It’s important for kids to learn more about the world around them. The more we teach younger generations about their environment, the better equipped they are to help protect it as they grow older. With bee populations on the decline, and many vital crops in danger as a result, honey bees need all the help they can get. Here are some different ways kids can help honey bees and the environment as a whole.
Learn More About the Bees
Like everyone else, the best thing kids can do to help protect and preserve honey bee populations is to learn more about them. Teach your kids about how their local environment operates and why it’s so important to take care of it. Get them interested in bees by explaining how a hive operates, or how worker bees pollinate flowers as they forage for nectar. You can buy bee books, educational tools, or other honey bee equipment to help children learn more about these productive little creatures. When kids understand exactly how honey bees impact and benefit their environment, they’ll be more invested in advocating for and protecting them.
Bust Bee Myths
There are many widespread myths about honey bees. Unfortunately, these misconceptions can sometimes be harmful, as they lead to people fearing and harming bees. While you’re teaching kids about all the wonderful things bees do, be sure to get rid of any misconceptions society has toward bees. Teach them that bees only sting when defending themselves or their hive, and that they’re naturally curious creatures. Bees might bump into or land on you if they’re investigating you, but they aren’t aggressive creatures. Tell children not to swat at bees or be afraid of them, but to just let them be.
While insects look and act extremely different than humans, they’re also living creatures. Of all the different ways kids can help honey bees, it’s especially essential to treat them with respect. Don’t mess with any hives you find in the wild, don’t mess with flowers that attract bees, and treat bees with care and consideration. Pay attention when walking through the yard or garden, especially when you’re barefoot. If kids hold respect for bees, they’ll also learn to respect the rest of the world around them and all the living creatures within it.
Plant Bee-Friendly Flowers
Starting or maintaining a garden is a fantastic activity to do with your kids. They get to be outside and active with their hands in the dirt, all while learning more about the world around them. Your garden can also double as an oasis for your local bee populations. Buy and plant bee-friendly flowers with your kids. Plants such as thyme, mint, bee balm, and fruits and vegetables attract bees. It’s also important to have a range of plants that will bloom at different times throughout the year so the local bees will always have a diverse supply of food. While you’re working in the garden, resist the urge to pull up weeds. While a neat garden might be visually appealing, some weeds are great resources for honey bees. Clovers and dandelions—two of the most common yard and garden weeds—are some of the bees’ favorite foraging destinations.
Make a Bee Paradise
Plants aren’t the only thing bees will love in your garden. Like all creatures, honey bees need water when they’re out working hard all day. Set up a place in your garden for bees to refresh themselves. Make sure it’s shallow enough or has rocks or twigs on the surface that they can rest on. A bird bath or dish works great, but you can also let your kids get creative in making a water feature. Another bee-friendly gardening tip is to stay away from pesticides. The chemicals in common pesticides are harmful to honey bees and other beneficial insects. Instead, use organic pest control solutions—and teach your kids to use them, too.
Support Local Hives
If you want to help honey bees, get in touch with your local beekeepers. Not only are they a great knowledge resource of fun and interesting bee facts, but they also do amazing work to protect bee populations. There are programs that let you fund a hive in return for updates, pictures, and some of its honey. You can also take the kids to your local farmers’ market, where beekeepers sell the honey from their hive. Many beekeepers also make and sell products made from beeswax, such as soaps and candles. While you’re there, kids also get the chance to talk to beekeepers about their bees, which is a great learning experience for everyone involved.
Protecting honey bees isn’t just a backyard job. There are many laws or regulations currently being debated that could greatly help bees—and as a result, the environment. For example, some governments are banning pesticides that cause harm to bees and other beneficial insects. Kids can make their opinions heard by spreading awareness about honey bees. Make posters or fliers to educate others on the importance of bees and their work. They can share what they know about making bee-friendly gardens or supporting local hives. This information can be posted on community bulletin boards or mailed to newspapers and government officials. Show kids that they can use their voice, knowledge, and creativity to make a difference in the world.
Get Your Own Hive
Of course, one of the best ways to help bees is to become a beekeeper yourself. If older children are interested and committed, consider getting a beehive in your own backyard or at a local farm. You might even be able to talk to your school about keeping a beehive. There are also many beekeepers who are happy to share their knowledge and experience with potential new members of the beekeeping community. No matter where it is, the chance to suit up and get some hands-on time with honey bees is a unique and exceptional experience. It might even turn into a life-long hobby and passion.