Where have all the bees gone? Many farmers have managed regional problems for years, but now we are faced with bees disappearing in droves across the nation. The benefits of bees go way beyond the honey they produce. In the agriculture world, bees play an invaluable role in pollinating many of the fruits and vegetables we eat every day.
In a New York Times article, Cornell University estimated that bees pollinate up to $14 billion worth of seeds a year. According to Entrepreneur.com, honey bees are responsible for pollinating over 90 varieties of fruits and vegetables worldwide, especially blueberries and apples. Just think about how many bites of food we eat every day that depend on the pollination of bees.
There are many different theories as to why the bees are disappearing at such alarming rates, ranging from synthetic pesticides, poor nutrition, cold weather, mite infestations, diseases, or just pure exhaustion. Whether you are an avid gardener or just a consumer who likes to eat, we can all do our part to support local bee colonies. Here is some food for thought:
- Eliminate the use of synthetic pesticides, especially when bees and other pollinators are hard at work. The residue left on plants, even when dry, can harm beneficial insects. Many pest and disease problems can be eliminated by improving soil quality and water practices. Prevention is the key to achieving a natural garden!
- Choose spring and summer plants that pollinators love. Many of these plants are drought tolerant once established through regular watering during the first season. Some of my favorites include:
For a complete plant list, click Urban Bee Project. Please consult a local nursery to be sure the plants are not considered invasive in your area. Choosing native plants is a sure way to have a successful, low-maintenance, yet beautiful garden.