Bay Area Bees Don’t Need Special Winter Help
Just as many gardening blogs, books, and general advice focus on the majority of the country where they have this thing called “winter,” so do Social Media trends. I keep seeing posts and articles on LOCAL Facebook groups giving helpful advice on how to “save” bees in the winter’s cold.
This is one such post: https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=10159803672915742&set=a.10150339174890742
And this is a helpful article about bees in the winter (which, I repeat, most of Bay Area does not have): https://www.honeybeesonline.com/winter-bees/
So we shouldn’t help the bees?
I have nothing against helping the bees, but I know that our bees in the Bay Area have it easy in the winter. If the temperatures stay above 50 degrees F, as they usually do, the bees just do what they usually do: collect pollen and make honey. In fact, beekeepers here might get extra batches of honey versus keepers in less temperate parts of the country!
In our mild winter months, we can skip the sliced apples and other snacks (can you imagine the raccoon feast on night one of that experiment?), and our bees will be just fine.
How we can actually help Bay Area Bees?
Don’t use pesticides
When we try to eliminate pesky bugs that harm our food and flowering plants, we we need to also think about how they might affect other, beneficial insects like bees. Think localized and natural solutions rather than broad-spectrum and synthetic.
Plant & cultivate plants that flower in the winter or year-round
Some plants grow well or even best in our mild winters, and bees will appreciate the extra pollen. I imagine they get sick of the bottlebrush after a while!
Some flowers you might consider:
- Johnny-jump-up (available from Botanical Interests)
- Violas (available from Botanical Interests)
- Pansies (available from Botanical Interests)
- Iceland Poppies (available from Botanical Interests)
- Calendulas (available from Botanical Interests)
- English Daisy (available from Ferry Morse)
- Sweet Alyssum (available from Baker Creek)
And don’t forget that many shrubs and trees supply blooms this time of year, like bougainvillea and honeysuckle, as well as the weeds that pop up like oxalis (sourgrass) and miner’s lettuce.
Buy honey from local beekeepers
The real heroes of bringing bees back from the colony collapse crisis have been backyard beekeepers. These are the folks you should call if you ever find a swarm of bees (NOT an exterminator!). They will–usually for free–skillfully remove that pesky swarm to a new home.
Eating local honey from those beekeepers closest to you is said to help with seasonal allergies.
Check out this video of my favorite beekeeper. She’s in Texas, but you can see how awesome beekeepers can be!