Tuesday, September 15, 2009

(Photo: www.copyright-free-pictures.org.uk)

Catch a Buzz…..Save The Bees!

Every morning, a plump, yellow and black visitor descends upon my deck, happily buzzing around a flower-filled planter next to the slider door. This rotund fellow makes his rounds from bloom to bloom, drinks his fill, then zooms off in search of new delicacies.

Not too long ago I would have viewed this large, stinging insect as a pest, and wished him gone. But that's no longer the case. In fact, lately I’ve been having lots of warm, fuzzy thoughts about bees.

Why? Well, did you know that bees pollinate 60 percent of the food that we eat? Yep! Without them, we wouldn’t have melons, squashes, blueberries, apples, nuts, alfalfa, clover, cocoa, vanilla, mango, plums, apricots, broccoli, coffee….the list goes on and on. Suffice it to say that without bees, “life on this planet as we know it would end,” as noted in an excellent article by Tammy Toad Ryan in this summer’s Edible Jersey magazine.

Folks, bees need your help. They’re in trouble. Here in New Jersey, we’re down from 40,000 hives in 1990 to 10,000 now. Not good! You’ve probably heard about the phenomenon referred to as colony collapse disorder, where previously healthy colonies simply die off. This happens when colonies become weakened, and experts believe this is probably due to loss of food sources and the effects of toxic chemicals in the environment.

What can we do? Experts urge farms and lawns to go organic, since bees are killed when they come into contact with insect-control products that are given to plants in food, water, or soil, or when they eat the plants themselves. Says Tim Schuler, currently the New Jersey State bee inspector (how’s that for a job title??!), “the biggest threat to honeybees is the lack of forage because of changes in land use, and pesticides in our environment. The image of the perfect lawn needs to go.” Turns out that the weeds that foil our quest for the perfect lawn—like dandelions and clover—are perfect food for bees. And the pesticides we use to kill these weeds kill not only the weeds, but the bees, too. A double-whammy! Yikes!!

What else can we do? Plant a variety of flowers (wildflowers are great), to provide bees with viable sources of food. I just added three butterfly bushes to my yard—not only do the butterflies love them, the bees do, too! If anyone can recommend deer-resistant perennials and bulbs, please share!

Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz……. Lisa


Maryann said...

ooooooh, I'm guilty. I jump whenever a bee buzzes near me. I'm going to try to bee more bee friendly and work on my husband to use more gentle products on our lawn. He swears he uses the most benign stuff out there but I'm not sure I believe him.

Great information Lisa! I'm seeing a "Save the Bee's T-shirt" in my closet.....hmmmm

Mary Ann

Chews Your Food! said...

Thanks Maryann. I'd like to plant more flowering perennials to attract them, but everything I plant seems to get eaten by deer or bugs! It's so frustrating.

The lawn...well, that's a dillemma. If I didn't live in a development, I wouldn't care if it was all weeds. I'd just mow short, and be done with it! (Next house.) So now it's a balance between weeding by hand and judicious spot treatment (I try to use an organic product whenever possible). Not fun, but I feel SOOO guilty using chemical pesticides or herbicides on the lawn.

Tammy Toad Ryan said...

eat your weeds!

benefit #1- they are free, and in 'these tough times' free is always good.

benefit #2 - they are generally more nutritious than commercially grown foods (2 wild dandelion leaves can supply you with your daily dose of calcium. purslane is full of omegas...)

and well we would help feed the bees!

thanks for posting this lisa!


Lisa said...

Hi Tammy,

Your'e right, We should be eating our dandelion greens! I've often thought how absurd it is that we kill them in our lawns, yet pay money for a bunch of them at the supermarket!

I saw organic purslane for sale last week at the Flemington Farmers' market. I've never tried it, but now you've piqued my interest!

Thanks for commenting! This is what it's all about--sharing information!