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Editor's note: This list was originally featured on the blog Tilly's Nest. Check it out (and other great blogs) on Grit.com

Bees are important. In addition to being everyone’s favorite picnic guests, bees function as some of the great pollinators of the world. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, they feed 80 percent of the crops that we eat including broccoli, apples, asparagus, blueberries and coffee to name a few. They also pollinate alfalfa, a grass that feeds beef and dairy cows. 

Because of their importance to our food crops it is becoming crucial to support these little beauties. Here are some easy ways to do it (without building a hive in your back yard).


 1. Let Your Lawn Get Back To Its Roots

Put that weed-eater away! Bees don’t have any use for a perfectly manicured sea of St. Augustine. They’re over it. They prefer somethng similar to their natural habitat—a meadow.

Think about letting a portion of your yard go back to its roots. Allow dandelions and clover to grow again (two of bees' favorite delicacies). Not only will you spend less time mowing your lawn, the bees will thank you for it.


2. Just say 'No' to Chemicals

Pesticides and herbicides contain chemicals that are very harmful to bees and other beneficial insects. Avoid chemicals sprays on your plants and yard. Do some research and try some natural, bee-friendly alternatives. Even a product that labels itself as "organic" could still be a people/bee hazard.
 
If you must spray your plants try and do so when they are not in bloom or spray at times when the bees are inactive (early morning and dusk...like the best of us). 


3. Keep a Bee Garden

You've always wanted a private garden oasis, and now you have the perfect excuse to plant one.The bees NEED you!

Check out the Bumblebee Conservation Trust's website for a list of the most the most common bee-friendly flowers. Ideally pick flowers that are native to your area and will bloom at different times of the year or year-round. Put a shallow container of water in your garden so that the bees have a place to re-hydrate and add some twigs and pebbles to give them a place to land. Scatter refreshing beverages and patio furniture at random...for the bees.

4. Give the Gift of Bees

Give a hive of honeybees in the name of a friend, family member or even (as The Bloggess suggessted) someone you don't really like. By giving the gift of bees you are giving people in need a sustainable livelihood, providing a boost to the environment and protecting some of the world's most valuable food supplies. Do you know who wins in this scenario? EVERYONE.  

 
Photo by Russ Powell 

Heifer International cares about things like bees because we believe that sustainable solutions for improving the environment is essential. Though planting a honeysuckle or cutting back your pesticide use may seem like a small thing it can make a huge difference to the earth, and that is awesome!