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The plight of the honeybees has been making headlines as colonies are disappearing at a rate that is alarming to scientists and naturalists alike. Though most people avoid bees because of the risk of being stung, they are a vitally important part of our ecosystem.

Why are honeybees important?

At least one-third of the food we consume is dependent on the work of honeybees. As bees collect nectar and pollen to support the hive, they transfer pollen from plant to plant which fertilizes the plant and allows it to form fruit and seeds. Certain crops are dependant on honeybees for pollination, and beeswax and honey are used in a variety of common products. Since our food production is so vitally linked to the health of the hive, it’s extremely worrying to see them dying out so quickly.

Why are honeybees disappearing?

This epidemic of disappearing bees has been termed colony collapse disorder or CCD. While scientists say that the decline is due to a variety of interwoven factors such as pesticides, climate change, pollution, and habitat loss, a certain group of pesticides is largely to blame. Neonicotinoids are commonly used on farms and urban areas, and their ability to be absorbed by the plant makes them deadly to bees.

What can you do to help the honeybees?

Thankfully, there are many steps that you can take to help the honeybees make a comeback. If you like to garden, focus on planting a few areas of your yard with plants that are beneficial to honeybees such as sunflowers, lavender, mint, sage, squash, tomatoes, or pumpkin. Stop using chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides in your garden and opt for natural alternatives that do not have a harmful effect on the environment. Even if you have a black thumb, there are other ways to help the honeybees. Consider buying local, organic produce to reduce pollution, conserve natural resources, and support farmers who eliminate the use of pesticides. While you are buying produce at the farmer’s market or store, pick up some local honey and products made from beeswaxes, such as candles and salves, as well. Honey is a tasty natural sweetener that offers amazing health benefits, and supporting the farmers that keep bees will make it possible for them to continue to aid in the recovery of the honeybee.