Maintaining a colony of flying, stinging insects may not seem an enjoyable pastime, but it is one that I have chosen to pursue. After being exposed to beekeeping online, I learned of the threats to pollinators, worldwide, and the fulfillment of the beekeeping discipline. I was inspired by this knowledge to enroll in a ‘beginning beekeeping’ course administered by a local beekeeping association which prepared me to sustain two hives of my own.
Additionally, I began researching honey bee communication with the magnet school that I attend, further kindling my passion for honey bees. I was informed of the pheromones that keep the colony “in-check” and a honey bee dance language, which helps to locate patches of flowers. However, the honey bee is one of many pollinators and is not native to North America.
Globally pollinator species are in decline, leaving many to wonder what they can do to revive the essential insects. Pesticide use, habitat loss, parasites and diseases are to blame for their shrinking populations, but all hope is not lost. Home gardeners may take painless measures to establish pollinator “sanctuaries” and promote habitat-restoration efforts via social media.
While foraging, pollinators transfer the pollen of one flower to another, enabling the production of seeds, berries, and fruits. Therefore, the abundance of produce, dependent upon animal pollination, is jeopardized by pollinator scarcity.
Community members seeking to restore pollinator populations should install native wildflowers to their gardens, avoid pesticides, and plant milkweed. Wildflowers provide the sustenance of rich pollen and nectar, while milkweed attracts monarch butterflies. To support the 4,000 bee species native to North America, one may buy or build “bee houses,” occupied by solitary bees.
In summary, here are five simple ways of making your yard pollinator-friendly:
– Raise the blades of lawn mowers, to allow clover to bloom throughout your yard. Clover is a frequent foraging-source of bees, as it is a melliferous or nectar-bearing flower.
– Install a pollinator garden to diversify the plant life existing on your property. Pollinator gardens consist of several species of native plants and wildflowers that attract birds, bats, and insects.
– Attach “native bee houses” to your fence or the exterior of your home to provide a habitat for solitary bees, which live not as members of a colony, but as individuals.
– Eliminate the use of pesticides or chemicals that may be harmful to wildlife on your property.
– Advocate the protection of grasslands and meadows by contacting legislators, and promoting the cause through social media posts and petitions. Additionally, encourage your family, friends, and community-members to transform your community into a diverse, pollinator habitat.
This blog post was written by volunteer Jackson Hunley. Jackson is a rising sophomore at Massaponax High School in Spotsylvania county. He is a Life Scout with Troop 170 and is using his Eagle project to pursue bee keeping and pollinator education throughout the area. Jackson has pursued environmental science throughout his childhood through camping, hiking, biking, fishing and doing general outdoor activities with his family.