Greetings fellow readers! I hope everyone’s July is going well! I am so happy to share some exciting news with all of you! For those of you that do not know, the EPA has recently given the Albright garden a grant that will allow us to create a pollinator garden using the grant money. A pollinator garden consists of plants that help attract pollinator species such as honeybees and butterflies. Some people might question why we would want to attract bees of any kind since there is always the risk of getting stung, but there is widespread concern about bees that more individuals should be educated about.
Before I get into any details, let’s go over what, exactly, a pollinator is. “A pollinator,” as described by the National Park Service, “is anything that helps carry pollen from the male part of the flower (stamen) to the female part of the same or another flower (stigma). The movement of pollen must occur for the plant to become fertilized and produce fruit, seeds, and young plants.” Most individuals do not even take into the consideration just how big of a job pollinators are serving us. Can you picture farmers and gardeners trying to pollinate their crops by hand? No, neither can I. Not only would it be a tedious process that would take hours on end to complete, but it would also be virtually impossible to feed 7 billion people using this method. The fear of losing these vital pollinators is becoming a reality when the rusty patched bumblebee was the first bee in the United States to be placed on the Endangered Species list on March 21 of this year. Of course, this problem did not just come about recently, but actually developed over the course of twenty years and accumulated until now, where the honeybee population has declined almost 90 percent.
Natural disasters are a large factor in the dwindling amount of honeybees. For instance, droughts in California and longer winters in the Mid-Western states have definitely affected bees in a negative way. Besides climate change, the bees have declined due to insecticides and fungicides. One extremely potent insecticide in particular, called neonicotinoids, poisons not just a single bee, but an entire colony. Farmers spray their crops with this chemical and the bees, unknowingly, collect the pollen from the plants and take it back to their colony where it therefore poisons the rest.
But what does all of this mean for us in the long run? It means food prices going up which I’m sure will affect some people, if not all. Approximately one-third of every bite we eat from food exists because of pollinators. That means a widespread food loss across the globe, and as stated before with the increasing population we cannot afford that. Already the United States is losing around 30 billion dollars a year just from a decrease in honey production. In addition, the National Park Service states that, “In the United States alone, pollination by honey bees contributed to over $19 billion crops in 2010, while pollination by other insect pollinators contributed to nearly $10 billion of crops.” I’m pretty sure everyone can agree that that is A LOT of money, and it is quickly dropping as time goes on.
If you are getting a little nervous reading this (like I am), you’re probably wondering how you can help. The easiest thing to do is plant a pollinator garden like we are! The great thing about these gardens is that most of the plants that attract pollinators are quite beautiful and smell very fragrant. These animals like bright colors and alluring odors, which also appeal to homeowners looking to brighten the appearance of their gardens and abodes. The next thing is to abandon the use of harmful chemical insecticides and fungicides that harm beneficial insects as well. The practice of organic growing and the use of natural insecticides will prove much more beneficial in the long run. So please everyone, it really is quite simple to create a new home for pollinator species and it is crucial that we do so! These little creatures end up having a huge say in not only our economy, but also our environment as well. We are ultimately the only ones that can help remove the rusty patched bumblebee off the Endangered Species list and prevent any others from going on.
Thanks for reading!
Additional Information on pollinators and pollinator gardens:
Recipe of the Week: Honey Chia Seed Pudding
*makes 4 servings*
∙2 tablespoons – honey
∙2 cups – coconut milk
∙6 tablespoons – chia seeds
∙1/2 teaspoon – vanilla extract
Combine the coconut milk, chia seeds, vanilla and honey in a medium bowl. Mix well until the honey has dissolved. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, but preferable overnight.
Stir well and divide the pudding into individual portions.
Serve with fresh berries. Add granola, if desired.
Saying of the Week:
“Look deep into nature, then you will understand everything better.”