The smallest things in life are often the most important. The same applies to our planet Earth. As humans, we dominate the hierarchy through modern inventions and industrialization. Most ecosystems on Earth have been meddled with by humans. Deforestation, overfishing, pollution, and poaching have interfered with nature’s natural process of life and death. The most affected beings are the pollinators. The small insects that are in charge of helping produce food for humans and other animals are declining in population. With humans building cities instead of planting trees and spraying chemicals everywhere, the pollinators cannot survive. But there are a few things that we can do to help the smallest beings out.
Build a pollinator-friendly garden
The idea of building and maintaining a garden often intimidates people, but a garden can be of any size. If you have unused lawn space in either your back or front yard, consider planting some low-maintenance flowers. Wildflowers are a good place to start as they do not require much space, do not need to be watered regularly, and provide color to your lawn. Wildflower seeds are usually sold in mixed packs and are readily available in stores such as Home Depot and Lowes. All you must do is ensure that you choose a plot of land that gets ample sunlight and remove the top layer of grass. Once you are left with a plot of dirt, sprinkle your seeds on top. You can gently take a bit of soil to cover the seeds. Provide water for seeds so that the soil stays moist, and you can expect to see signs of growth in a week. If you live in an apartment or condo, consider planting flowers in pots on a balcony or a terrace. Wildflowers provide easy access to pollen for bees and butterflies, making them very important in helping pollinator numbers increase.
Don’t remove beehives from your property
Yes, it can be annoying to have bees swarm you, thinking that you are attacking their hive when you only want to walk out the door. Having beehives attached to the side of your house, roof, or on your property can be a tad inconvenient. However, removing them while the hive is in use can greatly disturb the population of the colony. Active hives usually have worker bees that are out collecting pollen. If they return and find that their hive has been removed, they will become straggler bees. Straggler bees who do not have a colony are less likely to survive, reducing the bee population. Instead, call a professional bee handler who can safely relocate colonies if possible. Find local organizations that specialize in maintaining the beehive while relocating. If you live in Ontario, Canada, a good organization to find help is Ontario Bee Rescue.
Reduce use of pesticide
Pesticides are common for gardeners seeking to protect their crops from insects, but such pesticides negatively affect pollinators. Bees that land on flowers for their pollen end up ingesting deadly pesticides. There are different alternatives that one can use:
- Avoid using pesticides on flowering plants. The flower is where pollinators get the nectar, so restrict usage of toxic chemicals on such plants.
- Plant a variety of plant species or try ‘companion planting’. Certain plants attract insects, keeping them away from the produce. For example, marigolds are usually planted between vegetables as they attract insects.
Support Organic farming
As mentioned before, pesticides play a large role in the population reduction of pollinators. A good way of supporting a sustainable future is by buying organic produce. Local organic farmers do not use pesticides on their plants, allowing pollinators to thrive. Take the time to research farmer markets near you so that you spend your money wisely and in a manner that benefits the environment.
Reuse, Reduce, and Recycle
The last step is most likely one that you have heard before. This step seems simple, but when we live in a fast-paced world, we often take all the natural resources that we have for granted. One way to be respectful towards the pollinators is to finish food and drinks before disposing them in the garbage. Why? Because bees are attracted to the sweet sugar that is put in many beverages. Instead of searching for actual nectar from plants, bees get confused by the sugary drinks and hover around garbage cans searching for nectar. Keep in mind that such food waste is not healthy for bees and causes problems in the long term, and pollen can only sustain their colony. Being more conscious of your wastage and consumption can help reduce the number of dying colonies.