Yesterday was Earth Day. I know I was pretty silent, I wasn’t sure what to say that I haven’t already said or wasn’t being said by others. Did I celebrate in any special way? Not really. The day was rainy but warm enough I could crack the door to listen to the birds. I didn’t shop, or use much electricity and kept the thermostat off until bedtime when the temperatures suddenly seemed to fall close to freezing. It was a typical day from a green point of view.
I began a new practice in the apartment to monitor my electrical usage this week. With the exception of lighting and my freezer I don’t plug much in but have chosen one outlet for all my daily needs. Now if I need to plug in my notebook or my phone I have to choose which one. This has made me more aware of how much I am using both gadgets with my goal to use that one outlet as little as possible.
Now on to the main subject of the week. … BEES
This week, take action to protect honey bees. Please choose at least one action from the following list:
- Plant at least one native, flowering plant in your yard. Avoid hybrid plants … they don’t produce enough nectar or pollen and are useless to bees and other pollinators.
- Plant a vegetable garden.
- Let pests live (natural pest controllers, like Lady Bugs, need them for food).
- Keep your lawn and garden pesticide-free.
- Eliminate chemicals in your home.
- Provide a year-round, clean source of water for bees (rainwater collection, a small garden water feature, bird bath, etc.).
- Leave some dead trees or plants in your yard … bees will nest in them. Or, place a bee house in your garden.
- Buy organic food.
- Take up beekeeping.
Sure bees can be annoying, they hurt when they sting us, but they are vital to sustaining life on earth. Without bees we would have no food. Sure I can grow some root vegetables or greens indoors for food but the vast amount of food we need to be healthy need bees to pollinate them. “The fact is that of the 100 crop species that provide 90 per cent of the world’s food, over 70 are pollinated by bees.” and some Chinese farmers have had to resort to pollinating fruit trees by hand because of the lack of insects.
In 2007, 40% of the bees in North America died. It took a huge toll in agriculture both in Canada and the USA because there weren’t enough bees left in the country to pollinate all the crops. In 2008, 37% of the bees were reported to have died.(source) Bee populations have not rebounded and in fact have gotten worse since 2008. Who can forget the huge (25,000) die off at a Target store last year due to pesticides sprayed on trees.
Bees are more important to mankind than just their ability to pollinate our plants providing us with food. I shared earlier that I use honey as an immune booster having learned it from my grandfather who grew up in a time before antibiotics were available. Today there is proof that honey can be more effective than antibiotics and medical research shows antibiotics when needed work better with honey.
While I can’t provide a home for bees where I live, I do the best I can by them. We keep a large portion of the field wild for all habitat, including bees, along with any decaying matter in those areas. In my vegetable garden I mix in flowers such as nasturtiums, marigolds, morning glory, daisies, and others. While these flowers help attract the bees to the garden they also help to deter pests.
When it comes to the field the only rule we set down was that no pesticides or herbicides were permitted insisting on completely organic methods of controlling pests.
I keep a local beekeepers number handy to give to those who find a swarm on their property, yes it has come in handy, as this bee keeper will come collect swarms for free, and I buy my honey from him as well.
One final thing we can do is to be vocal about the companies who are only concerned about their profits. Bayer fought a ban on a pesticide proven to harm bees:
Bayer CropScience, a subsidiary of Bayer AG (FWB:BAYN), is challenging Europe’s recent ban on a class of pesticides believed to be killing off millions of bees. The two-year ban on neonicotinoids, a controversial class of insecticides, was enacted in May by the European Commission following recent scientific evidence linking the chemical to the global crash of bee populations.
Bayer CropScience is calling the ban “unjustified,” saying it goes beyond the commission’s existing regulatory framework. The German chemical giant also said the commission failed to take into account other factors that are contributing to bee die-offs, including, it says, loss of habitats, extreme environmental and climatic factors and lack of genetic diversity.(source)