Bees Need Your Help This Winter

‘The winter season can be a particularly harsh time for bees. Even in a good year, anywhere from 35 to 75% of honeybee colonies are lost over those months. Fortunately, there’s a lot we can do to help bees stay warm throughout the colder months and prepare for spring. Here are four actions you can take from home to help bees survive the winter.’ (The Beeport Card – Environmental Action)

  • 1. Keep raked leaves in the yard. Autumn leaves provide great shelter for burrowing bumblebees and other overwintering pollinators. Place branches over the raked pile to keep leaves in place.
  • 2. Add clusters of winter-blooming plants to your garden or balcony. Bees take in carbohydrates from floral nectar and protein from floral pollen. Having clusters of winter-blooming plants will provide bees some much-needed nourishment. Plants like crocus, primrose, and snowdrop will bloom even when there is snow on the ground.
  • 3. Don’t disturb bare areas of soil in your garden or along trails. Many wild bees, including bumblebees, spend the winter in small nests in the ground. This habitat helps them stay warm and safe.
  • 4. Avoid pesticides. This is important year-round, but especially in winter when bees are at their most vulnerable. Certain pesticides, such as neonicotinoids and sulfoxaflor, are particularly toxic to bees and have been implicated in large scale die-offs.
  • Whether you take one or all of these steps, bees will thank you by emerging for spring in just a few short months.

The Environmental Action site has a report card by state ranking each on bee conservation policy initiatives ‘which fell into the following categories: (1) regulating pesticide use, (2) establishing and improving pollinator habitat, and (3) raising public awareness about pollinators and funding research.’

Oregon State University has several research-based publications about Bees and Pollinators. Also, the Tillamook Beekeepers Association is an excellent local resource.

~ Contributed by Alexis West, Master Gardener

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