If you ate today, thank the bees.
Bees and butterflies are responsible for the food we eat but their numbers are plummeting. May 20 is World Bee Day, so protect pollinators — bring bees back from the brink.
Plant it and they will come, say the experts: Planting just three pollinator-friendly wildflowers that bloom in three different seasons — spring, summer and fall — can save declining bees and butterflies, reports the Million Pollinator Garden movement. Our friendly buzz buds pollinate everything from apples to almonds.
“It is often said that two of every three bites of food are dependant on pollinators — bees and other pollinating insects ensure that many crops and flowering plants are able to reproduce,” says Jode Roberts, pollinator program manager at David Suzuki Foundation (DSF).
Call off the bee-pocalypse! Be-gone beemageddon! Make this weekend the bee’s knees. Think of it as setting up a Bee-bnb. Host a five-star stay for wild bees and other insects by setting up your yard as a pollinator paradise.
Bee-bnb is the brainchild of DSF and a spinoff of the popular Airbnb platform, and the insect web and mobile platform at davidsuzuki.org/beebnb provides ideas to create a pollinator-friendly patch abuzz with success and a repeat clientele.
“Wild bees, like most flying insects, have taken a hit over the past several years,” says Roberts. “There has been a quiet, dramatic disappearance of insects worldwide and here in Canada.”
Sadly, 40% of all invertebrate pollinator species, particularly bees and butterflies, are at risk of extinction, according to the National Research Council.
DSF’s second annual Bees in My Backyard (BIMBY) research project kicked off in Toronto this week with households recruited to create “wild bee sanctuaries” in their yards, including special bee hotels for cavity-nesting bees, like mason and leafcutter bees.
Wild bees can be found throughout Canada and cities are surprisingly hotspots of bee diversity, says Roberts.
“Adding even more wildflower-filled green spaces at our schools, parks and yards is an easy and effective thing we can do across the country — with the side benefit that it makes our neighbourhoods more beautiful too!”
Climate change, pesticide use and habitat loss have all contributed to the insect decline in Canada and around the world. So be nice and build a wild bee sanctuary with these tips from davidsuzuki.org:
- Native wildflowers are a must. These provide sugar-rich nectar and protein-filled pollen that these insects depend on. Include a diversity of native species of all shapes and sizes, that flower in different seasons. Plant in big patches for more efficient foraging.
- Go natural. Mow your lawn less and avoid herbicides — they kill nectar-producing plants such as clover, creeping thyme and dandelions. A yard full of grass is a wasteland for pollinators!
- The best spring bee-attracting plants include foxglove, heather, primrose, crocus and heliotrope. Mid-season bee-loving plants include chives, dahlia, lavender, sunflower and yarrow, while these late-season plants will have insects swooning including coneflower, pumpkin, perennial asters, sedum and squash.
SLOW FOOD MOVEMENT SPEEDS THINGS UP
Slow Food launches an international “Slow Bees” action plan tomorrow to protect pollinators and increase the buzz about the threats against bees and other pollinators, and plants.
Slow Food activists will plant organic flowering shrubs or trees to support clean pollinator forage. Slowfood.com will kick off the buzz online using hashtags #onetreeforahive , #plantoneforpollinators and #slowtreesforbees . The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization reports today’s species are facing extinction rates 100 to 1,000 times higher than normal due to human impacts. “We know that you cannot have healthy pollinators if you do not have ample organic flowers for the entire growing season, that is why we call people to act,” say beekeeper Jennifer Holmes, of Slow Food International.
GET READY, SET — GROW!
It’s the most wonderful time of the year for gardeners — this holiday weekend is the busiest gardening weekend.
“Our research shows that 35% of Canadians are planning on adding flowers and 42% are planning to grow fruit and vegetable gardens this year,” says gardening guru Mark Beaty. Beautifying home exteriors and eating locally grown foods are feeding the stats.
The planting business has grown by 40% in the past five years, and annuals are top sellers representing 65% of plants sold at this time of year.
According to Beaty, gardening expert for Home Depot, the big trends for this growing season include:
- Tropical flowers and tropical foliage you might normally see inside are now moving outside. Put tropical plants in containers and planters around the patio or pool for a great look. It’s harder to have them flourish when they go into garden beds.
- White blossoms are big, especially in Toronto and Vancouver, such as jasmine, impatiens and geraniums, and bi-colour/multicolour flowers, such as Calibrachoa.
- Pollinator plant and flower environments and community-wide planting initiatives are blossoming.
- Purple is the most popular selling annual, followed by pink. Then comes red, and that’s predominantly in geraniums. Actually geraniums rule followed by the gerbera, petunia, impatiens and begonia. Meanwhile, there’s no better time than now to discover your green thumb. Beaty offers these tips for beginners:
- Choose the garden space based on how much sun it receives. Ideally, it should receive six hours of sun exposure.
- tart with the proper garden soil as opposed to a topsoil.
- Use plant food to give your garden the best chance of flourishing.
- Be aware of the water requirements. Outdoor gardens and planters need to be checked at least every other day and watered regularly.
Review the plant tags at the store to ensure you’re choosing the right plant for your space. Some plants require more space between them than others.
By Joanne Richard
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019