Disclaimer: This is a sponsored blogger campaign on behalf of Mamavation. All opinions are my own and were not influenced in anyway. #BeeBold
There is a continued and unsustainable loss of bees and other pollinators. This is going to have an unimaginable effect on our environment but more importantly our food system. This is why it is time to step up and save the bees! They are our #1 pollinator. Bees pollinate 1/3 of all our crops and are the driving force behind every third bite of food that we eat! In fact, bees are so important that Friends Of The Earth launched a new interactive “bee map” to make it fun and easy for people to learn more about bees. Here is how you can help with the #BeeBold campaign!
Fruit is the second food babies eat – and without bees, we would have no fruit. #BeeBold and join Friends Of The Earth, Mamavation, myself and many others in the fight to save the bees. There is so much you can do from installing a mason bee house to creating a sanctuary right in your own backyard. Make sure the plants you choose for your gardening sanctuary were not pretreated with pesticides. Neonics are systemic pesticides are toxic to bees. Worse they are a common pesticide used in both home and agriculture applications. The current widespread and continued use of bee-toxic pesticides is simply unacceptable. It is time to take a stand, buy only organic products, encourage local businesses to stop selling products with neonics in them and reach out to the Obama administration to encourage them immediately ban all pesticides that are linked to global bee decline. This is essential to the nation’s food supply, environment and economy!
Bees Are Important
Did you know before watching the video above that up to 80% of our flowering plants were pollinated by bees? Now think about a world with 80% less flowers – 80% less fruit, because fruit trees flower before they ever produce fruit and vegetables flower too! Imagine using a paintbrush or Q-tip to hand pollinate each and every flower on just one plant. Bees are powerhouse workers who tirelessly collect nectar from each and every flower in the garden. They don’t know that the pollen from those plants fall onto their bodies, but it does and as they fly from flower to flower they transfer that pollen. This is how pollination occurs. This is why bees are so important, so do your part to #BeeBold and help save the bees!
Bees really are important, in fact as far as I am concerned they are the most important insects on the planet and certainly the most important pollinator we have. Without bees we don’t have natural honey – and while yes, you can make honey yourself, it is not as nutritious or as delicious as the honey bees make. The sad part is bees are dying off at an alarming rate. Here are some facts:
- Beekeepers are losing an average of 30% of their hives in recent years. Some beekeepers are giving up completely because the loss if too high to be sustainable.
- Farmers are unable to meet their pollination needs for crops such as almonds and berries because of bee decline.
- Bees and other pollinators are essential for two-thirds of food crops such as almonds, squash, cucumbers, apples, oranges, blueberries and peaches.
- One out of every three bites of food we eat was pollinated by honeybees.
- Neonics can last in soil, water and the environment for years.
- Neonics kills bees outright.
- Neonics also harm butterflies, dragonflies, lacewings, ladybugs, birds, earthworms, mammals and aquatic insects. They are also harmful to soil microbes.
Here Is How To #BeeBold
Let the U.S. EPA know that they need to step up and protect the environment. There is an urgent need for this to happen right now in both the USA and Canada. Europe and Ontario, Canada have already made laws restricting the use of these deadly neonics. many retailers in the U.S. have taken bee-harming pesticides off their shelves – but we need every retailer to follow suit. Some of these retailers that have started making changes are BJ’s Wholesale Club, Home Depot, Lowe’s, Whole Foods and in the UK – Homebase, B&Q and Wickes. Be aware however that some of these companies are simply requiring products that contain neonics to be labeled. We need to go one step further and stop the sale and use of these products. More than 4 million Americans have signed petitions calling on the Obama administration to put forth protections on bees and other pollinators.
In May 2015 released its National Pollinator Health Strategy. This failed to address the impact of pesticides including neonicotinoid insecticides. In June 2014, a presidential memorandum was issued by President Obama. He directed federal agencies to establish a Pollinator Health Task Force. Their job was to develop a strategy to protect polliators. The EPA was told to assess the effects of pesticides, including neonicotinoids, on bees and other pollinators. They were given 180 days to accomplish this. However the buck does not stop here – and we all need to do our part to save the bees.
Begin by creating a bee sanctuary in your own backyard. Follow these 5 simple steps! In the event that you don’t have a yard, simply plant a few flowers in a container or even a window box. Every little bit helps. Be sure to choose native plants and always garden organically – if not for you, do it for the bees!
Step 1: Provide Habitat
Food and shelter are necessary in order to keep bees – or any other pollinator or beneficial insect alive. Bees look for places that provide food and shelter to set up their nests. Native plants that are organically grown are their preference. Gardeners who grow plants from seed should choose untreated seed. A study by Friends Of The Earth and Pesticide Research Institute found that 36 pf the 71 garden plants currently being sold that were bee friendly contained neonic pesticides. That’s a whopping 51% of bee friendly plants. Worse these plants had no warnings on them to let gardeners know they were killing bees instead of planting safe pollinator friendly plants.
