We can thank the bees for every third bite we eat. Let's return the favor by marking National Pollinator Week. By bringing color and life into our yards and gardens, we can do something for the bees and other pollinators who provide us with food and beauty. Below are just some of the simple, easy, and enjoyable things we can do to ensure the survival of these wonderful creatures:
1) Add colorful plants to our yard and garden; native plants are one of the best options. Choose plants that bloom at different times to ensure enough food over the course of the seasons for the pollinators. Native asters, goldenrod, and ironweed are favored nectar plants in the fall, a season that often gets neglected. Bees and butterflies need nectar at that time of the year too.
2) Plant in masses or groups so that pollinators don't have to expend too much energy going from one plant to another. It also provides them cover.
3) Leave some debris in yards/gardens if possible (It can be tough in our small yards.) Maybe give them a corner of the yard where you leave some tree branches, leaves, and other debris for them to nest and overwinter (some bees overwinter in debris or in the soil). Let there be an untidy area in the yard — perhaps screened by a shrub, and use those areas under shrubs (just don't put organic matter up against the trunks). Your soil and plants will benefit too; earthworms will turn the debris into improved soil.
4) Buy organic food when possible. It's better for the animals and the humans that share the farming space.
5) The single most important thing we can do, as well as the easiest, is simply not to use pesticides. Pesticides of any kind will kill bees. Scientists are linking Colony Collapse Disorder to the profligate use of pesticides in our society. A certain class of pesticide is receiving a lot of scrutiny, neonicotinoids, which are found in many lawn/garden products. These pesticides kill bees by impeding their ability to navigate, learn, forage, and other behaviors and weakens their immune system. They also kill other beneficial organisms that contribute to a healthy ecosystem (earthworms, fireflies, butterflies).
Avoiding pesticides in our yards and gardens is a win-win situation for everyone. Not only will we, our families, and our neighbors benefit from decreased pesticide use, we will be providing all kinds of wildlife a healthy environment. Children especially will benefit as they are particularly susceptible to pesticides, and they naturally love to see life in the yard and garden.
For more information, other ways to act, or to pledge your yard, go to BeyondPesticides.org. Have a beautiful Pollinator Week!