Support for stinging insects seems to be a low priority for many tree service companies. We at Tree Pros, however, do right by honeybees, even when they aren’t pleased to see us. If we can’t work around a hive, we have established relationships with several Howard County beekeepers who can remove and care for the bees with their other colonies.
We appreciate the bees. Like us, they love trees. Not only for beauty and shelter and the leaves and bark used to build a hive, but for food. Bees plus meadow flowers is the traditional image but a large proportion of the bee diet is in fact gathered from blooming trees.
And of course, both the trees and we humans depend on the bees. Honeybees are the most efficient of the world’s pollinators; a single bee can pollinate 5,000 flowers in a day, with a 5 kilometer daily range.
There’d be far fewer new trees, and our food options would be sadly limited without the pollinators. We’re not just talking honey. Vegetables, fruits, and nuts all typically need pollinators. Foods from almonds to eggplants, garlic to lettuce, pumpkins to watermelons, and many more, depend specifically on honeybee pollination.
Today the bees need all our help. Wild and even domesticated bees are dying at much higher rates than in the past. Bees suffer from parasites and diseases new to them; contact with hazardous chemicals; climate change causing lessened seasonal orientation as well as worsened droughts and storms; and loss of habitat and food sources.
It may sound overwhelming but what we do matters. Here are a couple of simple but effective steps you can take to improve your local bees’ lives:
- Eliminate or minimize your use of pesticides, While some are labeled as toxic to bees, others (even organic options) may have sub-lethal effects undermining bee health. If you must use pesticides, apply them in the evening when bees are generally back in the hive. Similarly, you can let your lawn “go green” by cutting back on synthetic fertilizers and other chemicals, and buy organic produce when you have the choice.
- Create a “bee garden”. You can do a real garden, but don’t be intimidated; any new blooming tree or row of flowers is likely to help. Even benign neglect can prove a winner: the much-scorned dandelion is a great early season food source for bees, and clover and other common “weeds” are nourishing too. The University of Georgia has published a useful list of flowers and trees that provide good bee forage at different times of year. More choices can be found in this Rutgers University list.
- The Bee Conservancy’s “10 Ways to Save the Bees” offers additional ideas.