5 Practical Ways That You Can Help Save The Bees

We all know that it is crucial we take steps to save the bees. After all, every one out of three bites of food we eat is dependent on bees for pollination. Our bee populations face many threats from things such as Colony Collapse Disorder, the overuse of pesticides, and habitat loss. We hear about how desperately we need to save the bees from our friends, the news, and countless TED talks. But it can be hard to know what one should actually do if they want to play a part in preserving our pollinators and their natural environments. So we have rounded up 5 different small things you can do that will have a big impact if enough people take the initiative. Read on to start saving the bees today!

Cultivate Native Plants

In order for bees to get pollinating, they need plenty of plants that they can choose from. But you want to make sure that you are cultivating plants that are native to the area in which you live if you want to help out your bees. This is because those bees have evolved to interact with those native plants specifically, non-native plants might not provide pollinators with the pollen or nectar that they need.

Here are some native California plants that you could put in your yard to help out your local pollinators:

  • California Poppies, this annual plant produces iconic orange flowers that are sure to lure bees in. It is a perennial that grows well in both sun and partial shade, it is also drought resistant.
  • Germander Sage, this bush is covered with brilliant blue blooms in early summer and fall. It needs full sun in order to thrive but it is deer resistant and attracts both bees and hummingbirds.
  • Cascade Creek Goldenrod, throughout spring and fall this plant displays bright yellow flowers that attract bees and butterflies. It needs full sun to partial shade and is drought resistant.
  • Catmint, this spreading perennial is hardy and herbaceous. It blooms in the spring and early summer and is beloved by many varieties of bees.

Use Safe Forms of pest control

There are many factors contributing to the decline of bee populations but one of the most significant is the use of pesticides in domestic and commercial agriculture. If you have a garden going then you want to find natural ways to keep out pests, or else we risk losing the ability to keep such gardens in the future. After all, many of the fruits and vegetables that we enjoy are pollinated by bees.

When looking for a pollinator-friendly form of pest-control it’s not enough for it to be labeled organic, some can still be toxic to pollinators even though they are plant-based. Instead, keep your eyes peeled for non-toxic ingredients such as Kaolin clay, garlic, and corn gluten. There are many other forms of natural pest control from bacterias and oils.

Create An Oasis For Bees In Your Yard/Patio

No matter the size of your yard or patio there are ways that you can create a safe haven for bees, even if you only have a front porch step to work with. Here are some things that you can do to keep your local bees happy:

  • Leave a dish of water outside for bees to rehydrate themselves. Make sure that you provide “landing zones” for them in the form of stones, twigs, or corks, as bees are clumsy and can easily drown. Also, don’t add sugar to the water. This is a myth and does not benefit them.
  • Place a bee hotel outside your home. We carry beneficial bug houses such as this at the Co-op! They allow bees to find a resting place on their long journeys from flower to flower.

Even if you don’t have room for a full garden having a single native plant on your patio is better than nothing!

Support Local Farmers and beekeepers

We can’t stress this point enough as the use of pesticides is one of the greatest threats to bee populations. Choosing to support farms that don’t spray pesticides will help the bees even more than if you personally stop spraying pesticides. Check out our local page to see some of the great local farms with outstanding practices that we carry at the co-op. You can also find many of these farms at the farmer’s market if you want to support them directly. 

Supporting local beekeepers is an even more direct way to help the cultivation of local bee populations. Purchasing bee products such as beeswax, honey, and honeycomb not only garner a sense of connection to the bees, but they help to support the people who’ve made supporting bees a life priority. A great local producer is Pure Honey from Winters, California.

Use YOUR VOICE, SPEAK FOR THE BEES

One of the most powerful ways that we can help the bees is through speaking out. By sharing what you’ve learned with others you may be able to inspire change in those close to you, and if we all do this it can lead to big results. You can also choose to support local organizations that are doing important work to help save the bees, such as:

  • Circle of Bees, which is built around sub/urban pollinators, especially honey-bees.
  • The Davis Bee Collective is a group of small-scale beekeepers dedicated to the cooperative practice and promotion of ecological apiculture.
  • The Haagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven at UC Davis is a unique outdoor museum that provides resources for local bee pollinators and educates visitors to create pollinator habitat gardens. It also provides a site for the observation and study of bees and the plants that support them.

