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How you can help save honey bee hives

FILE - In this Jan. 28, 2014, file photo, a hive of honey bees is on display. (AP Photo/Andy Duback, File)

WASHINGTON — Honey bee hives are disappearing at an alarming rate, but there is something you can do to help.

The sound of a busy, buzzy beehive can make some of us a little weak in the knees, but a healthy beehive is a good thing. And Virginia’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services says they’re disappearing at a rate of 30 percent each year.

But, in hopes of changing that, the department and the U.S. Department of Agriculture are urging folks across the state to plant pollinator gardens or window boxes, so bees won’t have to fly too far to find food.

You can plug your ZIP code into Pollinator.org’s online tool to find out which plants are best for your neighborhood bees.

In a news release, the department also says site visitors can print out a list of plants to buy at their local garden stores.

Other suggested tips from the department:

  • Be patient — start small. You can expand over time.
  • Plant native plant species.
  • Be showy — plant for blooms in spring, summer and fall.
  • Be diverse — include an assortment of sizes, shapes, colors, heights and growth patterns.
  • Be careful with pesticides — check the label to make sure any pesticides you use do not harm bees.
  • Be more aware — observe your garden and its visitors. Educate others about the importance of pollinators and inspire them to plant for pollinators.

VDACS says you can find more tips at Pollinator.org or go to  its site and search “honey bees.”

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