June is National Pollinator Month – How you can Help Save the Bees
June is National Pollinator Month and while you may not think every day about bees, hummingbirds, bats and other pollinators, without them there would be no fruits and vegetables. Imagine that! I wanted to share a few simple ideas on how you can help save the bees.
When I was a child I remember my mother telling me stories about the amazing bee. She would read poems about bees and explain how amazing they can even fly, so my fascination started very young. When I was a young mother I had my own garden and would watch the bees travel from plant to plant never dreaming of what was to come.
In 2006, I began to hear about bees dying by the millions and I began to study about colony collapse disorder (CCD). This disturbing phenomenon meant dwindling number of bees, less available food, higher prices, small farms going under, and a general upset of the economy and yet most people were still unaware.
Colony collapse disorder began to occur all across the Unites States, Europe, and China; indeed it became a global problem. China’s situation was so dire that the government began paying millions of workers to pollinate each blossom by dusting each with a tiny brush by hand.
Films such as Vanishing of the Bees, Queen of the Sun, and More than Honey were made to document the global impact and a frenzy of research began to determine what was killing entire hives of bees. On Time magazine’s August 19, 2013 cover featured the bee and CCD with these disturbing words, “A world without bees…the price we’ll pay if we don’t figure out what’s killing the honeybee.”
In Europe there was such an outcry against Monsanto, the suspected perpetrator and bee murderer, that Monsanto products were banned in most countries. Once banned, populations of bees began to recover and rise.
Suddenly saving the bees became a popular mantra and people began to take up this humble creature’s cause, but in the last couple of years the resounding “Save the Bees” has become merely a buzz despite the very real danger humanity faces.
In May of 2017, First Lady Melania Trump took up the bee’s cause by banning all Monsanto products from the White House and there was renewed outrage over the bee’s plight. Love her or hate her she is a parent concerned with the health of her son, Barron, the dangers of genetically modified foods, and the products which are killing the bees.
How you can help save the bees and other pollinators.
1. Plant wildflowers and trees - Every food, fresh water source, and habitat you provide, whether in your backyard, balcony, or kitchen windowsill will help pollinators rebound from the challenges they face. Be sure to use pesticide free and non-GMO plants and seeds in your garden. You can also plant shrubs and trees such as blueberry, blackberry, dogwood, flowering pear, cherry, plum, willow and poplar which provide pollen or nectar early in spring when food sources for the pollinators are scarce. Flowering plants such as trumpet flowers and honeysuckle are an excellent source of food. Check labels and seeds carefully when purchasing and plant a wide variety. Purchase heirloom seeds whenever possible.
2. Hang bee and hummingbird feeders – Bees enjoy the same food that hummingbirds eat and you can make your own feeder water by boiling 4 cups water and adding 1 cup sugar. Do not purchase store bought feed as the red dye isn’t good for bees or birds.
3. Go green - Eliminate pesticide use in your landscape. Instead you can make your own fertilizer by composting and using vinegar or cola as bug repellent on plants. Include plants in your garden or yard that attract beneficial insects for pest control. While there may be some damage to plants that moth and butterfly larvae use to feed on, the benefits to the overall health of your garden will be the reward. If you do use pesticides, use them sparingly and responsibly.
4. Provide clean water for pollinators – Even something as simple as a baking dish or colorful plastic bowl from the dollar store can be used to make a bee watering station. Just place rocks, marbles, glass beads or seashells in the container so the bees and other pollinators can perch on them and pour in water. Remember not to completely submerge the rocks because the surface tension can cause the bees to drown.
5. Don’t remove dead trunks - Dead tree trunks, or “snags”, in your landscape provide houses for wood-nesting bees and beetles. Eventually you may also notice mushroom growth which can benefit other wildlife.
6. Get involved – You can support land conservation and improve “food deserts” by getting involved in your community and helping maintain green spaces and community gardens and green spaces which help ensure that pollinators have “friendly” habitat.
7. Educate other people – Teaching other people how you can help save the bees is easy and fun. It might be as simple as going to your child’s school and giving a talk or going to the library to read to kids about the importance of the bees. You can also sponsor a how you can help save the bees movie night and show documentaries.
These are very simple measures you can take to participate year round and especially in June to celebrate our pollinators during National Pollinator Month. What you don’t want is to do nothing and one day have your grandchildren ask the question, “Grandma, what is a bee?”