Do you have aspiring beekeepers at home? While you may not be ready to start your own honey-making hive, you can teach your kids how to support pollinators in your own backyard—or balcony. Creating a bee-friendly garden is a great summer project and an excellent way to help nurture and support a critical part of our ecosystem.
Right now, half of bee colonies are dying and when one in three bites of food at the dinner table is brought to you by pollinators, that loss is significant. Bees are under threat “from the combined effects of climate change, intensive agriculture, pesticide use, biodiversity loss and pollution,” says the UN.
In response to this threat, beekeeping is on the rise. There’s even a Beekeeper Barbie! While pollinating crops is essential, kids are often most interested in the sweet honey bees produce—and rightfully so. Eating high-quality honey raises levels of disease-fighting antioxidants in the blood. It can also be used to treat minor burns and wounds, soothe sore throats and suppress coughs. Honey is also the main ingredient in natural health products like Honibe’s Gummie Bee vitamins, which uses local Canadian honey and now features Beekeeper Barbie on its new packaging.
You don’t have to adopt your own hive to support bees. Helping pollinators is easy. Shop products made with Canadian honey and protect pollinators at home with these simple gardening tips.
Make bees feel at home in your outdoor space
- Many bees nest in the ground. If you have a yard, leave an open patch of soil in an out-of-the-way spot to encourage bees to nest.
- Resist the urge to keep your garden overly tidy. Patches of ornamental grass, hollow stems, twig bundles or dead leaves make great nesting places for bees.
Give bees something to eat
- Plant flowers, shrubs, herbs and trees that will bloom from spring to fall so there’s always a little something for bees to enjoy.
- When at the garden centre, try to buy plants native to Canada. Some cultivated plants are sterile and won’t provide any nourishment for our buzzy friends. If you’re not sure which plants are which, ask for help or arrive with a list. Pollinator Partnership Canada offers some great resources for finding native plants perfect for your province.
- Choose a wide variety of flowers to ensure that bees get a diet full of nectar (which is sugar and provides energy), and pollen (which provides fats and protein) and plant them in groups or bunches. Bees are attracted to flowers that are shades of purple, blue, white or yellow.
- If you have a balcony, plant bright flowers in pots and window boxes.
- Plant sunflowers. Bees love them in the summer, and birds will make use of them in the fall and winter. Sunflower seeds are easy to plant for young children, and dwarf varieties are available for balconies and small spaces.
Make a bee bath
- You’ve heard of birdbaths, but what about one for bees? Bees need water for a variety of reasons, including digestion, cooling the hive and feeding larvae.
- A small, shallow dish (preferably clay, terra cotta or ceramic), with some rocks for the bees to perch on while they drink and a bit of water is all you need. Set the dish on an upside-down pot in a shady, protected spot in the garden.
Bee-friendly gardening tips
- Avoid using chemicals on your lawn and garden, as this is one of the leading causes of decreased bee populations.
- Be sure to swap your leaf blower for a rake (get kids to pitch in!), as blowers can disturb and destroy habitats.
- Consistently deadhead flowers to encourage re-blooming, keeping more blooms around for longer.
Want to learn more about bees and how to support them? Visit your local library or check out online resources like National Geographic Kids, the David Suzuki Foundation, Pollinator Partnership Canada (an organization Honibe supports) or blogs like the one found at Honibe.com.
Bring your love for bees home with Honibe® Gummie Bees. Honibe has been making honey-based natural health products since 2007, with a mission to provide families with honey-based health solutions while respecting the environment. Their gummies use real Canadian honey and clean ingredients and they have teamed up with Barbie™ to make the world a sweeter place. You can find three Barbie™ x Honibe vitamin varieties with the new Barbie packaging: Omega 3 Brain Health, Complete Kids Multivitamin + Immune, and Vitamin D Bone Health Gummie Bees.