Bees are the poster child for pollination. They are vastly interesting, lovely and important creatures. Bees pollinate roughly 30% of crops and 90% of wild plants worldwide. Unfortunately, in the past few decades, the bee population has fallen. This is because of many factors including large-scale monoculture agriculture, inappropriate pesticide and herbicide use, the movement of bees around the world and other societal and environmental reasons. Colony Collapse Disorder is what this phenomena of bee decline is being called.
We have the opportunity to begin creating healthy bee populations in our communities by collaborating with the network of beekeepers to only use healthy bees. But to sustain these bee populations we also have the obligation to have enough flowering plants for the bees. Regionally-appropriate gardens are also beneficial to all our pollinator species. For example, we hope to incorporate a non-invasive milkweed in our gardens which is the only food source for the Monarch butterfly.
One important step you can take, is to ask your local stores to label their products that are harmful to pollinators. You may use the image below as a template for a label. Much of the over application of pesticides and herbicides in the United States comes from individual home owners who apply the chemicals to their landscapes. Please be informed about the chemicals that you use, how you apply them, and consider if they are even necessary. Practices such as Integrated Pest Management (IPM) offers many strategies for creating a healthy landscape.