Gardner’s, Farmers, Governments Innovating to Protect Wild Pollinators
The US Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) published data about 80% of all flowering plant species reproduce with the help of pollinator animals: Bees, Butterflies, Bats and Birds.
This accounts for at least 33% of the world’s food crops, including tomatoes, pepper, strawberries, coffee, apples, carrots, almonds, cocoa, and lots, and lots of others.
Without pollinators, virtually all plants could not produce fruits and seeds, and agricultural bio-diversity would suffer. According to FAO, bees, butterflies, bats, birds, and other pollinators, increase global food production by 87%.
Unfortunately, the world is seeing a decline in pollinator populations. From land-use change and pesticide use to mono-culture agriculture and climate change, there are numerous threats to pollinator populations.
That is why gardeners, farmers, governments, and companies are finding innovative ways to protect wild pollinators and improve cultivation of commercial pollinators.
Last year, an Australian father and son invented a new bee hive design that allows beekeepers to harvest honey without disturbing bees. The Honey Flow is uniquely designed with a partial honeycomb frame and a specialized built-in tap that carefully extracts the honey and allows it to drain directly out of the hive, leaving the bees to continue their work.
This method is easier and safer for amateur beekeepers, this is a much less stressful method of honey collection for bees. Excess stress on bee colonies can make them more vulnerable to disease. The simple hive can also help attract more small-scale hobby beekeepers instead of large-scale commercial apiaries. Independent hives can boost local crop fertilization and improve genetic diversity of bees by reducing the chance of mites or viruses spreading between colonies in close proximity.
BEECause has trained hundreds of people to keep bees and make beeswax products, and their Bees for Trees program establishes self-supporting bee reserves in community-managed sustainable forests.
The EU has made sweeping changes to protect bees from toxic insecticides.
In Y 2012, the European Food Safety Authority assessed the effects of several neonicotinoids on bee populations. They subsequently banned the use these pesticides in agriculture.
In Latin America, the Mexican NGO Pronatura is working to preserve wild and cultivated plant species that feed bees. They work with local producers in these efforts, and they also carry out conservation projects such as restoring wild forests and protecting mangroves and other ecosystems.
Urban beekeeping is now becoming popular across the world.
In Japan, the Ginza Honeybee Project relies on volunteers to harvest honey from rooftop hives in the Ginza district of Tokyo. The organization also lobbies to increase the planting of nectar-rich flowers in the city. And hives are also a teaching tool for elementary school students who take field trips to see the bees in action. The honey is used by local bakeries, hotels, bars, and other companies.
Promoting pollinator health is an issue of global importance, and each of us in one way or the other have the power to help in our backyards or community spaces.
Below are 6 things to do to attract and protect pollinators, according to the US Forest Service, as follows:
- Plant native species. Pollinators have evolved alongside native plants, so they are best adapted to feed on these species. Non-native plants often do not have enough nectar or pollen. As an added bonus, native plants typically require less water, so they are easier for gardeners to maintain.
- When choosing species, opt for a diverse selection of plants with different flowering times so that flowers are blooming throughout the growing season, rather than all at once.
- Consult native plant guides in your region to determine which plant species attract certain types of pollinators.
- Avoid the use of chemicals. Many pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides are harmful to pollinator species. Use compost and bio-charcoal (Bio-Char) as a natural fertilizer, weed by hand, and look for non-chemical treatment methods to take care of pest infestations.
- Provide a welcoming environment. When planting your garden, arrange each species in large patches so that pollinators can forage more efficiently. Avoid the use of weed cloth or heavy mulch, as many native bee species nest underground.
- Provide habitat for pollinators by making piles of branches to attach chrysalises or cocoons. Leave stumps, rotting logs, and fallen organic material for nesting bees. Let dead or dying trees remain standing for woodpeckers.
Remember, tomatoes, pepper, strawberries, coffee, apples, carrots, almonds, cocoa, and lots, and lots of others need Bees!
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