Written by: Rachel Heleva, Marketing Specialist


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Tomato Time

Summer is the season for tomatoes!

Here at the Co-op we love the many delicious varieties of tomatoes that are available in the summer. Tomatoes offer a juicy, fresh flavor and are a healthy meal addition to everything from potluck pasta salad to a classic sandwich.

Let us take some time to appreciate the tomato and all it has to offer.

Fresh red ripe tomatoes on the vine on a dark rustic cutting board

Health Benefits:

Tomatoes are good sources of several vitamins and minerals

Vitamin C is essential for the production of collagen in the body and plays an important role in immunity by acting as an antioxidant in the body. One medium-sized tomato can provide about 28% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI).

Tomatoes contain many phytochemicals

Don’t forget to stop by our Produce Department for your fresh, local tomato needs!

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Composting Guide

Compost can be used as a fertilizer for your plants and garden with no risk of burning like with synthetic fertilizers. It also contains many beneficial microorganisms that keep away plant disease.

There are two types of home composting, Hot Composting and Cold Composting. Cold composting takes very little effort but will take much more time to produce compost. Hot composting requires more effort but will produce compost much quicker. Here is guide for the two:

Cold Composting

What you will need:
  • A large bin or hole in your yard
  • Worms (if you are digging a hole in your yard you wont need to buy many)
  • Dried yard trimmings (leaves, small pieces of wood)
  • Paper or egg cartons (and egg shells!)
  • A little healthy nutrient dense soil
  • Food Waste (can be added as you produce)

Food Waste:

Stick to leafy greens and produce with low acidity:

  • Banana peels
  • Chard, Kale, Cabbage, Lettuce, Spinach, etc
  • Carrots, beets, and other roots

Avoid high acidic produce:

  • Lemons
  • Oranges
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Leeks

Instructions:
  1. Prep your bin or dig your hole. 
  2. Add yard trimmings and paper to the bottom on the bin.
  3. Then add your nutrient dense soil and worms. 
  4. Add food scraps as you acquire them.
  5. Mix the compost pile whenever or never. 
  6. It will take 6 months to a year to get completed compost

Hot Composting

What you will need:
  • A large bin or hole in your yard
  • Worms
  • Dried yard trimmings (leaves, small pieces of wood)
  • Paper or egg cartons (and egg shells!)
  • A little healthy nutrient dense soil
  • Food Waste (can be added as you produce)
  • Water

Food Waste:

Stick to leafy greens and produce with low acidity:

  • Banana peels
  • Chard, Kale, Cabbage, Lettuce, Spinach, etc
  • Carrots, beets, and other roots

Avoid high acidic produce:

  • Lemons
  • Oranges
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Leeks

Your pile should maintain 1 part food waste and 2 parts dried yard trimmings. A healthy pile will 141F to 155F. This temperature will kill all weed seeds and disease pathogens.

Instructions:
  1. Prep your bin or dig your hole. 
  2. Add yard trimmings and paper to the bottom on the bin.
  3. Then add your nutrient dense soil and worms. 
  4. Add food scraps as you acquire them.
  5. Mix the compost pile 2-4 times a week. Check the temperature during each mix.
  6. It should stay damp, add water if needed.  
  7. It will take at least a few weeks to make compost.
  8. Use it in your garden and mix it in with soil when repotting indoor plants!

Written By Madison Suoja, Education and Outreach Specialist

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Saving Your Bulbs for Next Spring

Every Year at the Co-op we have Beautiful Tulips, Daffodils, Dahlias, Ranunculus, etc. All these flowers have an expiration date in early spring and won’t grow any other time. These flowers grow from bulbs, which can be saved and used again next year! Over the course of them blooming they also multiply so each year you save them, the following year you will have even more flowers!

