You may have heard about the alarming decline of honey bee populations throughout the United States, but also around the world. Honey bees serve a very important function in our environment and in our food chain. They not only produce honey but they also help pollinate crops as they forage for nectar and pollen. In South Carolina, about one-third of our crops are pollinated by honey bees, which equates to about $25 million worth of food each year. However, not everyone is comfortable with hundreds of honey bees hanging around if they pick your property to build a hive on. With honey bee populations declining and their importance to our ecosystem, you certainly don’t want to harm them but what can you do? Let’s take a look! The Buzz About Honey Bee Hives If you have noticed a honey bee hive on your property and someone in your family has a bee/wasp allergy or you just aren’t comfortable with so many bees hanging around, there are things you can do. First, keep in mind that honey bees are important to our ecosystem in a number of ways and they are unlikely to sting unless threatened (unlike yellow jackets, hornets and wasps). The best thing to do is to notify a wildlife removal and relocation service like Pee Dee Wildlife. Many of these services work with local beekeepers who can come out and safely relocate the hive to a bee farm. They have the expertise to relocate the honey bees without harming them. They’ll also remove the hive structure itself to prevent a new group of bees from moving in. Support Healthy Honey Bees Even if you don’t have a hive on your property (and don’t want one), there are still things you can do to help support a healthy and thriving honey bee population. Here are just a few ways you can help our local honey bees.
- Avoid using chemicals on your lawn and outdoor pesticides as much as possible – these chemicals are deadly for bees. In September 2016, Dorchester County in South Carolina sprayed for mosquitoes in an effort to control the spread of Zika virus at the wrong time of day (about 8 A.M. after bees were already out and foraging), leading to a mass kill-off of over 2.5 million honey bees.
- Honey bees need a lot of water. Consider adding a small water fountain to your landscaping or fill a bird bath with fresh water each morning for honey bees to drink from during the daylight hours. Just be sure to dump the water out prior to dusk each day as mosquitoes use standing water to breed.
- If possible, leave a small area of your property for “wild growth” of local plants, such as grasses, wildflowers and even weeds. The more diverse sources of nectar and pollen honey bees have, the healthier the whole hive will be and the better the quality of the honey.
- Select plants for your yard that make for great bee food. Not every plant that blooms provides good food for bees, especially highly-hybridized plants. However, there are plenty of flowers, trees and even vegetables and herbs you can choose that feed honey bees. Trees such as Red Bud, Southern Magnolia, Cherry and Sourwood are great sources of bee food. Flowers and other plants that are good sources of bee food include clover, cone flower, poppies, geraniums, lotus, aster and bee palm to name a few. In your vegetable and herb garden, choose options such as squash, pumpkin, berries, sunflowers, corn, cow peas, sage and mint.
With the weather warming up, honey bees are awake and foraging for food or even setting out in small swarms to establish new hives. If you notice a honey bee hive under construction on your property and need them removed, please call a responsible wildlife relocation service to safely move these vital critters to a location where they can thrive with a professional beekeeper. Pee Dee Wildlife is committed to preserving our local honey bee population and we are just a phone call away.