Camping comes with its nuisances, we’ll admit, but they're part of the total outdoor experience! Most of us have experienced unpleasant visits from bees while out camping, which has made it tempting to get out the bug sprays and fly swatters to take care of the problem, but that is the exact opposite of what you should do! Keep reading to find out why bees are important to our planet, and what you can do to help save the bees while RVing!
The Negative Effects of Losing Our Bee Population
The buzz lately is that the world’s bee population is drastically declining, and unfortunately this is true! There has been more than a 40 percent decrease in honeybee colonies over the past 10 years! If you don’t find that statistic alarming, you should consider the facts!
- According to a report published in 2011, bees pollinate $15 billion worth of crops each year and produce $150 million worth of honey annually. Without bees, you could say goodbye to foods like:
-Cucumbers (and pickles!)
- Without bees to pollinate, this task will fall on the efforts of human labor, which costs money! Prices of food, especially fresh produce, will skyrocket.
- Pesticide use, global warming, loss of habitat, and diseases/parasites are all culprits of the declining bee population, and most of these practices can be prevented and/or reversed.
Unplug the Bug Zapper
Although these help to keep mosquitos away from your campsite, a bug zapper can be one of the quickest ways to do your part in the destruction of the world’s bee population. A bee’s vision is uniquely designed to see ultraviolet light best, so the glow of a bug zapper can be tempting, luring them to their demise. Find an alternative!
Plant Bee-Friendly Plants
Since pollination is the biggest reason why bees are our friends, provide them with more opportunities to pollinate! If you’re living full time in an RV park and are able to landscape on your campsite, plant some flowers and shrubs that bees will like! The Cheerios brand recently gave away a whopping 1.5 billion free wildflower seeds to aid in the efforts to help save the bees!
When choosing plants to put into your campsite garden, avoid red buds or leaves, as red appears more like the color green to bees, so they may not have interest in those plants. Instead, plant blue, yellow, white, and purple flowers, which are much more visible. Try out these lovely blooms to help the bees:
- Bee balm
Feel free to contact your local greenhouse for a more specific list of bee-friendly plants that will thrive in your particular location!
Put Away the Pesticides
You may not have to worry about this too much on your campsite, but if you do tend your own plants on your full-time site, or if you maintain a garden back home, avoid using pesticides as much as you can. As one of the top reasons to blame for the decline of the bee population, pesticides can poison bees, which is the opposite of what you’re trying to accomplish by having a garden! If you must use pesticides, use them with caution, and avoid it as much as you possibly can during high pollination times. For a list of natural alternatives, PETA has some great ideas to keep pests from destroying your garden.
Don’t Destroy Hives!
While we understand that it’s a nuisance to have a bee hive close to your living quarters, and can even be downright dangerous to those who are allergic to bees, destroying an entire colony of bees for your comfort just isn’t something the planet can afford! Instead, if you find a bee hive at or around your campsite, contact campground management. Ensure that they will call a local bee keeper, who can relocate the hive safely so that the bees won’t be destroyed. If management refuses to save the bees, don’t be afraid to take matters into your own hands and contact a bee keeper yourself!
Trust me, I suffered through a camping trip where there was a hornet's nest nearby, and after a frantic fight for my life after a hornet the size of my pinky decided to visit us in our pup tent, I know how imperative it can be to get those nests removed. That’s just another reason why education is important; although hornets and wasps can pollinate too, you’ll want them removed as they are more aggressive to humans and animals. But some of these species can look almost exactly like bees, which is why you’ll want to call in an expert before you get on the warpath of destruction!
Set Up a Bee Watering Station
Honeybees especially are really hard workers, and they can get tired, hungry, and thirsty after buzzing around to collect nectar. Give them a refresher by creating a bee watering station! Using a pie tin or bowl, fill it most of the way with rocks or marbles, then fill the container with water level with the rocks.This provides a great spot for bees to rest up and refresh before they take off again! For a more self-sufficient setup, use a pet water dish with a water reservoir and fill the dish with rocks. This way you can let it be without worrying about it drying up!
Just be sure that you never give bees any artificial sweeteners, and do not provide them with honey. There could be diseases in honey that are harmful to bees, and consuming this honey can cause the spread of the disease and accelerate the decline of the bee population. Also, try to set up this station away from your campsite as much as possible. You don’t exactly want bees swarming your campsite, and I’m sure your neighbors won’t appreciate it much either.
Shop From Local Organic Farmers
Whether you’re out on the road on an RV getaway or stocking up the pantry at home, get out and support your local organic farmers! Most cities have weekly farmers markets where you’ll be able to browse a large assortment of locally grown foods and products!
Organic farmers grow their crops without the use of pesticides and they incorporate nature into all aspects of the farming process, which definitely promotes a safe environment for bees! Without harmful and deadly pesticides, bees can pollinate freely and continue to provide us with the fresh produce we take for granted! If you are RVing in a new area, try a quick Internet search, or ask your camp host where and when farmers markets are held.
Contact Your Representatives
Although all of the previously mentioned ideas will benefit the bee population, it’s a very small-scale impact in the grand scheme of saving the bees. So don’t be afraid to get vocal! Commercial farmers will continue to use pesticides as long as they’re allowed to, so contact someone who can make that change! Take advantage of your campground’s free Wi-Fi service to send an email, write a letter, or give your representatives a call, no matter where you are!
Get in touch with your representatives from congress, as well as state-elected officials, and let them know that you are one of the thousands, if not millions, of people out there who will not stand for the practices that continue to harm our bee population. Sign as many petitions as you can, even if they’re for legislative changes in other countries, as this is a global crisis that we need to address! Also talk to your friends about this important cause and have them take the same measures!
The first step toward doing your part in saving the bees is understanding. Bees aren’t out to get you, and will likely leave you alone if you don’t swat at them! Now that you know how detrimental it can be for our earth to lose its bee population, try all these suggestions of what you can do to help save the bees while RVing!
We here at RV World care about preserving nature so that you and future generations can enjoy a true camping experience, complete with your favorite vegetables, and yes, even bees! As your favorite West Michigan RV dealer, we want you to be able to hitch up your RV and experience true natural beauty for years to come!
What other measures do you take to help the bees? Leave us a comment so that others can give them a try too!