Cut the flower down to 1.5-2 inches. Cut the flower stem and all the leaves.
Three different kinds of bulbs!

1. To harvest the bulbs first, you need to let the flower go through their cycle. Once the flower is beginning to shrivel up and die with no more blooms sprouting, you will cut back the flower. Cut the flower back so only 1.5 to 2 inches is remaining of the stem. 

2. Then you will let the stems sit in the pot until they have completely dried out.

This bulb is starting to split into three. They are still very stuff together so I will leave them together for now.
All the remaining stems have dried out completely. It it time to harvest!

3. Then you will separate the bulbs from the soil. They are in clusters in the soil, and we want to keep the clusters together. The bulbs will multiply, but you don’t want to separate them until they just fall apart. You can remove some of the dried skin around the bulbs, but don’t remove it all. Only remove the skin that is loose and easily removed.

4. Store the bulbs in a cool, dark, and dry place. Keep them there until it is time to repot them! For Spring blooming flowers, daffodils and tulips, plant the bulb in September or October. For summer blooming bulbs, ranunculus and dahlias, plant in spring after the danger of frost has passed. 

5. Different flowers will have different bulbs. They come in all shapes and sizes! Be sure to keep them separate and labeled when storing, unless you want to be surprised!

Written by Madison Suoja, Education and Outreach Specialist

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How to Care For Your Maidenhair Fern in Davis Climate

Maidenhair ferns are notoriously temperamental. They are not native to Yolo County and therefore need a lot of love and attention to stay alive. With the proper knowledge and dedication, you can keep a maidenhair fern of your own and trust yourself to keep it alive! We love these ferns at the Co-op and often have them available in our floral department. Here are some tips to get you started:

Sunlight:

Find a window in your house that faces East or West. Maidenhairs like the sun, but not too much sun. Bright evening or morning sun is enough. If you only have a window facing North or South, make sure it only gets partial sun by putting a larger plant in front of it to supply some shade or move it further from the window.

Even the fronds with just brown edges need to be removed.

Pruning:

Make sure that the base is misted!

When the fronds of your fern are starting to brown you should remove them. Some fronds will be completely brown and others will only have brown tips, but you might as well remove them all! Once they start to brown on the edges, there’s no saving them and they will use up resources that the thriving fronds need. Don’t get too sad, if you have been caring for your plant properly there should be many new fronds emerging!

Watering:

Water your maidenhair fern 2-3 times a week. Water from the top of the pot until the base is partially full of water. If your pot doesn’t have a draining hole, water it1-2 times a week until all the soil is wet. It is hard to overwater a Maidenhair in dry Yolo County, but your maidenhair should not be in a pool of water.

Humidity: 

Maidenhair ferns love humidity! In nature, they grow on forest floors or by large trees. Mist your fern every other day at a minimum. Be sure to mist all the fronds and do not neglect the base. Make sure to get any new fronds that come in, they need the extra moisture the most!

All fronds need to be misted. The lighter the frond, the newer it is!

Dark Spots: 

The underside of your leaves will occasionally get some black dots. Don’t Worry! These are spores and they are good. You should congratulate yourself. Your plant is so happy it is trying to make babies.

The new fronds are beautiful when they unroll!

Bugs: 

Maidenhair ferns often get fungus gnats. These little flying bugs are your friends. They keep the soil healthy and as long as you don’t have moldy fruit nearby, they will stay in the pot. 

Touching it: 

Do your best not to touch your plant. The fronds are bouncy and fun, I know. But please avoid playing with your plant, it doesn’t like it as much as you do. On a similar note, they also do not like breezes or strong winds. Do not place your fern by an open window, a fan, or a heater. All of these will lower the humidity and dry out your fern.

Have any questions or tips on keeping your maidenhair happy? Click on the suggestion box below and send us a message!

Written by Madison Suoja, Education and Outreach Specialist

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