GratiTuesday: Busy Bees

Last December, the United Nations General Assembly designated each May 20 going forward as World Bee Day. The purpose of the proclamation was to bring to the world’s attention the importance of preserving bees and other pollinators

I’m not sure if you noticed, but your bees didn’t take Sunday off to celebrate. Nope, they continued to tirelessly work in your yard and in the fields to ensure their important work got done.

Bees play a crucial role in increasing crop yields and promoting food security and nutrition. Without them, we would have ceased to exist long ago. We eat their honey, we use their wax, and we rely on them to help our food grow. Bees are responsible for pollinating nearly 85% of all food crops. A third of all food produced in the world depends on pollination.

Unfortunately, a large percentage of bee species die off each year due to a variety of factors, including disease, parasites, pesticides, and the destruction of their main food sources. As more species die, we will lose crops and, eventually, certain plants will become extinct because they can’t reproduce. The fate of bees can also indicate when environmental dangers exist. Mass bee deaths have been past indications of the use of toxic chemicals, or severe climate changes, giving scientists further proof of how fragile our environment really is. In fact, research indicates that our environment would collapse if honeybees no longer existed.

So, if you didn’t get a chance to thank your bees last Sunday on World Bee Day, today is a great day to tell them how grateful you are for all their hard work. And, even better, here are a few concrete steps you can take:

  • Do not use any pesticides, fungicides or herbicides on plants or in your garden.
  • Plant your garden with native and bee friendly plants. Lawns are bee deserts.
  • Provide water for bees by putting out a little water basin for the bees to drink from during the warm days of summer. Put a few stones and floating cork on the water so bees won’t drown.
  • Buy local and raw honey from your local beekeepers.
  • Educate yourself, your children, and your grandchildren about bees. The Pollinator Partnership is just one source of great information about bees and their importance to our world.

Author: Janis @

My blog is about travel, relationships, photography, and whatever else pops into my head (even, sometimes, issues surrounding retirement and aging).

60 thoughts on “GratiTuesday: Busy Bees”

  1. Thanks for the tips of what to do to show our appreciation to the bees, Janis. I’ve long known the importance of bees but not how I could help. I certainly buy local, raw honey always. Now I’ll also buying some cork to float on the water.

  2. Thanks for that reminder Janis. I do love fresh honey and would hate for them to become extinct. BTW, did you know you can substitute honey for corn syrup in any recipe?

  3. I’ve heard that our unusually cold winter this year has killed off a number of local bee colonies. Certainly I haven’t seen a single bee yet this spring which is also very unusual.

    We humans think we are so superior to all the other species on this rock and yet our demise could very well be triggered by the loss of the small discreet bee family.

    1. A couple of years ago I had noticed a big drop-off in our bee population but now it appears they are back! I hope you have the same experience. You are so right about the interconnectedness of the Earth’s inhabitants. Too many people think their actions have no consequences.

  4. I am seriously thinking of planting some swamp milkweed for the bees and Monarch butterflies. I had some years ago but it tends to be invasive so I removed it. I now have a new area where I can sort of contain it. We used to have a beekeeper up on the main road when I moved here. He is long gone and I miss him and his bees, even though I am highly allergic to them.

    1. I hope you plant the milkweed! The Monarch population is in trouble too (as I’m sure you know) so anything we can do to help them is important. Beekeeping has always fascinated me… I love bees but I’m not sure I’d want them swarming around me!

  5. Great post! I have two bird baths, each with a large rock in the center. I love to watch the bees congregate on those rocks and along the edge of the bird baths. It does promote a few arguments between the birds and the bees!! Never would have thought to put a cork in. Thanks for the tip.

    I have a tip to help keep a bird bath clean. Throw in 6 COPPER pennies (dated before 1982). It won’t end having to clean the bowl, but you’ll be amazed at how less often you have to actually clean. Most days you can just tip the water out and refill with fresh water. Easy peasy!
    🔹 Ginger 🔹

    1. Interesting tip. I don’t have bird baths but I do intend to put out a few bees baths after learning how important they are. I bet my yard lizards (love them too!) will enjoy having a water supply too.

  6. Our neighbor has three large bee hives that her son takes care of. I’m always excited to see the bees visit my flowers because it means they are pollinating my garden too. They don’t sting unless seriously threatened. Unfortunately we also have wasps which eat honey bees and they don’t have a problem stinging people either!

  7. Fantastic creatures to be grateful for, Janis. I’ve always been in awe of bees, and have respected them, but it wasn’t until a few years ago that I realized their importance as mentioned in your post. Thanks for sharing this with the world and how to help.

