When 15,000 honey bees descended upon Capitol Hill on Friday no one thought the traveling food pollinators were there to plead their case for preservation. But if they had been it would have been better if they had shown up when President Obama was calling for a new national agenda regarding the decline of the honey bee. As it was, the bees that went to Congress on Friday were merely looking for a new home, according to CNN on June 23, which still helps support the president’s desire for “increasing and improving pollinator habitat,” as outlined in his National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators.
On June 22, however, the Washington Post reminded that it is not just honey bees that are critical for human food crop pollination, as wild bees aid in that effort too, and, unfortunately, wild bees are dying off and need to be protected from overuse of pesticides and environmental factors, as well as other detrimental factors that drive them from their homes, too. According to President Obama’s strategy, the federal government will be “planting pollinator gardens and improving land management practices at Federal facilities”. And they hope to encourage state and local governments to follow suit. The president hopes citizens will also join the effort in their home and business landscapes.
A group of University of Maine researchers have undertaken a project to help determine which plants benefit bees the most in the landscape, at least in the state of Maine, according to a report from Science X Network. But the bee module project, which began in 2012, is going to be gathering information for five years before releasing its findings, so homeowners looking for the right plants to put in their landscape now should go with the most frequently provided advice: use native plants from your USDA Plant Hardiness Zone.
National Geographic says there are nine ways you can help bees and other pollinators at home: First, choose native plants in various shapes and colors. Second, make sure to have plants that bloom at differing times of the year, so bees have some form of pollen throughout each season. Third, have blooming flowers, shrubs and trees, so there is plant diversity. Fourth, plant milkweed for the monarch butterfly caterpillars, as well as summer-blooming flowers for the adult butterflies. Fifth, leave some of the landscape without mulch, so bees can nest in the ground. Sixth, create nest sites on your property by drilling holes in a dead tree or buying a bee block at a local garden center. Seven, plant pollen-laden flowers along the borders of your fruit and vegetable plants. Eight, use companion planting techniques to rid your garden and landscape of pests, instead of using pesticides. Lastly, become more educated and active in learning how to help bees and other pollinators in your community through local gardening clubs and national organizations, like the Pollinator Partnership.
Natural bee habitats are being eliminated, which could have serious implications to various agricultural crops in Maine, such as blueberries,” according to the University of Maine. But bee habitats are also being eliminated elsewhere as well, which is why Capitol Hill found itself face-to-face with 15,000 honey bees on the move on Friday.
Join the president’s effort to help keep bees around for the food-pollinating process, to ensure crops for humans continue to be plentiful in America. And the end result will include a lovely landscape as well, with endless hours of entertainment for your and your family as you watch birds and bees flit from one flower to another, eating and moving pollen from place to place, ensuring you will have the food you need, too.