Variety becomes more pressing as the seasons change. In California the hardest season for bees is fall and in combination with arid climate, food can be scarcer than ever. Water can also become an issue, as bees especially in intensifying heat need a constant source of water to cool off and help with ingestion. Beyond food and water the materials native bees need to build their homes can be endangered as well.
Mason bees for instance use mud to build their nests and this mud is reliant upon the amount of rain California sees in spring. To help these bees Sager explains that people can buy or create native bee hotels, tubes of wood or paper, and create a healthy environment for bees.
“All these bees are different sizes and they’re active during different seasons,” Sager says. “So it might not be active all of the time. So you really have to be aware of what is in my yard? What am I encouraging to be here?”
Accommodating and providing a space for bees is necessary especially with habitat loss and the spread of viruses. According to Sager, lawns and monoculture fields can create vast food deserts for bees. The absence of variety means a lack of constant food supply and subsequently a loss of bees. California’s central valley and its almond orchards are a prime example of this, with the plants only blooming once a year.
“So we actually have to truck in about two thirds of the honeybee colonies in the entire United States to pollinate California’s almond crop, because bees do not naturally want to live there anymore,” Sager says. “Because there’s no food for 11 months out of the year when the almonds aren’t in bloom, they’d starve in doing that. Now we’re also creating a great opportunity to spread disease nationwide very quickly because a lot of the bee population is here and then immediately redistributed.”