You may have heard that bees are in danger of disappearing. Bees currently pollinate up to a third of the world’s food supply, so it is essential that individuals do whatever they can to attract, encourage and feed bees. By providing food and habitat for bees, you will help ensure not only the safety of bees, but the safety of your local food supply!
Bees are adapted to live on nectar and pollen, and feed from a variety of sources. While a single bee may benefit from a few flowers in a flowerpot, to attract bees you need to plant large areas of flowering plants; these can be herbs, fruits or vegetables, or just flowers, but you need a variety of flowers, at a variety of heights, and with a variety of colours (although it has been established that bees prefer either blue flowers, or flowers that can be seen in the ultraviolet spectrum). Because there are many different species of bees, and they all pollinate flowers, it is important to encourage not only imported honey bees, but bees that are native to your area as well. Native bees also resist incursions by Africanized (killer) bees, so by encouraging native bees, you are helping to slow the spread of killer bees, too!
Bees sometimes take up residence in houses in warm climates, especially in wall spaces. If you discover that you have a bee colony living in your house, please do not try to kill the bees. Instead call a local beekeeper. If you cannot find a beekeeper, call your county agricultural extension agent, who will find a beekeeper for you.
Be sure, if you wish to attract bees, that you use only organic methods to maintain your lawn or garden. Pesticides or insecticides kill all insects, bees included. Herbicides and weed killers will poison the pollen and nectar of plants that are exposed to it, on which these tiny and fragile creatures survive. Good flowering plants for attracting bees are not only plants with blue flowers, such as borage, but also thyme, bee balm, rosemary, and other ancient herbs that bees have co-evolved with.
Above all, leave bees alone. They are the symbol of industry, going about their business of collecting pollen and nectar, and pollinating plants for us. Never disturb a beehive or bees in flight, and keep inquisitive pets and children away from bees.