In 2016, for the first time, bees were added to the endangered species list in the United States. 7 species of Hawaiian yellow-faced bees, native to Hawaii, were added. Then in early 2017, the first bee to be placed on the endangered species list by the Fish and Wildlife Service in the continental US was the rusty patched bumblebee. At the time of this writing the new administration in the White House had put this one on hold.
The Rusty Patched Bumblebee
Rusty patched bumblebees are the first bee in the continental US to be placed on the endangered species list for federal protection. This species has undergone an incredibly rapid decline by almost 90% in the last two decades. These large, furry-looking bumble bees used to be a common sight in most of North America, but this is no longer the case. They are essential pollinators of tomatoes, peppers, blueberries and other important crops.
Bees on the Endangered Species List
According to the Fish and Wildlife Service, once a species is on the list, it is easier for them to create partnerships and gather resources towards the goal of saving the endangered population. In the case of bees, this is no simple task. The decline of this bee (and also that of many other bee species worldwide) is thought to be caused by a combination of factors: diseases, lack of habitat, climate change and, of course, harmful pesticides and insecticides especially neonicotinoids. Neonicotinoids are used in products for gardens, farm crops and pets. Continue reading Bees on the Endangered Species List→
Luckily there are lots of places online where you can see gorgeous pictures of people making flawless beeswax candles. This post will not be that. Despite all the easily accessible information out there, I decided to go at it blind. I ordered 5 lbs. of pure beeswax from a local online retailer. It arrived at my house in a bag of little yellow pellets. How hard could making beeswax candles be? Well it turns out it was a lot more difficult than I thought.
Making Beeswax Candles
I had a vague memory of making lovely odd-shaped candles as gifts while in college. They were smooth, pear-shaped lovelies. My plan was that my daughter and I would whip up a quick batch as holiday gifts. I dove in blind, melted the wax in an old pot and started dipping away. It quickly became clear that we were missing some key piece of information that would have allowed our candles to look like, well, candles. Instead we got charming, but very lumpy blobs that I tried not to refer to as turds. Continue reading A First Attempt at Making Beeswax Candles→
The hallways of my daughter’s elementary school are so covered in kid-made posters and so crowded with actual kids and parents after school, that I usually notice very little on my way to her classroom to pick her up. But something caught my eye this week. I spied the words Colony Collapse Disorder on a marker-drawn poster! What?! I then discovered several more posters about how to save our bees throughout the halls. It turns out that a 3rd grade class had done a project on the ways we can all help save our bees.
Growing bee-friendly plants is one of the most helpful things each of us can do to help the the critical state of bees today. It’s spring and many of us are getting back out to the garden. Perhaps that display of seed packets has caught your eye at the grocery store. Whether you have acres or just a few pots on the porch, planting with bees in mind is a great idea. This is also a terrific way to involve kids of any age in gardening and in learning about bees and pollination. You could give each kid a small bee-patch to make their own bee gardens. What plants attract honey bees will vary by region. Check out this incredible resource for a specific pollinator-friendly planting guide for your region. You can enter your zip code and get a wonderful guide, tailored to your area.
Are you not quite sure how to tell honey bees from some of their look-alikes? All black and yellow pollinators are not created equal. Next time, take a closer look and you will soon learn to clearly see the differences between honey bees, bumble bees and wasps. Yellow jackets, hornets and paper wasps are all technically types of wasps — Not that it matters should you get stung.
So, what do honey bees look like? And how to tell them from their relatives?