Buzzing Blooms: Celebrate World Bee Day May 20

In 2018, the UN General Assembly established May 20 as World Bee Day.

Pollination is a fundamental process for the survival of our ecosystems," states the website. "Nearly 90 percent of the world’s wild flowering plant species depend entirely, or at least in part, on animal pollination, along with more than 75 percent of the world’s food crops.”

It is no wonder that the UN decided to create a day just for bees! Bees play such a critical role in our agriculture; it is imperative that we all take steps to protect our precious pollinators.

Sounding the alarm

It is important that we keep talking about bees and monitoring their populations.

Since 2006, beekeepers have been sounding the alarm about Colony Collapse Disorder or CCD. I watched a documentary on the subject and the makers of the film were leaning heavily in the direction of blaming specific pesticides, no longer in use in Europe because of CCD.

Years of study have not led to claims of any one cause. The conclusion of most studies blames a combination of many factors for the problem. This combination might include pesticides, use of antibiotics, fungi, poor quality queens, malnutrition, mites, long-distance transportation and even immunodeficiencies.

Just as we humans suffer under many environmental stressors, it is easy to understand that bees also face many of the same stressors, whether in a human-managed hive or in a hive in nature.

How we can help

There are many ways we can help our bee friends.

We don’t need to become beekeepers or even own a garden to support our buzzing buddies. When we talk about supporting plants, we often go straight to the health of the soil and a healthy environment for growth. Bees need the same thing plants need; a decrease in toxic exposure and an increase in healthy nutrition. 

Starting small

Even if we don’t own property, we can support bees.

By reducing the amount of toxic chemicals we purchase - they are in our cleaning supplies, cosmetics, even in prescription drugs - we make the environment safer for everyone, including bees.

If we do own or rent property, but are not gardening yet, we can help by not applying fertilizers and weed killers to our lawns and hardscapes. In fact, bees love dandelions and clover, which many products kill. Diverse plants in our lawns make for healthier lawns where beneficial insects can thrive.

And we don’t have to be beekeepers to keep bees! I see all kinds of little bee houses for sale online. These little wooden structures are fun for kids to purchase and place in just the right corner of your yard to attract bees.

Gardeners as guardians

As gardeners, we have plenty of jobs to juggle: mixer of the soil, broadcaster of the seed, weeder of the weeds and so on.

It’s only natural that we lift one more banner: “Guardian of the Bees.”

We can’t even grow a garden without bees! They are our winged partners, as indispensable as water or sun. Therefore, let’s list some plants we can gift to bees to create striving and thriving hives. These are all rather common and familiar. That should make them easy to find. These are also perennials. Planting once and done is the way to go!

  • Aster
  • Bee Balm
  • Clematis
  • Daisy
  • Echinacea
  • Foxglove
  • Goldenrod
  • Hosta
  • Iris
  • Jasmine

What more can we do?

Short of becoming a beekeeper, there are a few more tricks to support our bees.

We can also plant a flowering tree. A tree can provide thousands of flowers for hungry bees. We can leave rotting logs in a corner of the garden for bees to live in.

When I bought my house, there was already stacked firewood here. Unfortunately, I didn’t know that a bee colony had decided to reside under the wood. Three people got stung before we figured it out. 

The last great trick for gardeners to support bees is planting native plants. I often hear “plant native plants!” I just never knew why it’s important. It turns out that there are thousands of species of bees. Most bees favor a variety of plants. But some bees like just one kind of plant. Let’s give our bees the best chance for survival.

Donning the suit

Perhaps you know a beekeeper and are inspired to join the ranks.

When a gardener wants to expand, sometimes she buys some chickens and others become bee keepers. Either choice is a natural fit for the gardener.

Both choices support the prosperity of our crops. I don’t imagine we could have too many beekeepers, just as we could not have too many gardeners. There are tons of resources online to help one get started. You can take a class or join a beekeeping club. Just learn as much as you can before diving in because, like most rewarding endeavors, it is a big commitment.

A sweet ending

Maybe the most important lesson we can learn is from a little bear who lives in Hundred Acre Wood.

Winnie- the-Pooh knows how to celebrate bees like no other and teaches us that we can support bees by indulging in that sweet, sweet honey. Consumer beware in the super market aisles: much of what looks like a bottle of honey is nothing more than sugar water.

I was in shock when I first discovered this truth. Don’t fall for it. Support the greatest guardians of the bees by buying local honey at your farmers’ market.

When we support our local beekeepers, we support our very own gardens. 



  • Helen

    Support several local family’s making their own honey on the South Shore. At a recent visit to a Farmers Mkt the vendor explained the various types of honey that is made and sold by him. It was fascinating.

  • Pete Zigmond

    I have 50 acres and to be come a bee keeper

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