Butterflies and bees need our help. They’re currently dying off due to changes in their environments while also being sprayed with deadly pesticides. A bunch of countries have banned the bee-killing pesticides, but that’s not helpful in the short term for beers or farmers. The progress at the policy level is needed and is slowly being rolled out around the globe.
At the individual level there is already stuff we can do to help the bees and our farming friends. All you have to do is plant some native species that your local pollinators love. Oh, and that means lots of butterflies.
The essence of the technique is to devote one in every four cultivation strips to flowering crops, such as oil seeds and spices. In addition, she provides pollinators with cheap nesting support, such as old wood and beaten soil that ground nesting bees can burrow into. Sunflowers were also planted nearby as wind shelters.
“There is a very low barrier so anyone in even the poorest country can do this. There is no equipment, no technology and only a small investment in seeds. It is very easy. You can demonstrate how to do it with pictures sent on a cellphone.”
Compared with control fields of pure monocultures, “amazing” benefits for farmers and an increase in abundance and diversity of pollinators were found. Crops were pollinated more efficiently, there were fewer pests such as aphids and greenfly, and yields increased in quantity and quality.
Neonicotinoids kill bees, specifically their hives, and the EU just expanded their ban on neonicotinoids to help protect the world’s dying bee populations. Back in 2013 the EU banned pesticides with neonicotinoids in them when spraying pesticides on plants and flowers that attracted bees. That meant that the deadly chemicals could still get into the ecosystem and kill hives of bees, and researchers found that the best solution to protecting bees would be an outright ban on neonicotinoids. By this end of this year the total ban will be put in place.
Vytenis Andriukaitis, European commissioner for Health and Food Safety, welcomed Friday’s vote: “The commission had proposed these measures months ago, on the basis of the scientific advice from Efsa. Bee health remains of paramount importance for me since it concerns biodiversity, food production and the environment.”
The EU decision could have global ramifications, according to Prof Nigel Raine, at the University of Guelph in Canada: “Policy makers in other jurisdictions will be paying close attention to these decisions. We rely on both farmers and pollinators for the food we eat. Pesticide regulation is a balancing act between unintended consequences of their use for non-target organisms, including pollinators, and giving farmers the tools they need to control crop pests.”
Bees are amazing little creatures that have been around far longer than humans but now they need our help. As byproduct of industrialization and the overuse of pesticides colony collapse disorder has hit the bees and hard. There is something we as individuals can do to help the bees -start gardening. One person in Toronto has set out to document how she goes about designing her garden to help bees (and other insects) and share that knowledge with everyone. It’s a great site filled with some fun nuggets of information.
If you’re looking for some inspiration for your garden check it out. Her most recent post looked into why bees are amazing and how to identify them:
Over the summer, the native flowers we planted attracted a wide range of pollinators, including a number of native bee species. Using the City of Toronto’s useful (and well illustrated) resource, Bees of Toronto: A Guide to Their Remarkable World, I’ve done my best to identify these garden visitors in the photos below (hint: click the photos to seem them at full size). Once you start to look for these charismatic little creatures, they’re surprisingly easy to find.
A new initiative in Toronto is trying to help the local ecosystem and bring people closer to nature through canoes. Not by paddling, but by bringing bees and butterflies to the canoes.
The core idea is to help pollinators in the city survive by creating little sanctuaries on land using old canoes filled with plants. Humans will be drawn to the canoes too, but for different reasons. People can learn about the local wildlife and environment by additional information provided by the context of the canoe placement.
WHY ARE WE DOING THIS?
Well, we love canoes. And not only do they look awesome filled with native plants and flowers, the Community Canoe Garden network will support local bees, butterflies and other pollinators that help ensure our fruits, veggies and herbs are abundant and healthy.
Please join us in this project. Together, we can build the Community Canoe Network.
And please note that the Community Canoe Garden Network is just the beginning. Working with residents, community groups, the city, and local paddling businesses, our grand ambition is to establish Community Canoe as a service similar to bixi bikes, but for canoes. We want to help make it easier for residents to explore Toronto’s waterfront and waterways. Imagine adding a paddle down the Humber or the Don to your commute, or taking a canoe trip along the waterfront!
Read more and contribute to the project here.
Thanks to Shea!