Honey bee on flower pollen

What is a Bee Sanctuary?

One of the bees’ biggest threats is a lack of safe habitat. Without anywhere to build homes or find food sources, bees have become increasingly at risk. This becomes even more alarming when you learn just how important bees are. 

At Green Decades, we’re all about saving the planet from global warming. To keep the world healthy, we need to protect our bees. For that reason, we recommend bee sanctuaries. In this article, we’ll let you know a little bit more about what a bee sanctuary is and how it can help save the planet. 

What are the different types of bees?

Unlike wasps and hornets, bees are not as aggressive or sting-happy. Instead, they’re often focused on pollinating flowers. Bees are good for your garden and the environment as a whole, but people often can’t tell the different types of bees apart. 

Bees are often put into two categories: social and solitary. Let’s look at the social bees first, who live in colonies. 

Bumble Bees

This docile bee is known for its immense size when compared to other species. While their stings are not too powerful, their bodies and loud buzzing are often enough to keep predators away. They’re so large, in fact, that there was a rumor surrounding them for a while that their wings shouldn’t even be able to lift them. 

Bumble bees are always seeking out flowers in search of nectar and pollen. They are the biggest pollinators after honey bees, making them vital to the overall ecosystem of the planet. They’re also the biggest size-wise, looking like big fluffy yellow cotton balls. 

Honey Bees

Honey bees live in giant colonies that can have over 80,000 members. Inside the hives is where they create honey, which they do by collecting nectar. Their obsession with nectar makes them the number one pollinator on the entire planet, pollinating more than 130 crops throughout the United States alone. 

Honey bee colonies work in a caste system. Each bee has their own role that keeps the colony thriving. This includes the queen, workers, and drones. Drones are the ones out looking for nectar and pollen. And, to many people’s surprise, they’re pretty gentle, too. They only attack if the hive is threatened. 

Africanized Honey Bees

These aggressive bees can be found in California, Nevada, and other warmer parts of the country. Known as “killer bees,” these insects originated in Africa but were cross-bred with regular honey bees and have since started working their way north. 

Africanized honey bees are known for their bad tempers. They’ll attack in masse and have even been known to sting people to death if they come too close to their nest. Their aggressive nature is sometimes the only thing that differentiates them from honey bees. 

Carpenter Bees

carpenter bee on pink flower in spring

Let’s take a closer look at some solitary bees, starting with carpenter bees. These blueish black bees look sort of like a very fat and very hair bumble bee. While they look similar, their activity is much different.

Carpenter bees love to make nests inside of wood, usually wooden support beams, decks, fences, and telephone poles. While they can cause quite a lot of damage with their burrowing activities, carpenter bees are not known to sting too often. 

Sweat Bees

Sweat bees, or alkali bees, are very small bees that can often be found hovering around your head on a warm day, especially if you’ve been sweating (hence the name). They are attracted to sweat, but you shouldn’t be too worried if you see them hovering around. They are so small and non-aggressive that getting stung isn’t too common. 

Mining Bees

There are about 1,200 species of mining bees. They create complex tunnels in the ground, where they place their nests. They like to find loose soil, often building their nests in gardens. They can cause a bit of damage to your lawn, but — like digger bees — the risk of getting stung is very, very low. 

Why are bees needed?

There are over 20,000 known bee species in the world, according to the USGS. While we’ve only gone over a few bees above, they are all important to the environment. Native bees are estimated to pollinate 80% of flowering plants around the world. They also pollinate about 75% of fruits, nuts, and vegetables in the United States. 

In order to feed the world’s growing population, bees must survive. A third of the entire planet’s food depends on their pollination. 

Bees are also vital for the preservation of nature’s biodiversity, also because of pollination. This protects the ecosystem and its animals and plants, contributing to genetic and biotic diversity. Because of this, bees are used as an indicator of the environment’s health. If there aren’t enough bees, environmentalists recognize immediately that action is needed. 

Where do bees live?

honey bees making honeycomb beekeeper

Honey bees spread to northern Europe, eastern India, China, and the Americas from Africa and the Middle East. Bees were first brought to America in 1622. Because honey bees have since been domesticated due to humans’ desire for honey, they can be found all over the world in a variety of habitats.  

It’s believed that honey bees originated in tropical climates and heavily forested areas. Even so, bees can thrive in a variety of environments, adapting to domesticated life or living in gardens, woodlands, orchards, and other areas near flowering plants. Honey bees have even adapted to cold climates, using their metabolic heat to provide warmth to the entire colony. 

 Within these areas, honey bees build nests to protect themselves from predators. 

Why are bees endangered?

Up until 2017, there were seven bee species on the endangered list, all located in Hawaii. Recently, the Rusy Patched Bumble Bee has become the first endangered bee in the lower 48 states. So why are there more and more bees on this list? 

To put it bluntly, they stayed around humans. While other bee species migrated away from humans over the years, this bumble bee species stuck around, becoming impacted by land use, pesticides, and burning fossil fuels. 

