Oregon is home to about 500 species of bees. You can find them in forests, fields and our own gardens. These busy insects are the main pollinators for 90% of plants, so keeping them healthy is important for the production of food and protection of our environment. But the past decades the little fellows have been increasingly struggling due to the use of aggressive pesticides, herbicides and deterioration of their habitats.
In the State
The State of Oregon has acknowledged this and started the Oregon Bee Project. This website offers educational information, ways to get involve, an overview of individual supporting initiatives (such as the Oregon Bee Atlas) and talks about how to become a beekeeper.
There is the possibility to ask bee-related questions, anybody can learn to identify the different species by taking the taxonomy course, go out in nature for a run of bee-spotting or find resources to use in class.
Last year, the Friends of Columbia Gorge hosted, as part of their ‘Gorgeous Wildlife’ series, a webinar on bees.
Then there is the iNaturalist initiative. Their website and app helps to identify and discuss species of animals and plants encountered on your walks in nature.
Oh, an all of this started because it is World Bee Day!
Don’t sting me!
Bees are often not welcome in the backyard. This stems from misinterpreting their intentions. It is probably just tired.
These little insects are not aggressive, but they will defend themselves when threatened. So waving at them is not the best way to communicate. Instead, when a bee lands, let it be for those couple of minutes it is hoping to rest.
That is better for you, and for the bee as most bees die after stinging. You read that right; where the more aggressive wasps and yellow jackets can sting and be on their merry way, bees die after being forced into an act of aggression. So you can imagine they prefer not to sting at all.
In the backyard
Our bees love certain flowers and plants native to Oregon. Over thousands of years they have grown closer, creating a symbiotic relationship between them. Something to keep in mind, next time you take up a landscaping project.
They might also enjoy an insect hotel. Many elaborate constructions can be bought. Or you can make your own using leftover garden materials!