Full disclosure: It will require getting a little dirty.

Honey Bee
Credit: BLOOM image/Getty Images

With bee populations plummeting worldwide, scientists are desperate to end the plight of the little pollinators. After U.S. beekeepers lost 44% of their honey bee colonies during the year last year, the situation is now critical. So critical, that the U.S. recently added a bumble bee species to the endangered species list for the first time ever.

Thanks to new data from the largest ever study of wild bumblebees, we now have a plan. Full disclosure: It will require getting a little dirty. Luckily that's never been a problem for us southerners.

According to research published in the scientific journal Nature, restoring bee's natural habitats (a.k.a. planting wildflowers that bloom in the spring and summer) could be the key to quadrupling the vital insects' survival rate.

The research based on a study conducted in Buckinghamshire, UK, which investigated the effects of habitat quality on survival rates of bumblebee families. Scientists led by Dr. Claire Carvell, senior ecologist at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, used DNA markers to track 1,600 colonies, each with hundreds of family members, for two years.

By sampling the DNA of the female bees, researchers were able to track which families survived into the second year and which died out. What they found is that the bumblebees who lived near a variety of wildflowers were four times as likely to survive as those who didn't.


So this is where we come in. This spring, scientists are urging people to add a patch of wildflowers that bloom in different seasons to their gardens. These 9 plants will help attract the pollinators to your yard. Even just a few square feet can help. The bees—and our planet—will thank you.