By Christy Erickson
An understated view of bees’ role in our lives might say that they play a pretty big part in pollinating many of the plants and thus, food, that we know and love. A more accurate representation of their impact might say that they are one of – if not the most – vital creatures on the planet. Bee populations are in danger around the world (as you may have heard), so you may be thinking about ways to help them on a budget. Here are some tips for low-cost ways to do your part.
1.Build a backyard garden from seed
Buying already-matured plants from a nursery can be a bit cost-prohibitive – especially if you’re beginning a garden and need to buy quite a few plants. Instead, be patient and start a bee-friendly garden from seed. This gives you the perfect opportunity to get your family involved. You can teach your kids about the various stages of plant growth, from germination to sprouting, to growth and blooming. Letting a child grow plants from seed to maturity helps them feel responsible for the health of the garden. The beginning stages of from-seed gardening can even be done indoors, too. The great thing about gardening from seed is that it takes up less room at first, so it’s great for people with less garden space. Here’s how to get started on that.
When making your decisions on what to plant, keep the bees’ preferences in mind. Bees like single flower tops
(easier to access pollen/nectar), and fragrant blue, purple, yellow, or white varieties. For more on making a space that bees will love, check here.
2. Shop organic at your local farmers’ market
Buying organic is one of the best ways to help bees on a global scale from your own backyard. Organic farming does not use the pesticides that are linked with causing bee colony decline, so by putting your dollars in these farmers’ pockets, you’re doing your part to protect bees. Organic produce at the grocery store may cost more, so opt for local farmers’ markets which usually have extremely competitive pricing.
3. Get into backyard beekeeping
For the more ambitious bee protector, think about getting into backyard beekeeping. Not only will you be doing your part to bolster local populations, but you’ll be rewarded tenfold by the bees, which will pollinate your garden and produce honey. By the time you buy the hive, bees, and protective gear, you’re looking at around $500. This may seem like a lot of money, but these are mostly one-time costs. Once you’ve set everything up, there’s very little extra money you have to put into it. This is why this qualifies as low-cost, as far as hobbies go.
4. Buy local honey
In the grand scheme of things, local honey may cost a bit more than your grocery store bear bottle. But in terms of impact-to-cost ratio, it’s incredibly efficient. Local apiaries practice better beekeeping techniques than large, national companies. Not only will you be helping local bees and beekeepers by support their craft, but your honey will taste better too. Some may argue there are even health benefits to eating local, raw honey.
You don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to make a huge impact when it comes to protecting bees in your own backyard. Gardening, buying local honey, and going organic are also beneficial to your own physical and mental wellbeing. It’s truly a win-win for all involved.