The Flower Lady Blog
Wondering how to help save the bees? Look no further, there are numerous ways that you and your garden can help protect these creatures!
Bees are one of the many pollinators native to the state of Wisconsin, among many other insects including flies, wasps, butterflies, moths, beetles, and ants. There are nearly four hundred different bee species known to the State of Wisconsin. A single colony of bees can consist of 50,000 or more individual bees, while only 300 bees are needed to pollinate one acre of apple trees.
Nearly three-quarters of the world’s major food crops are estimated to benefit from pollinators, as these creatures feed most commonly on pollen and nectar. Bees play an essential role in the pollination of plants and seeds such as strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, plums, apples, cherries, watermelons, cucumbers, tomatoes, squash, broccoli, cauliflower, herbs, and more! As honey bee and native bee populations are on the decline, production of these plants are being threatened. Many fruits and vegetables will be jeopardized without bees to pollinate. Not only would the extinction of bees drastically threaten the diet of human beings, but it also affects the entire ecosystem.
Without bees to pollinate plants such as alfalfa and lupin, herbivores that rely on crops, pollinated will be significantly affected as well. Without alfalfa, the food supply to animals in farming will decrease, threatening other animal products such as milk and meat. If the population of herbivores declines, the tertiary carnivores will ultimately begin to suffer as well.
Biofuels also will significantly be affected by the extinction of bees. Fuels and oils dependent on Canola, for example, a corn product relies much on pollinators. Without bees and biofuel, we will have to depend on fossil fuels entirely, and in turn, further pressuring the environment negatively.
Clothing is just one more example of products much reliant on these crucial pollinators. Cotton production heavily relies on pollination. Without bees to pollinate cotton crops, humans will have to rely on other materials for clothing production. These are but a few examples of the way human life will be affected by the loss of bees. For these reasons and many others, it is crucial that we SAVE THE BEES!
So why are bees endangered in the first place?
Pesticides are the most considerable risk to native and honey bee populations. Specifically, insecticides containing neonicotinoids pose a significant threat to bees by attacking the bees nervous system, paralyzing and killing them. The use of neonicotinoids has accounted for nearly 25% of the agrochemical market, while negatively impacting our ecosystem.
Parasites are the second most significant threat to bee populations. Varroa Destructor is a parasitic mite that can only reproduce in a honey bee colony by attaching itself to a bee and sucking the fat bodies from the bee. This disease is called varroosis and can be detected through symptoms of abnormal shaping and patterning in the brood, and larvae slumped to the bottom or side of the cell. Parasitic mite syndrome significantly reduces the reproduction of honey bee populations and results in colony breakdown and death.
How can I make a difference in my own garden?
1. Eliminating pesticide use
By removing the usage of pesticides and insecticides in your garden, bees are better able to thrive. Not only do pesticides prevent pollinators from entering and benefitting your garden, but they often harm and kill them. If you do, however, choose to use pesticides in your garden, using organic pesticides may reduce the amount of harm. By introducing beneficial insects such as ladybugs, spiders, and praying mantises. These insects are higher on the food chain than harmful insects and will help protect your garden.
2. Preserving or creating natural nesting sites
Bees frequently nest in various places including the trees, thick grasses, bird boxes, and even the ground! Actually, a majority of bees nest underground. By allocating an appropriate undisturbed plot of garden land for ground-nesting bees to burrow, you’re encouraging bees habituation. Don’t have the extra room? There are various other types of bee habitat options - including the popular wooden bee hotel option!
3. Plant & Cultivate Flowering Plants
Not only are flowering plants a beautiful addition to your garden, but by cultivating flowering plants, bees and other pollinators will feed on nectar provided from your own backyard. Some common bee-friendly plants include lilac, buttercup, geranium, sweet asylum, sunflower, black-eyed susan, honeysuckle, wisteria, violets, prairie smoke, and various herbs such as cilantro, sage, thyme, fennel, mint and more! For a full list of bee-friendly and Wisconsin native plants, check out the Wisconsin Horticulture Division website at https://hort.extension.wisc.edu/articles/pollinat...
4. Avoid Hybrid and Double Flowers
Hybrid plants aren’t necessarily detrimental to bee populations like pesticides. However, hybrid plants are bred to produce very little nectar and pollen. Gardening hybrid plants are virtually useless to honey bee gardens.
Similarly, double flower plants, typically hybridized annuals, are not beneficial to pollinators. Double flower plants are often showy, colorful flowers that are bred to have extra rows of petals. Some examples include Pompom Dahlias, Mophead Chrysanthemums, and Hybrid Tea Roses. Based on the breeding of these hybrids, these flowering plants often replace stamens and nectaries with rows of petals, not beneficial to pollinators or foraging insects. Again, these types of flowers are not harmful to bees directly but are also not beneficial as they do not provide pollen or nectar.
I don’t have a garden, so how can I make a difference?
1. Support your local beekeeper
If you don’t have the space for a bee garden or a hive of your own, you can always support beekeepers in the area! Beekeepers work hard to nurture their bee populations, and by buying locally made honey and beeswax products such as soaps and candles, you’re helping to benefit bees in your own community! You can also contact your local beekeeping societies for information on volunteering at a hive! There are many opportunities to help save the bees all over the world- but here are a couple hives in the Milwaukee Area:
2. Eat Local!
By supporting local growers and buying fruits, vegetables, and honey from local farmers markets, you’re supporting sustainable and earth-friendly agriculture. You can also vote with your wallet by eating organic produce that is not treated with insecticides that are harmful to bees.
3. National Honey Bee Day EVENT AUGUST 27th
The Flower Lady is hosting our first National Honey Bee Day Event on August 27th, 2019! As a part of our Market Saturday series we will be hosting BEEVANGELISTS, non-profit beekeeping, and conservation group out of Milwaukee. BEEVANGELISTS will be hosting a table at our event, with beekeeping demonstrations, local honey, and conservation information. The Flower Lady shop will also be featuring bee-friendly giveaways, plants for sale, and bee-related merchandise for purchase. A portion of bee-related sales will be donated to Bee conservation groups in Wisconsin! Join us from 9AM-2PM!