What's even more worrying is that other pollinators are starting to die off as well: bumblebees, hummingbirds, and butterflies. These key species are a necessity to our survival on the planet.
While scientists have not determined the exact cause of CCD, suspects include lack of habitat, huge farm monocultures, rampant pesticide use, and compromised immune systems.
So what can we do? We need bees to pollinate our gardens too!
Step 1: Provide habitat and food for the bees & other pollinators in your yard.
- Provide food: Create an insectary! According to the Melissa Bee Garden, the top 5 plants to attract bees are: borage, lemon balm, tansy, goldenrod, and echium. Also valuable are catmint, salvias, mint, oregano, lavender, garlic, parsley and chives. You could also plant a clover lawn , which attracts bees and doesn't need as much water, fertilizer or mowing.
Bees love my salvia and catmint
- Provide shelter: Leave dead wood for nesting, and dead plants and leaf litter for shelter. Leave some areas of soil uncovered for ground-nesting insects. Group plantings to help pollinators move through the landscape to avoid predators.
- Provide water: Running water, ponds and small containers provide drinking and bathing water. Water sources should have a sloping side so pollinators can approach easily without drowning.
Step II: Don't poison
Many scientists believe pesticides and herbicides, spread by farmers, lawn services and gardeners, are contributing to the epidemic of bee deaths.
Step III: Host bees in your back yard!
Become an urban beekeeper, and provide a home for bees while reaping the benefits of their pollination and harvesting their honey.
So...here's what I'm going to do:
- Plant a clover lawn.
- Plant 6 more bee-attracting perennials in the fall.
- Plant borage again next year.
- Give away at least 3 lemon balms this year (they spring up everywhere)!
- I would love to become a beekeeper... but that is a few years down the road.
How about you?