Either way, you can still do SO much to help honey bees right now. Here are three ways you can help the honey bees where you live:
1) Don't use sprays (anything with -cides at the end of the word) that can harm bees. If you do use sprays on your property, search online to see if they are deemed safe for honey bees by the bee experts (pesticide manufacturers may not always be the best advocates). While some sprays won't kill bees outright (and are therefore deemed "safe"), trace amounts of those chemicals are fed to baby bees through the pollen and nectar the bees take from those plants. The effects of low-level long term exposure are not listed on the products' labels and may be quite harmful to bees.
2) Buy local honey. Did you know that many store brands of honey aren't all honey? Honey packagers are buying "honey" from other countries instead of from U.S. beekeepers because they're able to buy it at a much lower cost. How do these other countries sell their honey for so much less? Because it's not 100% honey- up to 40% can be corn or rice syrup, both of which are super cheap fillers (and ingredient labels do not have to reflect this!). And! Some of this imported honey contains traces of heavy metals and illegal antibiotics. Read more about this scary occurrence here. Meeting the actual beekeeper at your local farmer's market and purchasing their honey ensures you are getting what you want- honey.
When local bee keepers feel the demand for their honey, it will encourage them to start more hives, leading to more honey bees raised on a smaller-scale, lower-stress (on the bees) basis. With the recent losses in honey bees, we need more beekeepers willing to keep more bees.
3) Plant for your neighborhood honey bees. Here is an excellent list of familiar plants you can add to your garden and flower beds to give bees a wonderful variety of plants to take nectar and pollen from. Or, do a search for your specific growing zone to see what the bees in your part of the country (or world) would benefit from.
4) Don't sweat the dandelions and clover in your lawn. I have to admit, when we bought our very first house years ago in a development, I hated dandelions with a passion. Our lawn looked weedy and messy between our neighbors' heavily treated (and dandelion-free) lawns, so we jumped on the weed and feed bandwagon and did our best to rid our lawn of those pesky
Then we moved to the country and treating our much bigger lawn with weed and feed was going to be time consuming, expensive and we really didn't want that stuff near our gardens and fruit bushes (this should have been a clue that we shouldn't have been using them in first place). Over time (and it didn't take long) I started to really appreciate and enjoy our yellow-speckled lawn each spring. They're so pretty when I'm hungry for color after a long winter and don't even last that long into summer. Clover gets a bad rap, too, but it adds a beautiful deep green to our lawn and it, too, is a feast for honey bees.
5) Maybe most importantly, learn about honey bees (and all pollinators) and the amazing creatures they are. This has been my most favorite part of starting this beekeeping journey- appreciating the bees themselves and all they do. This has increased my respect for them tremendously and their ability to do just fine on their own. I'd rather they be the "keeper" in our relationship and try my hardest to let them show me instead me inflicting my bee "book smarts" (is there such a thing?) on them. There are many books, websites and even DVDs (like NOVA: Bees - Tales From the Hive) available to get you started.
The honey bees will thank you by pollinating your flowers, fruit trees and vegetables and will make lovely honey you can then buy from local beekeepers and enjoy.