    The corks in the water are a good idea. At our current house sit, the owners have multiple bird baths out and I see that the birds like to stand on the rock in the middle of one of them. I’ve also seen lots of ants who drowned in the shallower bird bath that’s on the ground. I think bees might slide off the slick rock, so I’m going to suggest the cork idea.

    1. I love the cork idea too! It’s such a simple idea and easy to do. Even more important is to stop using pesticides that are killing whole colonies. It amazes me that we still make and use chemicals that have such dire consequences on insects that are critical to our world.

  8. We have an abundance of bees in our yard this spring, collecting honey from the early blossoms. I love seeing them, from a healthy distance. Haha! I didn’t know about putting water out with corks in it. I’ll have to try that!

  9. Thanks for focusing on the bees. I love seeing them at our cotoneaster shrubs – seems to be their favorite thing in our yard, though we have lots of flowering plants. It makes me so angry that chemical companies continue to push away regulations that would help our pollinators. Sometimes I think these people are suicidal/homicidal maniacs.

    1. When companies are focused on the bottom line and short-term profits – with no regard for cause and effect – it’s not surprising that we have disastrous results. Unfortunately, we might be way too far down the road before the powers-that-be wake up. I sure hope not.

  10. I see lots of petitions floating around to various companies who produce pesticides. I always sign: not sure if it does any good but it doesn’t do any harm to try. I never thought of putting water out for bees, good tip.

  11. Growing fruit has made me very passionate about bees and their importance in the big circle of life. It’s been hard going for them a mite that nearly wiped them out! Good post Janis.

  12. Some great ideas about bees, Janis! With spring in full throttle, bees are everywhere! I like that idea of a water plate for them. They’ve been hanging around the hummer feeder lately! I was allergic to bee stings as a kids, so I’m still careful up close!

  13. I keep a section of our garden just as a butterfly and bee “habitat.” Everything that I plant there is with the hope of helping the bees thrive and stay safe. I don’t know if I’m making a difference in reality, but my intention is good. And it does make for a pretty little niche of flowers with a concrete bench that makes a fine place for a dish of water.

  14. Very interesting post Janis. I never thought about bees needing water, and, I should have thought about it because when I had a butterfly garden I put out “puddling dishes” which were low dishes filled with sand, and you wet the sand so they could get water from the moist sand. Then you put large flat rocks near the puddling dishes so they can sunbathe nearby, the drink from the dishes.

      1. I enjoyed the butterfly garden Janis. I had some colorful perennials already and then bought three butterfly bushes. The puddling dishes and flat rocks for sunbathing drew a lot of butterflies, even monarchs, and I didn’t have any milkweed plants but they liked the butterfly bushes. I got a couple of butterfly houses as well, for them to slip into as a safe haven, but I never saw any of them go in there. I lost the butterfly bushes and all my perennials in the entire yard when we had the first Polar Vortex and I was so disgusted I never replanted anything. Good thing as we had Polar Vortex II the following year.

        Here’s an article about creating a puddling dish for the butterflies. I bought a book on creating a butterfly garden and they recommended terra cotta dishes since they hold the moisture and keep it cool. I filled it every morning when I watered the flowers:

  15. Hi, Janis – Thank you for this great information. We have plenty of bees in our garden. We always have fresh water available for them as well. I didn’t know about the cork. I am off to rectify that now!

  16. Bees tend to get a bad rap just because of their stingers (and allergies, I get it, since I am allergic)…but they are powerhouses in the environment as you know. Plus they offer a lot of characteristics we as humans can adapt as symbolic values…
    Great post, Janis.

  17. Janis, this may be one of your more impactful posts. My environmentally conscious and studious daughter has a Save the Bees license plate. Keith

  18. Hi Janis. This is a very important topic. Thanks for writing about it. I have been an organic gardener for decades, and we NEVER use pesticides of any type on our garden or lawn. Yes, we have a somewhat weedy looking lawn rather than a green monoculture carpet, but dandelions, clover, and other weeds and hardy local plants also are important flowers for bees and other beneficial insects. Our flowering garden is a haven for bees and butterflies.

    I think that the most important things that we can do, as individuals, is (1) to refuse to use pesticides and other toxic chemicals ourselves, and (2) lobby for our local area, state, province, or country to implement bans on neonicotinoids. The European moratorium on neonicotinoid insecticides on crops that attract bees provides a model of this important action.

    Sometimes I feel such despair that we have allowed big multinational corporations to have such unrestricted rights to pursue profits that they are proceeding to destroy the environment for all future humanity – decimation of the bees due to neonicotinoids being one good example.


    1. Thanks for your great comment, Jude. We really need to get over the “ideal” of perfect lawns and gardens. When I see landscapes like that now, they look – despite all the color – dead to me. Give me healthy, exuberant imperfection any day! We need to protect our environment and all the creatures who live there.

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