We’re all a-buzz about bees, the wondrous pollinators that make our natural world possible. Bees have been in the news because as filmmaker Louie Schwartzberg points out, they are disappearing. This is a serious environmental threat and scientists are exploring ways to protect pollinators like bees, who are responsible for 1/3 of the food we eat. In addition, millions of people are doing their part by raising bees on their roofs and in gardens and planting flowers filled with the nectar bees love to sip.
The Green Roof Trend
In an article on urban beekeeping and green rooftops, National Geographic notes that buildings in cities from New York to Paris are adding green roofs. These urban oases provide vegetation for water control, a natural habitat and importantly, cleaner air. Moreover, once a building has a rooftop green space and there is room for a small hive, why not get into beekeeping?
As the article points out, executive chefs like Ian Bens (Juniper Restaurant in Washington, D.C.) are embracing this trend. Bens keeps bees on the roof of the Washington Fairmont Hotel, where his restaurant is located, and includes the honey in baked goods and other dishes. The hotel chain also keeps bees at about 20 properties around the world.
People looking to eat natural, pure foods are also on board. Too often sugar or corn syrup is added to honey for a sweeter (and cheaper) product. And mass-produced honey may contain no pollen, which has documented health benefits.
Becoming a Bee Buddy
Whether you are thinking of setting up a beehive in your back yard or you live in a building with a green roof, you’ll find lots of advice online. Plus, there are beekeeping classes taught by certified master beekeepers and local organizations like the Los Angeles County Beekeeping Community support beekeeping. Supplies and hives are readily available. For example, Williams-Sonoma sells a Backyard Beehive & Starter Kit but you’ll have to buy the bees separately.
However, if you aren’t ready to put on protective gear and start harvesting your own honey, there are ways to be a bee buddy. Welcome these precious pollinators to your garden by planting species they like, such as salvia, mint and lavender. However, when you’re planning your bee garden, be sure to remember these rules of the road:
- Never use pesticides. You will kill bees as well as the pests
- Plant local native plants, which are four times more attractive to native bees. Natives are also easier to grow.
- Choose different flower colors to attract bees, such as blue, purple, violet, white, and yellow. Plant them in clumps, four feet or more in diameter.
- Plant flowers that have different shapes. There are four thousand different species of bees in North America, and they are different sizes and have different tongue lengths.
And if you’re not into gardening or beekeeping, you can still support bees. Simply make a commitment to always buy organic, 100% raw honey from a local source.
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 National Geographic, “Urban Beekeeping on Green Rooftops,” Mary Beth Albright, May 2014
 The Spruce, “How to Attract Bees and Other Pollinators to Your Garden,” Marie Iannotti, June 2018