Science Nordic recently published a report that showed that wild wild bees were also not able to compete with the domesticated honey bee, leaving wild species with fewer resources and mass deaths. For this reason, large honey bee colonies shouldn’t be placed in areas with limited plants. 

But soon even the bees that ran away from humans will be impacted by the rapidly changing climate. Our species has significantly sped up global warming, something that a lot of bees are not able to thrive in due to warming temperatures. 

Want to reverse climate change? Join Green Decades’ movement today. 

These rapid changes, both technological and environmental, have led to a 99.9% loss in pollinator-supporting wildlife over the last 150 years. In the United Kingdom, 97% of the native wildflower habitats have been lost since the 1950s. Mowing down wildlife for farmland and urban purposes has also left bees even more vulnerable. 

What can you do to help save the bees?

While the disappearance of bees is most definitely a serious and heavy issue that can’t be fixed overnight, it’s actually quite easy to get involved and start making an impact today. We’re going to go over a few ways to protect existing bees and maybe inspire some new colonies to grow. 

Make Your Garden into a Bee Sanctuary

One of the biggest threats to bees right now is a lack of a safe habitat for them to build homes and find nutritious food sources. One solution is to turn your own garden into a bee sanctuary, filling an area of your lawn with bee-friendly plants and ensuring the environment is safe. 

Avoid using chemicals like pesticides

While people have been attempting to breed honeybees that are immune to pesticides, the fact is that most bees — especially wild ones — are greatly harmed by the use of pesticides. Pesticides are so dangerous to bees that some have been banned or are strictly regulated due to their toxicity to pollinators.

Wild bee populations are detrimental to the ecosystem’s overall health. Whether your bee sanctuary is your entire lawn or just a flower bed or even a window box, stay away from pesticides and other harmful chemicals, including synthetic pesticides, fertilizers, herbicides, and neonicotinoids.

Instead, use organic products and natural solutions, like compost, to aid soil health. Add beneficial insects that keep pests away, including ladybugs and praying mantises. This is a good alternative that effectively keeps plants safe and ensures bees are healthy and welcome. 

Plant flowers that bees can pollinate

The types of plants you include in your bee sanctuary are very important. There are certain plants that attract bees more than others. Make sure some of them are native to your region since some native bees can only feed on pollen from specific local plants. 

Here’s just a few plants to consider:

Sunflowers

These giant flowers attract insects and birds because of their seeds.

Daisies

white and yellow daisies pollinator

The classic white and yellow daisies, known as Shasta daisies, are usually the most appealing to pollinators. 

Butterfly Bush

If you have the room, these fragrant flowers are perfect for attracting butterflies and hummingbirds. 

Coneflower

Their sweet nectar attracts butterflies and the blossoms entice bees. 

Snapdragon

Bumble bees can’t resist this flower, which actually changed its scent, appearance, and physical form to make that happen. 

  • Releases an irresistible scent during bumblebee’s most active hours
  • Bees can’t see red, so they are yellow, blue, and violet
  • Bell shaped petals are perfect for bees to easily get in and out of

Dandelions

This plant, which gardeners usually get rid of, stay in bloom all year long, attracting bees throughout each season. 

Milkweed

Known for attracting butterflies, milkweed is also a favorite for hummingbirds and bees. 

Create nesting places

There are two different structures to put in your bee sanctuary that will actively attract and support wild bees. The first is a safe place for bees to stay hydrated in the form of a watering hole. 

Buy a shallow bowl, clay if possible, then add marbles throughout its surface. This allows bees and other insects to perch inside the bowl without drowning. Fill the bowl halfway, leaving the marbles exposed. Place it by the flowers that bees can’t resist. 

The second structure is a bee hotel, giving bees a place to stay if they have wandered too far from their hive. Find about 10 to 20 hollow tubes with a dime-sized diameter, then tie them together so they can’t move. Hang them up on a nearby tree with rope, making sure it’s not easily moved by the wind. 

Volunteer at nonprofits

beekeeper caring for honeybees in white suit

Another great way to help your local bee population is to support local beekeepers. This can be as simple as buying their honey and beeswax products (soaps, lotions, candles), or volunteer some time or money towards their efforts. 

Many communities will also have garden clubs and other organizations and groups that support pollinators in the area. Reach out to them and ask if they have any fundraisers or want help on any upcoming projects. Some towns set up bee sanctuaries throughout the community, usually offering them to citizens for free, and may need help spreading the word or implementing them. 

Related: 35+ Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

Conclusion

Despite being one of the most important animals on the planet, bee populations continue to dwindle. There are different ways you can help, including planting the right flowers and giving them a place to rest.
To protect bees in the long term, we must fight to end global warming. At Green Decades, our goal is to end the suffering caused by climate change. That includes saving the bees. Join the movement to reverse the change by offsetting a portion of your carbon emissions

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