What is an organic garden without the sound of bees buzzing around? Â It is not only too quiet, but many fruits and vegetables depend on bees to produce fruit. Â No bees, no pollination. Â There is some troubling research by the US Department of Agriculture. Â 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. Â Colony collapse disorder stems from a variety of practices, including the use of pesticides. Â However, there are things the home gardener can do to protect pollinators.
3 Simple Steps to Protecting Pollinators
â€¢ Â 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. Â Choose plants that bloom in succession, one after the other. Â A few common flowers, both annual and perennial, are Cosmos, Dusty Miller, lavender, Purple Coneflower, Borage, Â Honeysuckle, and Pot Marigolds. Â Find a more complete list hereÂ and here.
â€¢ Â Adapt existing gardening practices to protect pollinators.
Not all bees build hives like the honeybee. Â There are many solitary native bees, such as mason bees and squash bees, who burrow into the soil to nest. Â Simply modifying tillage and cultivation practices with this in mind will help these particular pollinators. Â Ecoetsy Team members, Andrew and Melissa Â make a great mason bee house, which gives these important pollinators a safe home.
â€¢ Â 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. Â 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. Â Yikes!
Experts say that one out of every four bites of food have a bee connection. Â Pollinators are essential to our food source, and it is important that we tailor our gardening practices to protect them. Â With responsible gardening practices, we can enjoy the sound of bees buzzing in our gardens once again.
Happy gardening! Â Mary Ellen