Without our pollinators, there would be no food. Cathy Isom continues her series on bees by telling us what we can do to help bring back the bee population. That’s coming up on This Land of Ours.
Bees are the winged wonders that are really important to us but unfortunately are a dwindling population. Bees occur on every continent except Antarctica, and wherever you find insect-pollinated, flowering plants you will find bees.
Of the nearly 20,000 known bee species in the world, 4,000 live in the United States. Though these guys play a vital role in our agriculture and honey production, they’re native to Europe and were introduced to America in the 1600s.
According to a Cornell University study published in 2012, crops pollinated by honeybees and other insects contributed $29 billion to United States farm income in 2010. Here are just some of the fruits and veggies bumble bees help pollinate: Squash, pumpkin, zucchini, cranberries, apples, green beans, scarlet beans, runner beans, cucumber, strawberries, tomatoes, sweet peppers, blueberries, cherries, kiwifruit, raspberries, blackberries, watermelon. You can help bees by providing some of these flowering plants or flowers in your garden.
Because most queens overwinter in small holes on or just below the ground’s surface, avoid raking, tilling or mowing your yard until April or May. If you do need to mow, do so with the mower blade set at the highest safe level.
Where possible avoid insecticides and herbicides. In particular, steer clear of systemic pesticides such as neonicotinoids, which are taken up by the vascular systems of plants. This means bees and other pollinators are exposed to the poison long after a product has been applied when they feed on the plant’s nectar and pollen.
I’m Cathy Isom…