The world's bees are disappearing, and no one knows why.
Sound like the premise of an apocalyptic Hollywood thriller? It is ― M. Night Shyamalan's The Happening features disappearing bees as the precursor to a worldwide environmental disaster. The real story isn't quite that dire, but the facts are indisputable: Since 2006, the honeybee hives that pollinate our almond orchards, squash blossoms, and orange groves have been mysteriously failing. Numerous studies are under way, and honey-dependent corporations like Burt's Bees and Häagen-Dazs are raising money for research. But you can help in your own garden too. Here's hoping that all bees get a happy Hollywood ending.
TIPS FOR A BEE-FRIENDLY GARDEN
1. Don't use pesticides.
2. Plant pollen-rich flowers ― the more kinds, the better. Blue, white, and yellow are favorite colors.
Visit "Urban bee gardens" for ideas.
3.Don't mulch all your bare dirt ― that's where solitary bees build their nests.
4. Consider a bee box. Some species need nesting holes to lay their eggs in. Try the Countryside Culture Mason Bee Block House,$22; Northwest Nature Shop; 877/482-3241.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Native bees can be good pollinators too.
The West has thousands of species of bees, from fat yellow-and-black bumblebees to slim ant look-alikes. Encourage them ― and gather information about them ― this summer by participating in the Great Sunflower Project. Get free seeds, and help map pollination all over the country. Go to Great sunflower.org for more details.