Be Bee Friendly: Budget Gardening Tip

If you’ve been following the news, you’re aware that more than 25% of the U.S. honey bee population has disappeared over the last several winters. This affects many nut, fruits and berry crops – important produce for farmers and food manufacturers, and key ingredients in many of the most popular Häagen-Dazs flavors. The ice cream maker reports that researchers believe causes for the decline in the bee population include:

  • Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). More than 35 states across the continental United States and in two provinces in Canada, Belgium, and Spain have reported this condition.
  • Varroa Mites – Inadvertently introduced into the United States in 1987, these tiny brown parasites feed exclusively on honey bees.
  • Viruses– Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus (IAPV) is linked with CCD.
  • Chemical Exposure – Tests on pollen in CCD-affected hives show levels of 45 different types of insecticides, fungicides and herbicides.
  • Lack of Nutrition – A limited supply of good pollen and nectar (due to drought) has had an effect on the honey bee population.
  • So what can you as a gardener or concerned citizen do to help the honey bees? First, create a bee-friendly garden with plants that are attractive to honey bees. These include lavender, jasmine, rosemary, violets, thyme, blue bells, wisteria, cone flowers and sunflowers – common perennials and herbs that are easy to grow and add beauty to your garden.

    You can also buy local honey and hive products such as beeswax candles – see the National Honey Board’s Honey Locator to find suppliers near you.

    An even tastier solution is to support Haagen-Dazs by purchasing Vanilla Honey Bee ice cream, profits from which go to fund research to save the bees. Find a store here — and on May 13, you can try a scoop for free at participating Häagen-Dazs shops between 4-8 pm.

    Image courtesy of Häagen-Dazs