An article in the Christian Science Monitor warned us that not only domestic bee populations are at risk but that wild honeybees are also suffering the same dangers as their counterparts. This comes from a report that was presented online by the journal, Nature.
That pollinators are experiencing a downfall comes as no surprise. Another species, the monarch butterfly, is reported to be at its lowest numbers ever recorded in their annual migration. Add to the equation, our increasing reliance on chemical pesticides and weed killers, it makes for a dicey situation when it comes to large scale, and even domestic crop cultivation.
All is not lost however, for we can flip the situation by taking steps to attract bees and other small pollinators to our gardens. The website, Honey Bee Suite, shares 15 ways to attract pollinators to your spaces. These include
• Plant Dutch clover on your lawn and herbs or other native species in your yard. The clover will fix nitrogen to your lawn, reducing the need for fertilizer while herbs (mint especially) and other native species are a sure draw for the tiny insects
• Avoid using excessive mulch; it blocks the ground from soil burrowing species
• Plant more flowers, especially in containers all around your property
• Avoid hybrid varieties where possible; these are bred for beauty and have lost some pollen capability
• Plant larval host plants, i.e. milkweed, which is a staple of the larvae of the monarch butterfly
• Avoid using pesticides
The website, gardening.about.com, has two lists of plants attractive to bees and other insects, both native and exotic. On the native list are such favorites such as Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia) and Purple Coneflower (Echinacea), Sage (Salvia) and Sunflower (Helianthus).
Sources: Christian Science Monitor, Not Just Honeybees: Affliction may be spreading to bumblebees, scientists say, Noelle Swan, February 20, 2014; About.com Gardening, Attracting more bees and pollinators to you garden, Marie Iannotti; Honey Bee Suite, webpage by Rusty Burlew.