Tuesday, April 25, 2017

5 easy ways to help the bees

Bees and other pollinators such as butterflies and moths are responsible for about 70% of our food supply. So it kind of makes sense that if they are in trouble, we are to.

Bees in particular are struggling right now. The biggest problem they face right now seems to be the use of pesticides, specifically neonics. The danger from them is serious enough that governments are taking notice, Europe has banned their use, while the issue is being discussed in canadian government right now. Essentially neonics stay with a treated plant for years, and every time a bee drinks from that plant it is taking a toxic cocktail that eventually causes death, most often over winter.

There are some simple steps we can take to help, even if all you have is a couple of pots on your balcony or a window box. It isn't the size of the garden that counts, it's the thought behind it.

1. Ask before you buy. Several large suppliers such as Rona have committed to making their supply chain neonic free, and to labeling clearly for the consumer. No matter where you shop, ask for confirmation that the plant is neonic free. If they can't answer a solid yes don't buy there. Going neonic free doesn't mean you have to buy the most expensive plants, it simply means asking and making a choice about where to buy from.

2. Plant flowers that are brightly coloured. Bees in particular can see yellow and blue flowers, other pollinators such as butterflies are attracted to red.

3. If you have a lawn, don't cut down the dandelions when they first appear! Dandelions are one of the first food sources in spring for bees, after a long winter they desperately need to find sources of food quickly. Learn to love the bright yellow happy flowers that dot your lawn.

Don't have a lawn? ask your local municipality to let dandelions grow in public spaces and parks!

4. Set out small saucers of water outside. Change them often to keep from getting stagnant and to discourage mosquitoes.

5. Give bees and other insects places to burrow and hid. You can find a myriad of tutorials for bee hotels on pinterest, but it can be as simple as leaving some empty earth spaces that don't have a layer of mulch, that insects can burrow down into.

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