One way to avoid this is to grow native plants – and look for local groups that sell ones they grew themselves. Or find a local nursery that sells organic plants. Native plants are not hard to grow. In fact, when you choose native plants for your garden they thrive so much better than non-native plants. This is because they are already adapted to your area. They handle the weather changes and native pests so much better. This is because plants adapt to the environment they are grown in over the years. When these plants produce seed it is already adapted to the area the plant was grown in.
Be sure to mix herbaceous perennials with woody plants such as trees or shrubs. It is ok to grow some annual plants for color, but grow mostly native perennial plants – which are those that come back on their own year after year – as well as native trees and shrubs. Many native plants provide year-round interest or even bloom earlier or later in the season than non-native plants.
Plant large patches of flowers in your garden. This makes it easier for the bees to find just what the plants they are looking for instead of wasting time flying long distances.
Bees need access to soil as well – so either don’t mulch some areas of your garden or set containers of sandy garden soil around the garden for the bees. Be aware ground nesting bees may take up residence in areas that are not heavily mulched.
Step 2: Provide Water
Water is necessary – and if you can use rainwater or filtered chemical-free water I encourage you to do so. Bees will drink out of a birdbath if they do not have a source of water – and they most likely will drown. The water in a birdbath is just too deep. You can remedy this however – or you can make a separate bee bath!
Here are 4 simple steps to making a bee bath!
A. Select a shallow container. This could be a birdbath, a pan, a dish or a shallow bucket. Think outside the box here. As long as it is shallow and holds water, it will work. Be sure to choose something that has not had chemicals or other harmful substances in it.
B. Fill the container with rocks, pebbles or wine corks. The goal here is to give the bees a place to perch and drink from.
C. Add fresh water once or twice a day. Keep the water level below the rocks so the landing zone is bee-safe. On a hot day, one hive of bees can drink over a quart of water.
D. Place this container on the ground in your garden or near your bee house if you have one. You can create more than one bee bath – and if you have a large property like I do, this is a good idea.
Step 3: Provide A Nest
You can buy a bee nest such as bee’n’bee nest I have – or you can make one if you are crafty. The important part is to make sure you locate the bee nest in an area protected from the wind. Be sure to position is against a flat surface such as a piece of privacy fence.
Step 4: Go Chemical-Free
It is best to not use any type of pesticide – even organic ones – on your garden, lawn or landscape. The best way to control pests is to provide habitat to attract beneficial insects and let nature take care of itself.
However, if you must using something, opt for natural remedies. Be aware of what ingredients are harmful because even organic, natural ingredients can be harmful. Options for natural remedies include insecticidal soaps, oil and of course there are many other eco-friendly pest control options out there. Bees do rest at night and this would be the best time to use these natural remedies if you must.
Step 5: Embrace Weeds, Rethink Lawn
Lawns are overrated. They take a lot of work to keep looking nice – and for some an array of chemicals. Forget about having the perfect lawn. Dandelions, clovers and other weeds are necessary to pollinators and beneficial insects. In fact, some weeds like dandelions are edible – and good for you. Replace your lawn, save yourself some mowing, opt for flowering plants instead! Make the decision right now to shift to Integrated Pest Management and organic farming or gardening. Support local organic farmers. A recent Oxford University meta study proved that organic farming supports 50% more pollinator species than conventional, chemical-intensive agriculture.
I hope that each and every one of you who reads this post will choose to make a difference and save the bees! #BeeBold my friends! Here are a few more steps you can take to help save the bees:
- Ask local garden retailers to stop selling neonicotinoids and pants pre-treated with pesticides. Let them know you will not be buying their plants until they do. Encourage your local gardening friends to follow your lead. Visit beeaction.org for a sample letter to bring to your local retailer.
- Call President Obama and urge him to direct his administration to protect bees from toxic pesticides. That phone number is 202-456-1111
- Contact your Members of Congress and encourge them to support the Saving America’s Pollinators Act. That phone number is 202-224-3121.
- Friends of the Earth is encouraging everyone to host a brunch for bees during the month of August to ramp up pressure on Ace and True Value to urge them to stop selling bee-killing pesticides. Hosting a brunch is easy and anyone can do this even if you live in an apartment. All you need to do is snap two pictures of you and your friends or family around your brunch table. Be sure to take one picture showing everything on your table that was pollinated by bees and one with only items that were not pollinated by bees. Click here to sign up to host a brunch.