This week’s blog is going to discuss our favorite pollinators –BEES!
Both wild and domestic perform about 80% of pollination worldwide. A single bee colony can pollinate over 300 million flowers each day. Most grains are pollinated by the wind, but the fruits, nuts, and vegetables that we consume are pollinated by the bees. Did you know that 1 in 3 bites of everything you eat is due to the honeybees hard at work?
We have all heard of the slogan “SAVE THE BEES” and you can even sign up on Cheerios website to receive free wildflower seeds to help #BRINGBACKTHEBEES. But have you ever wondered what’s happening to our bees? Our bees are dying due to a variety of factors: pesticides, drought, habitat destruction, nutrition deficit, air pollution and more.
Worker bees (females) live approximately 6 weeks in the summer and several months in the winter. Colonies produce new females continuously through the spring and summer, during the cooler months reproduction slows down resulting in a 5-10% decrease of bees. What this means to us, food lovers are that there are not enough bees to keep up with the pollination that is needed for our fruits, vegetables, etc.
What can you do to help save the bees?
- Avoid harmful pesticides: Synthetic pesticides, fertilizers, and herbicides are harmful to bees. Using these pesticides in your garden can not only keep bees away, but also endanger their lives. If you must treat your garden, opt for organic pesticide options and spray at night when pollinators are least active. Or use beneficial insects such as praying mantises and ladybugs in your garden. Avoid chemicals belonging to the neonicotinoid family at all costs, as they are especially harmful to bees.
- Preserve wild habitat: One of the largest threats to bees is the lack of habitat due to urban sprawl. If you notice a lack of green space in your neighborhood, create a habitat corridor with nectar-rich plants such as wildflowers. You don’t need a ton of space to help save the bees- gardens can be established in small spaces like balconies or street corners, and flowers can be planted along roadways and other public areas. You can also get involved with your local government to advocate sensible limits to development where you live
- Plant a bee-friendly garden: Flowers help feed bees and other valuable pollinators. Not only will you be helping save the bees by planting bee-friendly plants, but you’ll helping your garden as well.
- Keep your trees: Bees aren’t only just interested in perennials! In fact, did you know that bees get most of their nectar from trees? When a tree blooms, it provides bees with hundreds if not thousands of blossoms to feed from. Trees are not only a great food source for bees, but they are also essential to a bees habitat. Tree leaves and resin provide nesting material for bees, while their natural wood cavities make excellent shelters. With deforestation and development on the rise, you can help bolster bee habitats by caring for trees and joining tree-planting parties in your area.
By restoring bee populations and healthier bees, ecological agriculture improves pollination, which in turn improves crop yields. Ecological farming takes advantage of the natural ecosystem services, water filtration, pollination, oxygen production, and disease and pest control.