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You know the sound…a quick buzz right by your ear on a hot summer day. You swat and shoo the sound away but it returns only moments later: the honey bee.
For ages, we’ve been conditioned to fear and avoid bees, and for some valid reasons: they seem to come around where they’re not welcome (like when they dive bomb into your sweet glass of lemonade), and the occasional sting from a bee is enough to put both children and adults on edge when they make their appearance. But contrary to popular belief, bees are not “out to get us.” In fact, with a little education, you may find there’s much more to love about them than to hate.
Here’s a few reasons to welcome honey bees and and a few ways we can be better stewards of their home and environment.
What’s to Love
Did you know that 1/3 of our food sources in the U.S. alone depend on pollination from bees (and other insects)? Plants and food crops like fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, and beans all require pollination to grow, thrive, and reproduce. So that means that less bees equals less food production in the long term.
Probably the most well known benefit of the honey bee is the liquid gold they produce: HONEY. But what you may not know is that honey is more than just a tasty sweetener to stir into your tea or drizzle over a buttered biscuit. Honey has a long list of health benefits aside from nourishment. This tasty nectar is rich in antioxidants, which are linked to reduced risk of heart attack, stroke, and some types of cancer. It’s antioxidant compounds can also help to lower blood pressure and improve cholesterol.
Not only does honey benefit the human body internally, it can also affect change topically. It has been applied to burns, wounds, and ulcers for centuries, as well as being used as an anti-aging remedy for skin wrinkles. Basically, honey is the miracle food and is ONLY made by, you guessed it, honeybees.
How to Help
While you may be okay with the occasional bee buzzing around in your yard, the majority of home-owners likely do not care to have an entire swarm or hive taking up residence on their property. But before you bust out the sprays and pesticides or call an exterminator, give your local bee keeper’s association a call. The Northeastern Indiana Beekeeper’s Association (NEIBA), in partnership with the Southwest Honey Company, will come free of charge to extract and relocate swarms to an apiary where they can continue to thrive, pollinating and producing honey. Here’s a recent article with resources on how to identify honey bee swarms and how to contact the Southwest Honey Company to relocate bees from your property, in and around the Fort Wayne area.
If hives or swarms aren’t a problem on your property, but you are eager to help provide a healthy, beneficial habitat for the bees that are in your area, consider planting bee-friendly flowers, herbs, and trees (that have not been pre-treated with pesticides) on your land or in your yard. These will provide a habitat for honey bees to thrive as they venture out from their hives each day in search of plants to pollinate. Click here for more on what plants to plant in your yard!
Lastly, consider providing a source of water for the bees to drink from because just like people, bees need to stay hydrated on hot summer days! An easy way to do this is to place some stones and pebbles in a filled bird bath so that honey bees can crawl into the water to drink without drowning.
We hope that these buzz-worthy bee facts inspire you to better steward and care for the honey bees that benefit us in so many ways!