The article about bees and how they overwintered in Maine is inspiring some thought about springtime and what bees need at this time of year (“Maine beekeepers assess hives after endless winter,” April 27).

They need food! Food is nectar and pollen from many types of plants that they seek out near their hives – or nests, in the case of native bees, which number about 260 species in Maine – or farther away. Larger bees can forage at astonishing distances from their home turf and find their way home.

Anyone with a yard, garden or arguably a few pots on a patio is an accidental beekeeper. You can’t fence out these fliers!

There are more than 800 licensed beekeepers in Maine; many are hobbyists. Add in all the uncounted and much-neglected native bees, and everyone has the opportunity of seeing bees of many types, all gentle and non-aggressive when foraging.

This creates an opportunity. Anyone can help bees, keystone animals due to their pollination of plants, an essential service to crops and in ecosystems, by planting flowers for them to feed on.

Not everyone has the inclination to keep bees, nor should there be a hive in every yard. There simply is not enough forage for them in many areas throughout the growing season. Beekeepers regularly have to supplement their hives with alternative food to help them survive the winter.

By planting appropriate flowers and not treating yards with chemicals such as insecticides and fungicides, both of which harm bees, and even choosing plants from nurseries that are guaranteed to be free of these dangers – you have to ask – you can support bees that your neighbors keep and all the various natives that call Maine their home. This is a good way to make a difference! Bees and beekeepers both will thank you!

Amy Campbell