In December, Todd Schofield wrote that he and his young daughters often found dead or dying bees in their yard. And, concerned about the troubles facing bees, he asked what they could do to help bees.

It’s always sad to find a dead bee, but the sad fact of bee life is that a worker bee's allotted time is short. A summer-born worker bee lives only 28 to 35 days. They simply wear out; their tattered wings can no longer carry them and they often die in the field, on the job.  So, Todd and daughters, don’t be too upset about the bee bodies you find.

But do help bees! European honeybees are in some serious trouble, as are native bumble bees. Here are some things you can do (and not do) in the new year to help bees of all kinds.

1. Don’t use any pesticides. This is probably the single most important thing you can do. Many researchers (and beekeepers) suspect that the low level of  pesticides found in bees is weakening them and making them more susceptible to other diseases. (Sharon Cohoon wrote about a common pesticide in lawn fertilizer, Imidacloprid, a nerve toxin which is taken up by the plant and goes into all parts of it, including pollen, in our Fresh Dirt Blog.)

2. Plant a variety of pollen bearing plants. Don’t go for flashy, sterile blossoms. Let clover grow in the lawn, and dandelions too. Relax. An added benefit of bee-attracting plants is that they’ll also attract beneficial insects and birds to your garden.

There’s a good bee-plant list at the Melissa Garden website.  And take our quiz How Green is Your Garden, to find out how softly on the planet your garden grows.

3. Buy honey! Buy it from local beekeepers if you can. We want to keep these folks in business; their bees pollinate our gardens, forests, and meadows. And, on the plus side for you, you’ll be tasting the terroir of the land as found through the honeybee.

For more on how you can help bees, see Elizabeth Jardina's Sunset story, Give Bees a Chance, as well as the Haagen Dazs Help the Honey Bees website.

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