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[1THING] Blog: Archive for the ‘Pollinators’ Category

[ It’s Our 1Thing for October….Saving the Bees! ]

1thing_honeybee_flipper

Honey bees support billions of dollars in agriculture. But today, a major decline in honey bee health has put agriculture, healthy lifestyles, and worldwide food security at risk.Many of the nutritious fruits and vegetables we enjoy require honey bee pollination – approximately 1 in 3 bites of the food we eat! The Honey Bee Health Coalition brings together beekeepers, researchers, government agencies, agribusinesses, growers, conservation groups, manufacturers, consumer brands and other key partners with the goal of reversing recent declines in honey bee health and ensuring the long-term health of honey bees and other pollinators.

More information is available at Honey Bee Health Coalition.

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[ Save Our Monarchs…It’s Our 1Thing for April…. ]

Monarchs

The Monarch butterfly is endangered. Monarch population is down an alarming 80% since 1992. Like the bee, Monarchs are pollinators and are important to our survival. Much of the decline can be attributed to the Milkweed population, which is also down 80% since 1992, most likely due to the extensive use of herbicides and pesticides on agricultural crops. Milkweed is the only sustenance for the Monarch’s caterpillar. Our mantra is No Milkweed, No Monarchs….

SaveOurMonarchs.org is helping to rebuild the habitat for the Monarch. Find out what is transpiring in the Monarch Community at Facebook.com/SaveOurMonarchs. Learn more and to get free seeds (Asclepias Incarnate or Swamp Milkweed) to plant more milkweed at SaveOurMonarchs.org.

SOM_EarthDay

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[ Save the bees!!! ]

It’s no secret that bees and other pollinators play an enormous role in our environment and ecosystem, but what exactly is pollination? According to Wikipedia, “Pollination is the process by which pollen is transferred from the anther to the stigma of the plant, thereby enabling fertilization and reproduction.” In other words, it is what allows a plant to flower or produce fruit, nuts or vegetables. Everything from celery to apples, to strawberries, melons and squash require pollination in order for food to be produced. Coffee is on the list too! What would happen without your morning coffee? With the decline in pollinators, a coffee-free world could become a reality.

Bees make more than just honey happen. And their numbers are declining. There are many thoughts as to why, but there are also lots of ways you can help save the bees, and other pollinators. Sometimes thought of as pests, bees, birds, bats, butterflies, moths and even flies are all considered pollinators. And it’s not that difficult to help save them!
Simple ways to help:
• Help create a habitat in your community. Even a tiny spot in your yard can be designated to be a bee or bird habitat.
• Plant native flowers and plants. Bees are not attracted to exotic species, so that bird of paradise on your deck won’t do them any good. Try planting lupines, echinacea, penstemon, Rocky Mountain bee plant, black eyed susans, elderberry or indian grass in your garden. The list is long of native plants that will grow in Colorado. http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/Garden/07242.html
• Cluster plantings of native flowers together to ensure continuous blooms.
• Avoid pesticides and yard chemicals as much as possible! One possible theory of the disappearance of the honeybee is from neonicotinoids, which confuses the bees nervous system and they are unable to find their way back to their hive, and they drop dead from exhaustion. Other garden pesticides can affect bees and other pollinators too.
• Try organic pest control techniques. Handpick worms and caterpillars off your vegetables in the garden, plant marigolds or calendula to act as a deterrent, or use plain white vinegar as a weed killer (spray in the morning on a sunny day). Dishsoap or dishsoap with oil in water sprayed on plants helps with aphids and other bugs (do not use in direct sun). http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/garden/xcm221.pdf
• Keep the garden healthy from the beginning! Strong plants will help attract beneficial bugs and detract from the bad. Rotate your crops so the soil can recover. Use compost to enhance the soil, not chemical synthetic fertilizers. (Be cheap and save your food scraps and make your own compost! Make Compost) Pull unhealthy or diseased plants out immediately.
• Provide shelter for the bees and other pollinators. They need shelter from the wind and adverse conditions near food sources, trees or ‘shelterbelts’. Old logs, old foliage from plants (wait until spring to clean up), open patches of dirt and even a simple block of untreated wood with holes drilled in it can be a new nest for a bee! Bee Nest
• Make sure there is water nearby too! Bird baths can be too deep, so add some marbles or rocks to it so bees, butterflies and baby birds can get a drink without drowning. Remember to fill daily! Honeybee Watering Station Butterfly Puddling
• Next spring, try sprouting your own seeds too. Too often plants from the big stores are loaded with pesticides that affect the bees. More stores are starting to change, so look for labels on the plant to see if it does, or doesn’t, contain neonicotinoids. There are also petitions on line to sign to encourage your favorite store to make its bee friendly plants really bee friendly!
• Shop your local farmers market and buy organic whenever possible. Both practices help protect the environment that we, and the pollinators, live in.
• Celebrate National Honeybee Day on August 15. Learn more about bees, honey, bee husbandry and more at your local farmers market, local beekeeper or www.nationalhoneybeeday.com.

