honeycolony.com By Lynn Hasselberger, The Green Divas April 23, 2014
From apples to almonds, to the pumpkin in our pumpkin pies, we have honeybees to thank for nearly everything we eat. Now, however, they are dying worldwide thanks to a condition known as Colony Collapse Disorder, and consequently, the world’s food supply is also at risk.
In the U.S. alone, more than 25 percent of the managed honeybee population has disappeared since 1990. Bees are one of myriad animals, including birds, bats, beetles and butterflies, called pollinators. Pollinators transfer pollen and seeds from one flower to another, fertilizing plants so they can grow and produce food. Cross-pollination helps at least 30 percent of the world’s crops and 90 percent of our wild plants thrive. Without bees to spread seeds, many plants — including food crops — would die off, according to NRDC Bee Facts.
Moreover, in the last half decade, 30 percent of the U.S.’s national bee population has disappeared, meaning nearly a third of all bee colonies in the U.S. have perished. According to an article in Newsweek, a study published last year found 35 pesticides and fungicides, some at lethal doses, in pollen collected from bees that were used to pollinate food crops in five U.S. states. Bees that ate pollen contaminated with fungicides were found to be three times as likely to be infected by a parasite linked to colony collapse.
Of course, the major causes of CCD – including pesticide use and industrial beekeeping practices – might seem impossible for a single individual to fight. But there are small steps everyone can take to reverse the disastrous decline of our most important pollinator. And one of those steps is to increase the number of bees and other pollinators in your area by growing plants that provide essential habitats for these species.
To help you get your ‘Beedom Garden’ off on the right foot, then, here’s a list of 15 plants to consider growing if you’d like to help save the bees*:
- Lavandula spp. (Lavender)
- Rosemarinus officinalis (Rosemary)
- Salvia spp. (Sage)
- Echinacea spp. (Coneflower)
- Helianthus spp. (Sunflower)
- Cercis spp. (Redbud)
- Nepeta spp. (Catnip)
- Penstemon spp. (Penstemon)
- Stachys spp. (Lamb’s ears)
- Verbena spp. (Verbena)
- Phacelia spp. (Bells or Phacelia)
- Aster spp. (Aster)
- Rudbeckia spp. (Black-eyed Susan)
- Origanum spp. (Oregano)
- Achilliea millefolium (Yarrow)
*Note: It’s best to grow native plants exclusively. Find a native-plant nursery in your area and download the BeeSmart app, which will guide you in selecting plants for pollinators specific to your area. Also, always be sure to purchase only plants and seeds that haven’t been pretreated with pesticides; such pretreatments are called, “systemic pesticides,” and have been shown to kill bees. Finally, be sure to avoid using pesticides completely while growing your ‘Beedom Garden,’ as many topical pesticides, as well as fungicides, insecticides and herbicides, are toxic to bees and humans alike.