{Food and Gardening} Beeing Nice to Pollinators

What is an organic garden without the sound of bees buzzing around?   It is not only too quiet, but many fruits and vegetables depend on bees to produce fruit.  No bees, no pollination.   There is some troubling research by the US Department of Agriculture.   In 2009, the USDA data showed a 29 percent drop in beehives, following a 36 percent decline in 2008, and a 32 percent fall in 2007.   Colony collapse disorder stems from a variety of practices, including the use of pesticides.  However, there are things the home gardener can do to protect pollinators.

3 Simple Steps to Protecting Pollinators

•  Learn to recognize good pollinator habitat and then enhance or restore it.

The goal for a pollinator-friendly garden is a bee-attracting blend of perennial flowers chosen so that bees have a steady source of pollen and nectar throughout the entire season.  Choose plants that bloom in succession, one after the other.  A few common flowers, both annual and perennial, are Cosmos, Dusty Miller, lavender, Purple Coneflower, Borage,  Honeysuckle, and Pot Marigolds.  Find a more complete list here and here.

•  Adapt existing gardening practices to protect pollinators.

Not all bees build hives like the honeybee.  There are many solitary native bees, such as mason bees and squash bees, who burrow into the soil to nest.  Simply modifying tillage and cultivation practices with this in mind will help these particular pollinators.  Ecoetsy Team members, Andrew and Melissa  make a great mason bee house, which gives these important pollinators a safe home.

•  Be careful about pesticides, especially neonicotinoids.

While this tip would seem to go without saying, if you are interested in providing a safe haven for bees, make sure to ask how plants were raised before bringing them home from the nursery.  Neonicotinoids attack insects through their central nervous system and depending on how these chemicals were applied, residue can be found as long as 3 years later.  Yikes!

Experts say that one out of every four bites of food have a bee connection.   Pollinators are essential to our food source, and it is important that we tailor our gardening practices to protect them.   With responsible gardening practices, we can enjoy the sound of bees buzzing in our gardens once again.

Happy gardening!  Mary Ellen



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  1. Very nice post Mary Ellen. We keep tow bee hives in our garden and have started to notice what kinds of flowers they prefer. I’m always surprised that they will go for some seemingly bland looking flower over something us humans will deem ‘beautiful’. They absolutely love love love the raspberry flowers and of course our raspberry crop has bee amazing since we started keeping our bees. A nice fall flower they seem to enjoy is fall sedum – they just crawl all over it for weeks.

  2. Great post Mary. Wonderful info.