Sources:
http://www.pollinator.org/7things.htm
http://www.ext.colostate.edu/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_crop_plants_pollinated_by_bees
http://www.abnativeplants.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/plants.search/index.htm?adid=45600
http://eartheasy.com/grow_nat_pest_cntrl.htmhttp://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/pollinators/friendlypractices.shtml
http://pollinator.org/pollinators.htm

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[ It’s Our 1Thing for August…. ]

TwoYellowBees-591x218

Bees pollinate a significant portion of the food we grow and eat. In North America alone, honey bees pollinate nearly 95 kinds of fruits, including almonds, avocados, cranberries and apples. We can thank honey bees for one in three bites of food we eat.
We all rely on bees – and the pollination services they provide – every day.

What’s happening to bees?
In recent years, bees have been dying off in droves. First in France in the mid-1990s, then in the U.S. and elsewhere, colonies have been mysteriously collapsing with adult bees disappearing, seemingly abandoning their hives.
In 2006, about two years after this phenomenon hit the U.S., it was named “Colony Collapse Disorder,” or CCD. Each year since, commercial beekeepers have reported annual losses of about a third, with some saying they’ve lost up to 70% or more of their bees in a year. Such losses are unprecedented, and more than double what is considered normal.
Much has been made over the “mystery” surrounding CCD, but two points of consensus have emerged:
1. Multiple, interacting causes are in play – key suspects include pathogens, habitat loss and pesticides; and

2. Immune system damage is a critical factor that may be at the root of the disorder.

Impacts of systemic pesticides
A new class of systemic, neurotoxic pesticides – neonicotinoids – is known to be particularly toxic to bees. And since their introduction in the 1990s, neonicotinoids have rapidly taken over the global insecticide market.
Neonicotinoids like imidacloprid and its successor product clothianidin are used as seed treatments in hundreds of crops from corn to almonds, as well as in lawn care and flea products. These products can persist for years in the soil, and, as systemics, permeate the plants to which they are applied to be expressed as pollen, nectar and guttation droplets (like pesticide dew).
In other words, this class of pesticides is nearly pervasive, and honey bees are exposed in many different ways.

The ripple effect of Colony Collapse Disorder
U.S. commercial beekeepers report that their industry is on the verge of collapse, and farmers who rely on pollination services are increasingly concerned. It’s unlikely that such a collapse will directly result in a food security crisis, but crop yields would decline significantly. With most fruits, many vegetables, almonds, alfalfa and many other crops all dependent upon bees for pollination, the variety and nutritional value of our food system is threatened.
In addition to their agricultural value as pollinators, honey bees are a keystone, indicator species. Their decline points to (and will likely accelerate) broader environmental degradation in a kind of ripple effect. Honey bees are sounding an alarm that we ignore at our peril.

Decisive action is overdue
Governments in Europe and elsewhere have already taken action to restrict the use of neonicotinoids and protect their pollinators. Yet regulators in the U.S. remain paralyzed, apparently captive to industry-funded science and a regulatory framework that finds chemicals innocent until proven guilty.
It seems that only massive public outcry will compel U.S. policymakers to take action on a timeframe that is meaningful for bees and beekeepers. With one in every three bites of food dependent on honey bees for pollination, the time for decisive action is now.

