Hello fellow readers,
They say one out of every three bites of food depends on a pollinator. According to the Pollinator Partnership, the largest non-profit organization in the world dedicated to the protection of pollinators, the U.S. has lost over 50 percent of its managed honeybee colonies in the past 10 years.
It’s gotten national attention since the President declared an Executive Strategy to ‘Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators.’ His memorandum on the subject sates, ‘there has been a significant loss of pollinators, including honey bees, native bees, birds, bats, and butterflies, from the environment. The problem is serious and requires immediate attention.’ There’s a whopping 14 federal agencies on the task-force with an objective to identify and hopefully remedy ‘different stressors leading to species declines and colony collapse disorder, including exposure to pesticides, poor nutrition, parasites and other pests, toxins, loss of habitat and reduced natural forage, pathogens, and unsustainable management practices.’ Phew!
It’s BIG and critically important that each of us do our part. Plant a pollinator-friendly garden using native or non-invasive annuals, perennials and shrubs with a sequence of bloom so nectar and pollen are available throughout the growing season. Also include plants like dill, fennel and milkweed that butterfly larvae feed on. Its important to provide a water source such as a pond, fountain or bird bath too.
Lay off the chemicals, even organic ones, as they also can be toxic to bees and other beneficial organisms. All things considered though, an organic approach is safer when applied properly during times when pollinators are not active; in early morning or late evening.
Add special feeders to help attract hummingbirds and butterflies and provide shelter by letting a hedgerow or part of your lawn grow wild. Allow a dead tree to stay put to create nooks for butterflies and solitary bees.
One of the offshoots of the President’s initiative is the National Pollinator Garden Network (NPGN); a collaboration of national, regional, and local gardening clubs to help restore pollinator populations.
While its good news our government is on task to help our pollinators, it seems there’s an elephant in the room – Imidacloprid, the most widely used insecticide in the world. According to Wikipedia, research suggests that Imidacloprid’s widespread agricultural use may be contributing to honey bee colony collapse disorder and the research that declared the chemical to be safe to our environment, animals and humans may be flawed or even deceptive. Other countries have restricted its use. Sadly it seems we choose to keep our head in the sand. How can it Bee?
Garden Dilemmas? firstname.lastname@example.org
How you can avoid the deadly chemical: Although Imidacloprid it is now off patent, the primary manufacturer of this chemical is Bayer and it is sold under many names for many uses. Look on product labels for neonicotinoids or Imidacloprid and if found, stay clear. It is widely used for pest control in agriculture, injected into foundations to prevent termite damage, in pest controls for gardens and lawns, as a protection of trees from boring insects, as a preservative on some types of lumber products and even a topical treatment on pets to control fleas.