THE IMPORTANCE OF POLLINATORS
by Claudia Broman from Stronger Together
A simple lunchtime meal could look drastically different without bees. We can thank these pollinators for about one out of every three bites of food we eat, including many of our favorite fruits like blueberries, peaches, blackberries, grapefruit, raspberries, oranges, pears and plums.
As pollinators, bees flitting around apple orchards and cranberry bogs move pollen from the male parts of trees and plants to the female parts. This shift of pollen allows the flowers to produce fruit. Many crops, like almonds, avocados, cucumbers and even onions, wouldn't produce much, if anything, without the help of bees. In the U.S. alone, bee pollinators annually contribute to about $20 billion of products people use every day. Recent scientific studies show that bee pollination is directly connected to human health.
People need to consume a variety of nutrients to stay healthy. Globally, the crops that provide these nutrients vary widely from place to place, with developing regions of the world being more dependent on particular fruits and vegetables than others.
Were these crops to fail on account of a decline in pollinators, it could result in a global malnutrition problem.
Unfortunately, researchers have seen declines in the success of wild and commercial bee colonies over the past 50 years. This drop in bee numbers in the U.S. is attributed in part to an increase in private and commercial pesticide use. Other conditions contributing to the struggling numbers are habitat loss due to development, monoculture agriculture (growing just one crop, like corn, year after year), animal grazing and the introduction of non-native insect species. Cumulatively these conditions have crop farmers concerned about whether there will be enough honeybees to pollinate their fields, and beekeepers concerned about collapsing honeybee colonies.
Despite the challenges honeybees are facing, there is hope. Scientists confirm that the diverse ecosystems found on organic farms provide friendly places for bees to nest and roam. Organic farmers often grow more than one type of crop which provides bees with a varied and nutritious diet, and they don't use the types of synthetic pesticides that have been connected with bee population declines. Organic farms are helping the bees that eaters rely upon for meals every day, whether a person chooses to eat organic food or not.
Reposted with permission from www.strongertogether.coop
POLLINATORS ARE THE FUTURE OF FOOD
If pollinators disappeared from the planet, even beef and dairy products would be scarce, because pollinators are vital to crops that feed cattle and other grazing animals. From apples and almonds to strawberries and tomatoes, many of our most beloved foods depend on pollinators. There’s a link below that will show you the number of flowers and foods that will be scarce without bees.
MEET THE BEE’S FRIENDS
Other types of pollinators work alongside bees, helping to maintain the diversity of plant life and playing crucial roles in our ecosystem. Meet some of the honey bee's fascinating friends - bumblebee, monarch butterfly, hawk moth, firefly and hummingbird. Honey bees pollinate more than 100 types of crops in the US - but they can't do it alone.
A FEW WORDS ABOUT ALMONDS
Farming monoculture, in which land is devoted solely to one crop (e.g., almonds), makes it hard for pollinators to find year-round food and means that almonds and other crops are increasingly dependent on commercial bees that are trucked from one crop to another. Almonds are dependent on honey bees and other pollinators to bear fruit.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
Reach out to Ben Warren in Customer Service at the co-op who has a history of beekeeping! He has agreed to provide his work email and a bit about his background as a resource for our cooperative community to learn more about beekeeping and how you can start your own bee journey. If you have any questions please reach out to Ben here: firstname.lastname@example.org
I have been beekeeping for less than a year. Unlike most businesses, and perhaps a select group of homeowners with the same hobby or profession, I did not have the space to keep my bees on my property. I spent weeks scouting a home to set up my hive and eventually found a quiet spot in the woods.
Now the woods are not the ideal placement for a hive: the sun takes longer to wake up the bees and there is a greater chance of animals trying to weasel into the honeycomb. BUT so far I have not had any issues with my hive and it's a very beautiful space among the trees.
For the first few weeks, I had one box for brood, a special frame to hold simple syrup while the flowers were still blooming, and a foundation to keep the hive elevated off the ground. As the summer progressed I added another hive body (for hive growth), removed the special frame and then added a honey super: the box you collect honey from. I acquired ratchet straps to lock the boxes together just in case something tries to snag a taste of honey (I'm lookin' at you, Ursula).
I didn't harvest any honey this year, I probably could have but a hive needs around 70 pounds of honey to support themselves over the winter. Collecting honey will be a special treat next year, but I just want them to be happy and healthy.
Buying local honey products not only increases demand for our local honey companies which help these businesses as there is no middleman at the co-op but supporting local hives keeps them sustained and in turn helps out the bee population.
Make Your Own Bee Hotel
Mason Bees in particular appreciate dry housing within their habitats to help them survive harsh climates. There are really nice bee hotels made of wood and other materials, however you can use the DIY article below to make your own out of bamboo and an aluminum can. If you don’t have bamboo, you can easily use rolled up pieces of paper glued together to get the same effect!
But be careful of false information, it’s always helpful to spread information to your friends, family and co-workers, however make sure it’s accurate! We have provided social media graphics and a cheat-sheet consolidating this post into one document.
SUPPLIER PARTNERS FOR POLLINATORS
Red Barn Honey Company
43 Fort Hill Terrace
Northampton, MA 01060
North Hadley Sugar Shack
181 River Drive
Hadley, MA 01035
1) DIY Mason Bee Hotel: https://www.naturalbeachliving.com/mason-bee-habitat/
2) Pollination Information: https://thehoneybeeconservancy.org/pollinators/
3) List of Pollinated Food: https://www.pollinator.org/list-of-pollinated-food
Social Media Graphics
Download the Cheat-Sheet Below