Pesticide Action Network North America (PAN North America, or PANNA) works to replace the use of hazardous pesticides with ecologically sound and socially just alternatives. As one of five PAN Regional Centers worldwide, we link local and international consumer, labor, health, environment and agriculture groups into an international citizens’ action network. This network challenges the global proliferation of pesticides, defends basic rights to health and environmental quality, and works to ensure the transition to a just and viable society.

For more information as to how you can help the bees, or for more info on The Pesticide Action Network: www.panna.org/about

Support The Pesticide Action Network by donating here.

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[ Save the Bees! (and all pollinators too!) ]

It’s no secret that bees and other pollinators play an enormous role in our environment and ecosystem, but what exactly is pollination? According to Wikipedia, “Pollination is the process by which pollen is transferred from the anther to the stigma of the plant, thereby enabling fertilization and reproduction.” In other words, it is what allows a plant to flower or produce fruit, nuts or vegetables. Everything from celery to apples, to strawberries, melons and squash require pollination in order for food to be produced. Coffee is on the list too! What would happen without your morning coffee? With the decline in pollinators, a coffee-free world could become a reality.
Bees make more than just honey happen. And their numbers are declining. There are many thoughts as to why, but there are also lots of ways you can help save the bees, and other pollinators. Sometimes thought of as pests, bees, birds, bats, butterflies, moths and even flies are all considered pollinators. And it’s not that difficult to help save them!
Simple ways to help:
• Help create a habitat in your community. Even a tiny spot in your yard can be designated to be a bee or bird habitat.
• Plant native flowers and plants. Bees are not attracted to exotic species, so that bird of paradise on your deck won’t do them any good. Try planting lupines, echinacea, penstemon, Rocky Mountain bee plant, black eyed susans, elderberry or indian grass in your garden. The list is long of native plants that will grow in Colorado. http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/columngw/gr130420.html
• Cluster plantings of native flowers together to ensure continuous blooms.
• Avoid pesticides and yard chemicals as much as possible! One possible theory of the disappearance of the honeybee is from neonicotinoids, a pesticide, which confuses the bees nervous system and they are unable to find their way back to their hive, and they drop dead from exhaustion. Other garden pesticides can affect bees and other pollinators too.
• Try organic pest and weed control techniques. Handpick worms and caterpillars off your vegetables in the garden, plant marigolds or calendula to act as a deterrent, or use plain white vinegar as a weed killer (spray in the morning on a sunny day). DIshsoap or dishsoap with oil in water sprayed on plants helps with aphids and other bugs (do not use in direct sun). http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/garden/xcm221.pdf
• Keep the garden healthy from the beginning! Strong plants will help attract beneficial bugs and detract from the bad. Rotate your crops so the soil can recover. Use compost to enhance the soil, not chemical synthetic fertilizers. (Be cheap and save your food scraps and make your own compost! http://www.ext.colostate.edu/mg/gardennotes/246.html ) Pull unhealthy or diseased plants out immediately.
• Provide shelter for the bees and other pollinators. They need shelter from the wind and adverse conditions near food sources, trees or ‘shelterbelts’. Old logs, old foliage from plants (wait until spring to clean up), open patches of dirt and even a simple block of untreated wood with holes drilled in it can be a new nest for a bee. Make sure there is water nearby too! Bird baths can be too deep, so add some marbles or rocks to it so bees, butterflies and baby birds can get a drink without drowning. Remember to fill daily!
• Next spring, try sprouting your own seeds too. Too often plants from the big stores are loaded with pesticides that affect the bees. More stores are starting to change, so look for petitions on line to encourage your favorite store to make its bee friendly plants really bee friendly!
• Shop your local farmers market and buy organic whenever possible. Both practices help protect the environment that we, and the pollinators, live in.
• Celebrate National Honeybee Day on August 16. Learn more about bees, honey, bee husbandry and more at your local farmers market, local beekeeper or www.nationalhoneybeeday.com.

Sources:
http://www.ext.colostate.edu/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_crop_plants_pollinated_by_bees
http://www.abnativeplants.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/plants.search/index.htm?adid=45600
http://eartheasy.com/grow_nat_pest_cntrl.htm
http://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/pollinators/friendlypractices.shtml
http://pollinator.org/PDFs/NAPPC.NoFear.brochFINAL.pdf

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