The death of 25,000 bumblebees in Wilsonville, Oregon, can be read as a sure sign of things to come if we don’t all pitch in to help save the bee population.
Here are ways you can help protect bees, and, in turn, our global food supply.
1. Stop using chemical pesticides.
There are many reasons to avoid the use of chemicals in your lawn and garden. By killing off insects deemed pests, you also endanger the helpful predators on your lawn, such as ladybugs and lacewings, and the birds that will happily eat your “pesky” bugs for you. Chemical pesticides are one of the major reasons for the decline in the bee population, and without bees, who’s going to pollinate your plants? Are you planning on manually completing this task? When bees come through your yard, they are providing a free gardening service. Think of it as a work safety issue – don’t poison your labor (the birds, the bees, and their friends).
Also, if you are growing a fruit or vegetable garden, do you really want to ingest chemicals designed to kill living things?
2. Provide habitats for bees.
When looking for information on how to encourage bumblebees in our garden, I found an article with that very same title.
Apparently, my overworked husband and I have been doing the right thing already without even trying. According to the author, “[W]hat do you do if you want bumblebees in your garden? You need to provide three types of habitat — foraging, nesting, and hibernating. […T]he easiest solution is just to leave some areas of your yard completely alone to grow into native plants and provide a natural nesting and hibernating ground.”
So great news, you don’t have to do anything to help with this part! Just let your lawn do what it wants. Job #2: Done, my friends.
And honestly, which is prettier:
(Picture taken from article entitled “Lawn Mower Injuries a Growing Problem“: “More than 200,000 adults (and some 17,000 children) were treated for lawn mower injuries [in 2010] – a 3 percent increase over 2009 numbers.” Ick!)
Or a yard full of this:
3. Get involved.
The other major threat to bees is lack of corporate accountability. Even Russia recognizes the dangers of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), and scientists globally have acknowledged the danger of GMO crops for bees and human consumption. Considering all that energy you have saved by not spraying your lawn with pesticides and not having to mow it, take a minute to write your local government representatives about your concern for the environment. Heck, don’t even bother typing anything more than CTRL+C to copy this content and CTRL+V to paste it into an email. Sign your name at the bottom of the letter if you really want to put some effort into the cause.
“Dear Representative/ Senator/ President/ [Insult Deleted] Exec at Monsanto,
I am concerned about the negative impact that Monsanto’s GMO crops have had on the global bee population and will have on the human population as a result. Much scientific research has pointed to the fact that GMOs are bad for the environment, and many European countries have already taken steps to eliminate this threat for their own populations. The fact that our nation has not yet taken steps to ban these crops, let alone label them, coupled with the ethical concerns about the profiteering by US politicians who have protected Monsanto’s investments, should not be taken lightly. I urge you to help protect our environment. Protect our bees, and protect us.
A Concerned Citizen,
[Your Name Here]”
Here is Monsanto’s contact information, although it is probably more useful to contact legislators.
For example, you can send your thanks to Senator Jeff Merkley from Oregon for working to overturn the Monsanto Protection Act. Here is his contact information. I even wrote a letter you can send to him just by copying and pasting:
“Dear Senator Merkley,
Regarding your actions on the Monsanto Protection Act:
A Concerned Citizen”
4. Stop singing the “Bumblebee Song.”
Our toddler has been coming home from her Christian daycare for the last several weeks doing what I thought was an awkward attempt at prayer. (As agnostics, you can imagine our concern.) However, walking into her daycare the other day, I realized it’s much worse: she’s been trying to emulate the squishing motion of the song, “Baby Bumblebee”.
It’s a song about the innocent slaughter of a baby. A baby bumblebee. The song promotes MURDER!
Obviously censorship might be one step over the line. My point is we have a responsibility to the younger generation to teach them compassion and respect for our environment. I admit, I am intensely afraid of many kinds of bugs, but I am working to change my initial knee-jerk reaction to spiders (KILL IT WITH FIRE!) into the thoughtful act of ushering them outside (if I’m home by myself, otherwise, it’s someone else’s duty).
We need to teach our kids about the vast inter-connections of the ecosystem. It’s not a task we should leave up to the school system (and apparently not our seemingly innocent and kind daycare director!) because kids are more impacted by what WE teach them outside the classroom. Play outside, explain the important role insects, like bees, play in protecting our environment, and teach children about the long-term dangers of using quick fixes such as pesticides to kill the ones that we consider “nuisances”.
Let’s work together to protect our little buzz-y friends, and they’ll protect us.