To bee or not to bee, or let it bee

April is nearly over! In fact as of today’s issue, there is only one more day remaining in my least favorite month of the year.

Why is it my least favorite? There are a few, but legitimate reasons: rain, wind, snow, rain, wind, snow, and add in temperatures that range from 30 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

Now May is another matter. Besides being the month of Mary (she knows how to pick them), it’s the cusp of summer and cookouts and beaches and long, warm days.

Sure, the good weather has its drawbacks as well, but I’d like to concentrate on only one. Good people, before you take a swatter, or the back of your hand to a bumble bee, honey bee, or moth, think twice. Please.

They say out of the mouths of babes come words of wisdom. It’s true.

My youngest daughter Emilie is finishing up her junior year at UMass Dartmouth and has been contemplating her senior thesis topic.

For me, as an English major at the same school a “few” years ago, I chose the wit and wisdom of Samuel Clemens, a.k.a., Mark Twain.

As a graphic design major, Emilie is leaning toward something more productive to mankind. She’s thinking of preparing a marketing program designed to help the dramatically and scary bumble bee and honey bee population in the U.S.

Thanks to my pup, I’ve learned that honey bee populations are in drastic and accelerating decline just about everywhere that they are indigenous. Bumble bees too are declining. There is a host of other pollinators that do help: bats, moths, butterflies, hummingbirds, beetles and flies, but the effects of a declining bee population could be disastrous. 

Em has taught me that two-thirds of crops in this country require pollination. That translates to one out of every three bites of natural foods we eat (not counting meat, fish or poultry). 

Just some of the foods our bee friends pollinate are: almonds, apples, apricots, avocados, blueberries, cherries, citrus, cranberries, grapes, kiwi, macadamia nuts, nectarines, olives, peaches, pears, asparagus, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cucumbers, cantaloupe, honeydew, onions, pumpkins, squash, watermelons, alfalfa hay and seed, cotton lint and seed, legume seed, peanuts, soybeans, sugar beets, and sunflowers.

Are we ready to give any of those up? 

Some of the causes of the bees’ decline are the use of pesticides, and the destruction of their natural habitats — as only man can do.

I hope reading about this causes a buzz. We can help our little fuzzy creatures make a come back.

According to honeybeecrisis.com, here are some ways that you can help.

“Provide nutrients: flowers provide nectar (carbohydrates) and pollen (protein). Butterfly larvae ingest the plants in which they incubate. Fruit that has fallen to the ground or fermented on the tree provides food for pollinators.

“When you are planning your garden patch, plant in bunches so that blooms are close together. Plan to have flowers throughout the blooming season by choosing different plants with specific blooming periods. Vary the plants so there are lots of different heights, colors and fragrances. Native perennials such as salvias and herbs all provide food for these important creatures. Try herbs like mint, oregano, lavender, garlic, parsley and chives. Annuals with their bright flowers are also perfect for the home garden.

“Provide a suitable home: planting in bunches as mentioned above allows for pollinators to zip in and out of food sources quickly to avoid predators. If possible, use a combination of trees, shrubs and perennials at different heights to help provide shelter. For ground nesters, leave some bare dirt spots so they too can take up residence in your home garden. Garden litter — leaves and dead wood for example also provide shelter.

“Provide clean water: Even a small water reservoir provides drinking water and also bathing water for birds and other creatures. It is a joy to watch a bird take a bath, as it flaps its wings and splashes the water about.

“Don’t use harmful chemicals: simply avoid using pesticides and herbicides.”

Save the bees. It’s not just another “tree-hugger’s” slogan. Good people, let’s do all we can do and bee all we can bee. It’s another gift from God that we’ve taken for granted.

For more information on fighting for our fuzzy friends, visit prwatch.org or honeybeecrisis.com.

davejolivet@anchornews.org


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