decline. People are looking for solutions now, and wild bee advocacy is a great starting point.
These are just four ideas about how most of us can become better wild bee advocates. Have you got a different idea? I’d love to hear about it. Email me or get in touch with me to let me know all about it.
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Pat Mosley (NC LMBT #16882) is a licensed massage and bodywork therapist in the Winston-Salem area. His work is rooted in compassionate touch, permaculture, and deep ecology with the resilience of all Earth's children in mind. Connect with him via email to firstname.lastname@example.org