Like butterflies and fireflies, bee populations have been hard-hit by habitat loss. Honeybees are important pollinators for a wide range of plants, and while bee colonies fared a little better over the last year than expected, data show declines of up to 90% in some areas over a 15-year period.
That’s why the American Bee Project is looking for property owners who are willing to lend out their land to commercial beekeepers—and helping them get compensated for it.
Here are a few things you can do to boost bee conservation efforts.
Apply for a beekeeping tax credit
There isn’t technically a credit simply for keeping bees, but if you work with the American Bee Project to place a commercial apiary on your property, you may be eligible for agricultural tax classification and associated credits. The project has a state-by-state guide to beekeeping regulations and tax qualifications, so find your state to see if you qualify, and reach out to the project for more info on how to get set up.
Check your local backyard beekeeping laws
Even if your property doesn’t qualify for the tax credit, you may still be able to maintain your own apiary. You’ll need to check your city’s rules and regulations for beekeeping first, as it’s unlikely you can just buy a hive and plop it in your yard. In Salt Lake City, for example, you have to apply for a permit and meet specific space and construction requirements.
Since there is no single government department that handles citizen beekeeping, the easiest way to track down your local laws is to google some variation of “beekeeping in [your city]”—this search may also bring up local beekeeping organizations you can reach out to for more resources.
Build a bee garden or bath
If you don’t want to keep bees yourself, there are a lot of other things you can do to support bee conservation. The Honeybee Conservancy has a list of actions for various levels of commitment. These range from planting bee-friendly trees and gardens to setting up bee baths (similar to birdbaths) to sponsoring a hive at a school or community garden.
And, of course, there are easy actions, like signing petitions against pesticides, that you can take right now from the comfort of your couch. The Xerces Society is an excellent resource for all things conservation.