May 20 marks the first-ever World Bee Day, as declared by the United Nations, and there are countless reasons to celebrate our buzzy friends.
Everyone knows honey bees make honey, but their contributions hardly end there. About one-third of the U.S. diet is derived from insect-pollinated plants, and honey bees are responsible for an impressive 80 percent of that process. Although other insects can pollinate plants, honey bees are premier pollinators that pollinate a wide range of crops, including almonds, apples, avocados, cucumbers, melons, and pears, among many others.
Here are four ways we can help them thirve.
1. Plant bee-friendly flowers and flowering herbs in our garden and yard
To make one pound of honey, honey bees must visit 2 million flowers. However, bees don’t visit or benefit from every type of flower, and certain flowers flourish better in specific areas. You can enter your zip code on the Pollinator Partnership website to find the best plants for bees and other pollinators in your region.
2. Be cognizant of chemical use
Reduce or limit the use of chemicals to treat your lawn or garden while plants are in bloom. As with all chemicals, it is always best to follow the label instructions during use.
3. Donate to an organization dedicated to helping protect and promote honey bees and other pollinators
There are countless organizations working to support and protect bees. Whether your donation benefits researchers in a lab or organizations working directly with hives on the ground, you can feel great giving to a cause that ultimately helps you in return.
4. Use honey
By using honey more often, you are supporting bees and the many organizations that work to support bee health. You can find delicious recipes using clover honey or many honey varietals on the National Honey Board website.
Want more buzz? Check out a virtual reality/360-degree video from the point of view of the bee.
You may wonder why May 20 was selected as World Bee Day. This date is the birthday of Anton Janša (1734–1773), a Slovenian beekeeper and the pioneer of modern beekeeping. He was considered one of the world’s greatest authorities on the subject of bees.