Our main objective is to increase pollinator habitat by enhancing, protecting and creating new habitats for the 400 species of native bees in New England. Yes bees, because they are the most efficient pollinators. The 2006 pollinator status report by the National Academy of Science is a wake up call.
The report points to the need for more research, yet time is getting short -- yet a wave of citizen scientists, aligned with universities, nature centers, botanical gardens, and arboretums, etc. are starting to gather essential data needed. There's no time like the present to get involved!
The executive summary:
"Pollinators--insects, birds, bats, and other animals that carry pollen from the male to the female parts of flowers for plant reproduction--are an essential part of natural and agricultural ecosystems throughout North America. For example, most fruit, vegetable, and seed crops and some crops that provide fiber, drugs, and fuel depend on animals for pollination.
This report provides evidence for the decline of some pollinator species in North America, including America’s most important managed pollinator, the honey bee, as well as some butterflies, bats, bees and hummingbirds. For most managed and wild pollinator species, however, population trends have not been assessed because populations have not been monitored over time, (like honeybees have)....
This report outlines priorities for research and monitoring that are needed to improve information on the status of pollinators and establishes a framework for conservation and restoration of pollinator species and communities."
Creating more habitat does a world of good for pollinators and our food system. Food security for all of us.
7 Questions to ask
Plant Purveyors to see if they are truly selling "Bee-Friendly Plants"
Question 1) Do you carry "Bee or Pollinator-Friendly" plants, ex. bee balm, echinacea, hyssop, cosmos, zinnia, asters, lobelia, wild geranium, squill, hyacinths, liatris, lavender, among many others?
If Yes, then ask Ques.#3.
If No, ask
Question 2) would you carry them to give pollinators more flowers from which to gather nectar and pollen?
Question 3) Do you know what is in your potting soil?
If Yes, ask which materials.
If No, ask Ques. #4.
Question 4) Is your soil mix is a straight forward mix of sphagnum moss, perlite with some fertilizer, or does it have a pesticide in the soil? If the former, thank them for being responsible stewards.
If they don’t know, ask Ques. 5?
Question 5) Do your potting soils contain systemic pesticides containing any of the following chemicals:
Acetamiprid, Clothianidin, Dinotefuran, Imidacloprid, Thiamethoxam (neonicitinoids).
If they are selling these products in their potting soils, grass treatments, and/or other garden/farm products to control insects, please tell them about the harmful effects these products are having on pollinators; these insecticides move on up the plant and get into the pollen and nectar that bees and all pollinators eat and feed their young with. Most pollinators are insects after all.
Then ask Ques.#6.
Question 6) Would you stop selling these systemic pesticides? Or at least post warnings to alert gardeners of the threat to harming pollinators.
If yes to not selling systemic pesticides ask Ques. #7
Question 7) Ask if they would sign a pledge not to sell systemic pesticides that harm pollinators?
If Yes, celebrate in their honor.
If No, shop at a Bee-Safe Nursery or Garden Center and join other bee-safe and food safe campaigns. Thank you.
See List of
Bee Safe Nurseries
Pollinators Welcome artfully weaves wildflower meadows and bee habitat into edible landscapes. Since bees are the dominant pollinators of our fruits and vegetables, it’s only natural that bees should be the focus of our gardens. From apples to zucchini, and willows to asters, picture flowers blooming throughout the season feeding our eyes, nose, stomach and hearts, while making room for the most essential creatures on our planet. Without them we would have a third less variety in our gardens, on our farms, and on our plate.
Switching to organic makes complete sense. When we grow food organically we eat more nutritiously, increase soil health, reduce our carbon footprint, rejuvenate nature, and get to taste incredibly delicious food on a regular basis. It goes without saying, that when we combine eating wholesome home grown food that is surrounded by pollinator habitat, we greatly increase our future generation’s ability to feed itself well. In the process we help food-plant flowers create viable seeds to pass on to the next generation. Now that's a mouthful.
A recent PW-sponsored survey looked for regional, MA state and local western MA nurseries whose plant and soil materials are truly "bee safe". These nurseries do not use neonicitinoids in their soils or potting mixes. Thus far, our preliminary results found the following 7 nurseries who we consider Bee-Safe:
Food Forest Farm
North Creek Nurseries
Tripple Brook Farm
New England Wetland Plants
Top 10 Tips for Pollinator Proliferation
Approved Bee-Safe Organic Pesticides
Top 10 Tips for
Provide pithy and hollow-stem nesting for native bees. Tunnel-nesting bees are great pollinators of early-blooming fruits and will lay their eggs in hollow tubes such as bamboo, paper tubes and drilled holes, and the pithy stems of staghorn sumac, raspberry and elderberry.
Reduce lawn area and plant wildflowers instead. Reducing lawns by planting a native wildflower border at least three feet wide around them creates more habitat for pollinators. Also, raise your mower height to 4 inches and overseed with clover and other bee-attracting flowering plants.
Connect with neighbors’ habitats. Connectivity of habitat is good for all wildlife, including pollinators. They can find larger areas to mate, lay eggs and visit flowers you plant for them. Consider joining with your neighbors to plant along your property lines.
Join a Pollinator Protection group. Organizations that have stepped up to face this issue include the Pollinator Partnership, the Xerces Society of Invertebrate Conservation, Friends of the Earth, and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
Stop applying pesticides to your lawn. Most pollinators nest in the ground and need access to pesticide-free soil.
Plant truly pollinator-friendly--“neonicotinoid-free”--seeds, plugs and potted plants. Avoid so-called “pollinator friendly” plants that include systemic pesticides in the potting soil, since these pesticides are implicated in many honeybee and native bee deaths. Be sure to ask about what is in the potting soil of plants you intend to purchase and see ask a lot of questions. See list of 7 questions to ask your plant purveyor.
Promote municipal “bee-friendly” practices. All towns have areas where bees and butterflies could live peacefully. Encourage your town to consider planting native wildflowers along roads, paths and walkways. Ask your local elementary and high school to plant habitat for butterflies and honey bees.
Grow and buy local organic food and plants. Through our purchases we can ensure support for healthful growing practices that protect soil life and the food we eat, which foster the pollinators who make seed possible. Our buying power is leveraged when we connect the dots between the food on our plates and a healthy landscape for pollinators and all life.
Take pesticides to hazardous waste collection day. If you have already purchased systemic pesticides, ask your nursery or garden center to take them back. If they can’t or won’t, take them to the Hazardous Waste Collection Day in your community.
Get to know native bees. The majority of native bees do not sting, or have little effect if they do. Get books on their identification and take classes by local experts to learn more. Get to know the difference between wasp, hornets and pollinating bees. Even though a bumble bee will sting if you bother their nest, you can actually pet them when they are gathering nectar and pollen from flowers.
"Habitat Landscape Design:
People, Plants, & Pollinators"
Approved Organic Pesticides
Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation