Everybody is talking about bees these days, why so?
Bees are pollinators, without them we would have a limited supply of food. The way that we're treating the earth is having a negative effect on their survival.
A pollinator is an animal that brings pollen from one flower to another, aiding in reproduction and causing the development of a seed or fruit.
Are bees the only pollinators?
No! Any animal that brings pollen from one flower to another is a pollinator, this group includes butterflies, bats, birds, beetles, and moths. Plants can also be pollinated by the wind. Flowers are visually and structurally different depending on the plant and its method of pollination. Bee pollinated flowers are brightly colored, have a large shallow landing area, and a fragrant scent.
So how are we hurting bees?
Wild bees are experiencing population declines for a number of reasons. As natural spaces become industrialized and landscapes are carefully maintained, bees experience habitat loss. Climate change is causing colder temperatures during the winter months and hibernating bees aren't able to survive the weather through to the spring. The use of neonictonoid pesticides on crops and garden plants causes harmful neurological damage and death in bees and other insects.
What can I do to help the bees?
If you're planting flowers in your garden, be sure to get native or non-invasive species. In South West Ontario, these include asters, cone flowers, and hyssop, among many others, a list can be found here
Ensure your garden has flowers that bloom at different times throughout the year to give the bees a consistent food source. If you're buying plants from a nursery, ask them if they use pesticides when growing their flowers, specifically neonictonoids.
Let your garden go wild! Nobody likes their house being stepped on or cut down and bees are no different. If you're able to, limit how often you mow your lawn or clear organic debris from the garden, the pollinators will thank you and you might see some flowers you didn't know about coming up between the grass!
Build them a house! If you don't have a large piece of land with abundant dead plant stalks for bees to nest in, you can still build them a house! Instructions for building a bee hotel can be found here. Be sure to have an assortment of flowers nearby to attract them and keep them fed.
Now go forth and fight for the bees!
If you're interested in learning more about bees and other pollinators, Join us at our Pests and Pollinators workshop on July 17th 2018 from 6 to 8 pm at LAMP Community Health Center.