I, for one, and many of my gardening friends have noted the declining bee population. And those that do visit our yards are the bumble bees, rather than honey bees.
With all the talk of GMOs, pesticides and large scale farming, one has to ask the question “How important are bees to our Food Supply and to nature in general?”
Are bees important to us? The answer is a resounding YES! According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, bees pollinate approximately 80% of our flowering crops. Large beekeeper image in this collage courtesy of http://www.telegraph.co.uk/
These crops account for about 1/3 of the world’s food supply. If we were to lose them, some of our favorite edibles would no longer be available to us.
In addition, alfalfa is used for feed for cattle, so this could also affect the beef and dairy industries if alfalfa pollination becomes affected.
How real is the problem of a declining bee population?
There is a lot of talk about a declining bee population but how real is this problem? During the last six years, the die off of bees, who are primarily responsible for pollination, has become quite dramatic. This phenomenon is known as colony collapse disorder. This is a big problem for us, because of these facts:
- Bees are vital to our food chain
- Bee populations are declining at an alarming rate
- This decline could also affect the beef and dairy industry
Think about this for a minute: Would you want to live without orange juice, jam or honey? Can you imagine the cost of food in future if the decline of the bee population continues as it has been lately?
How can we help with the declining bee population?
All is not lost! There are many things that we can do to encourage bees in our yards.
What can you do about the decline of bees? Here are a few ideas:
- Go retro – Become a backyard beekeeper
- Get back to nature – grow flowering fruits and vegetables as well as a wide variety of flowers to give existing bees (and other insects) something to pollinate
- Give the bees a voice – write to your congressmen and senators to support funding of honeybee research
- Plant flowers that bloom in sequence so that bees have something to pollinate all through the growing season
- Keep a herb garden growing all the time outdoors. Bees love herbs too!
- Plant flowers that are white, blue and purple. The bees prefer them over pink and red flowers.
- Grow native plants. These plants attract native bees that are found in your area.
- Don’t use pesticides and chemical weed killers. There are many natural weed killers available.
Any effort that you can make, whether it is large or small will help raise the awareness of the importance of protecting the bee population.
If the population of bees decline, images like this will be few and far between.
Flowers that Attract Bees
One of the biggest ways that you can help is to plant flowers that bees love!
As far planting to attract bees, the list is long. Annuals, perennials and some vegetables all attract bees. Here are a few that always seem to do the trick for me:
- Coneflowers (Echinacea) – There are many colors other than the traditional purple coneflower.
- Black Eye Susan
- Bee Balm
- Butterfly Bush
- Magnolia trees
- and many, many more!
Do what you can so that images like the next two are a common site in your yard!
This great shot of a cone flower show just how effective it is in attracting insect. This time it was a butterfly and bee at the same time! Shared from Organized Clutter.
Look at the size of this monster compared to Gardening Cook, Jennie Ayala’s nail. That is a big bumble!
Have you thought about what you can do to help the declining bee population? I’d love to hear your comments below.