How To Save Bees

Preservation Starts in Your Own Backyard

Bee collecting pollen
Bee collecting pollen (Photo: TommL/Getty Images).

Bees may not be the most popular of insects, but it is clear that they play a vital role in the health of our environment. Bees pollinate plants; without them, we wouldn't have flowers or many of the foods we eat. Some estimates show that bees are responsible for about one out of every three bites of food on our plates at every meal. With bee populations facing a myriad of threats, how can we save the bees?

But bee populations are on the decline. Since the 1940s, honeybee colonies have decreased from 5 million to 2.5 million. Ecologists have been scrambling to understand why bee populations are dying. It can involve parasites and bacteria to pollution to habitat loss. The more they search for answers, the more time is lost while the bees continue to die.

The good news is that there are lots of things that you can do to help save the world's bees. And you don't have to be a beekeeper to do it. Make a commitment to help the planet and save the bees by trying one of these bee-friendly ideas:

  1. Plant something. Plant a tree, a flower, or a vegetable garden. Set up a window box or planter in your backyard or at your community park (with permission, of course.) Just plant something. The more plants there are, the more bees will find food and a stable habitat. Pollinating plants are best, but trees and shrubs are good too. Check out the U.S. Fish & Wildlife's guide for the best plants to grow to help protect pollinators.
  1. Cut the chemicals. It's possible that our addiction to pesticides is what is causing the world's bee populations to decline. You can reduce the amounts of chemicals that enter the environment by doing two things: Purchase organic produce whenever possible and limit your own backyard use of herbicides and insecticides -- especially when plants are in bloom and bees are foraging.
  1. Build a bee box. Different types of bees need different types of habitats to survive. Some bees nest in wood or mud, while others make their homes on the ground. Check out the USFWS's Pollinator Pages to learn more about how to build a simple bee box for the pollinators in your neighborhood.
  2. Register. If you do have good pollinator habitat in your community, register your space as part of the SHARE map, a collection of pollinator habitats from all over the world. You can also access planting guides, featured habitats and more information about the threats facing the world's bees. 
  3. Buy local honey. Support local beekeepers by purchasing honey directly from your local beekeepers.
  4. Protect bees in your community. Get involved in your local community and share what you know about the importance of protecting bees. Write an editorial to your local paper or ask to speak at your next town council meeting about ways that everyone in your area can work together to support bees.
  5. Learn more. Stay involved in bee issues by learning about the environmental stresses facing bee populations today. Pollinator.org has lots of great resources for learning about bee life cycles, pesticides, parasites, and other information to help you better understand the bees around the world and in your own backyard.