In the past survey year, we experienced a 45.5% decline in the American honeybee population.¹ Though we don’t have the exact stats, we know that wild bee species are in decline as well. This is alarming because bees play a critical role in our food supply,² environment,³ and economy.⁴
One of the leading causes of our declining bee populations is habitat loss. There are three main types of habitat loss: habitat destruction, habitat degradation and habitat fragmentation.
Sometimes referred to interchangeably as habitat loss, this occurs when natural habitat is converted to human uses, including cropland, urban areas and infrastructure development.
This occurs when the condition of natural habitat declines. It’s caused by factors such as pollution, invasive species, natural disaster, and over-utilization of natural resources.
This occurs when natural habitat is divided into smaller pieces that might be too small to sustain populations of species. It’s a common result of road and housing development.
Bees depend on the surrounding environment for food and nesting sites. In order to restore and protect our bee populations, we must restore and protect natural habitats.
Protect Bee Habitat
To protect bee habitat, limit how often you mow, particularly in early spring. Clovers and dandelions make for great bee food before other flowers bloom.
Another easy action is to use bee-friendly pesticides whenever possible. Look for main ingredients like garlic, kaolin clay, corn gluten and bacillus thuringiensis.⁵
Restore Bee Habitat
To restore bee habitat, plant bee-friendly flowers. Blue and yellow flowers tend to be the easiest for bees to spot. Flowers with simple petal arrangements, like Black-eyed Susans, generally have the easiest access to pollen and nectar.
Try your best to find native flowers with these qualities. Natives are best suited for the growing season, climate and soils of your natural environment, and the native bees have evolved with them.⁶
Take care to avoid plants that have been treated with neonicotinoids. Neonicotinoids are the most common insecticides in the US, and they’re known to impair and kill bees.⁷ Many nurseries and home improvement stores have phased them out, but it’s still worth doing your research.
Introducing Habikit, Our Bee Habitat Restoration Initiative
To make the bee habitat restoration easy, we’re partnering with local scientists and landscapers to design region-specific bee habitat kits, called “Habikits.”
Each Habikit includes a planter box (27.5"x12"x10") branded with our logo, carefully-selected flower seeds and a special soil mix to help your plants thrive. They’re designed to be low-maintenance and suitable for any outdoor space, whether it be urban or rural, public or private.
This spring, we’re launching our pilot Habikit initiative. Limited-edition Habikits designed for the Southern Appalachia region are available for preorder today at $150 each. For every three purchased, we’ll install another in an area of need.
To support our initiative and help us make Habikit available to more regions in Spring 2023, consider making a donation to our organization. You can follow us on Instagram (@buildforbees) for initiative updates.