Tag Archive | help

7 Ways to Help Honey Bees

by Eve Fox

The bad news is that our honey bees are dying. U.S. bee keepers lost a shocking 31% of their hives this winter, as they have for the past seven years in a row. Although the exact causes of Colony Collapse Disorder are not 100% certain, what is crystal clear is that we’re speeding towards the disastrous point at which we will not have enough bees to pollinate our crops.

The good news is that there are a number of easy (even enjoyable) ways YOU can help honey bees to survive and, hopefully, to thrive. And none of them involve rushing out to buy protective mesh clothing and a smoke can!

Here are seven simple ways to help our favorite pollinators out.

1. Add your name to the petition urging the EPA and USDA to ban neonicotinoids, a widely used class of agricultural pesticides that is highly toxic to bees and believed to play a crucial role in colony collapse disorder. The EU has just enacted a ban on neonicotinoids and we must follow Europe’s lead as there is literally no time to waste.

2. Let dandelions and clover grow in your yard. Dandelions and clover are two of the bees’ favorite foods – they provide tons of nourishment and pollen for our pollinators to make honey and to feed their young.  And these flowers could not be any easier to grow – all you have to do is not do anything.

3. Stop using commercial pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers – these chemicals are harmful to the bees. And they’re also harmful to you, your family, and our soil and water supply, too. Definitely not worth it!

4. Eat more honey and buy it from a local bee keeper. This is a pretty sweet way to help the bees (sorry, I can never resist a good pun.) Unlike big honey companies, local bee keepers tend to be much more concerned about the health of their bees than they are about their profits. And their products do not have to travel far to reach your kitchen, either. You can almost always find local honey at your farmers’ market and it may also be available at your local health food or grocery store. It may cost a little more than the commercial options, but it’s well worth it.

5. Plant bee-friendly flowers. This not only helps the honey bees, it will also make your yard more beautiful and can also provide you with a bunch of great culinary herbs.In addition to the dandelions and clover I mentioned above, bees love many other flowers, including: bee balm, borage, asters, lavender, thyme, mint, rosemary, honey suckle, poppies, sunflowers, marigolds, salvia, butterfly bush, clematis, echinacea,  blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, fennel, yellow hyssop, milkweed, goldenrod, and many more.

You can also just buy one of those pre-mixed packets of wildflowers with good results. And, if you’re ever in doubt, choose native plants as they will be best suited to the climate you live in and can help support the bees throughout the season.6. Buy organic. Organic food and fibers like cotton and hemp are produced without the use of commercial pesticides, fertilizers and herbicides, making them inherently more bee-friendly than conventionally grown products.
7. Share this post with your friends, family, neighbors and co-workers to help build more “buzz” for honey bees.


5 Ways to Help a Cat Grieve the Loss of a Feline Friend

It’s important to let cats work through their grief, just as humans do. Here’s how you can help.
by JaneA Kelley
Back in the dark ages of animal care, few people, including veterinarians, believed that cats grieve for deceased friends. But times have changed. In 1996, the ASPCA conducted the Companion Animal Mourning Project, a study to find out whether pets showed signs of grief. It turns out that pets do: 46 percent of cats ate less after the death of a feline companion, 70 percent meowed a lot more or a lot less than normal, more than half became more affectionate and “clingy” with their people, and many slept more or slept in different places than they previously had. Not only that, but 65 percent of the cats in the study showed four or more behavior changes after the death of a fellow pet.
I’ve seen feline grief up close and personal, too. When I first met my cat, Thomas, he was in the animal shelter’s isolation unit, fighting for his life as a respiratory infection raged through his tiny body. He’d been taken to the shelter with his sisters after his previous caretaker had gone to a long-term care facility, and I’d never seen such a mournful sight as this poor, sick cat whose eyes reflected the broken heart that was destroying his will to live. It took a lot of intensive vet care to get Thomas back to health, and it took a lot of intensive emotional care to bring him truly back to life.

Here are some of the things I did to help Thomas in those early days — and also things I did to help the rest of my cats in the wake of this year’s double cat-loss whammy.

1. Keep to your routine as much as you can

Cats are creatures of habit, and they tend to find any change disturbing. The loss of a beloved friend is a huge change. You can ease the stress of these turbulent times by doing things like keeping to their regular feeding schedules and being consistent with the times you’re at home and out of the house as much as you can.

2. Honor your cat’s way of showing her grief

If your cat is grieving, you almost certainly are, too. In the throes of your feelings, it might be hard to respond appropriately to a grieving cat’s behavior. If your cat becomes more affectionate and clingy and you get frustrated by her constant demands for attention, try to understand that it’s her way of grieving. Likewise, if she’s not her usual cuddly self, don’t take it as a lack of caring.

3. Talk to her

A grieving cat might find the sound of your voice soothing. Even if you don’t believe she understands the words your voice is saying, the words your heart is saying needs no interspecies translation. After Dahlia died, I took the time to hold Thomas on my lap at least once a day and tell him, “I know, sweetheart. I know you miss your Dahlia. I feel so sad, and I know you do, too. I love you so much, and we’ll get through this together.” You might find talking to your cat comforting, too; after all, she’ll listen without judgment.

4. Keep track of your cat’s intake and output

A grieving cat might show a greatly reduced appetite or even stop eating. If a cat doesn’t eat for a few days, she risks developing a potentially fatal condition called hepatic lipidosis. Even if she doesn’t get sick from that condition, she becomes more vulnerable to respiratory viruses and other illnesses if she isn’t getting appropriate nutrition. If your cat stops eating and drinking, consult your veterinarian to see what you can do to stimulate her appetite.

5. Don’t get another cat right away

Your cat — and you — need to take the time to work through your grief before you add another cat to your household. A new cat is stressful for the resident cat even under the best of circumstances, and getting a cat “on the rebound,” so to speak, is bound to create difficulties in your feline family.

What have you done to help your cat through the loss of a beloved animal or human friend? Please share in the comments.