We need more pollinator habitat!

Both native pollinators and honey bees are in decline due to loss of foraging habitat and use of pesticides. Grow Food Amherst encourages everyone with a yard to leave 10% “go wild” for the bees to provide much needed habitat.  When your neighbors ask why you are not mowing part of your lawn, you can tell them about the loss of bees!
The Town of Amherst is in the process of creating a demonstration pollinator garden at the new Fort River Farm Conservation Area near the Fort River School.  Anyone who would like to help should contact Amherst Sustainability Coordinator, Stephanie Ciccarello.
The site of the Amherst Pollinator Garden.
The site of the Amherst Pollinator Garden.

 And here are instructions for maintaining your own meadow!

Blog posts about bees:

  1. Massachusetts “Plant Something” Campaign
  2. Leave 10% for the bees
  3. Amherst Bee Week – 2015

What about pesticides?

That’s simple…. don’t use them!   But for those of you who still choose to use pesticides to kill bugs in your garden, please be aware that you may be harming the bees (both native as well a honey bees).  According to UMass Extension, some things to consider are:

  • Do not treat crops or plants in bloom.  Never spray open flowers. Do not allow sprays to drift onto adjacent plants, weeds or inter plantings that are in bloom including ground covers and trees. Be especially careful when treating a bee-pollinated crop.
  • Use the least toxic pesticide.  Different formulations of pesticides often vary significantly in their toxicity to bees.  Dusts are much more hazardous than sprays, and wettable powders usually provide a significantly longer toxic hazard than emulsifiable concentrates because the dry particles cling better to the body hair of foraging bees.
  • Adjust pesticide applications in relation to weather conditions. For example, apply pesticides when drying conditions are good to limit the length of time of direct pesticide exposure to bees.
  • Apply pesticides when bees are not actively foraging or visiting plants.  Many insecticides can be applied in late evening, night or early morning with relative safety to bees.
  • Know where bee colonies are in your area.  Bees forage up to several miles searching out concentrations of flowers, plants shedding pollen and/or producing nectar. Contact beekeepers if you intend to make a pesticide application that may kill bees.
  • Do not place unmarked honeybee colonies adjacent to fields or orchards, which are likely to be treated.  Beekeepers should put their name, address, and phone number or approved identification number on hives.  Use print large enough to be read at some distance.

And tell the EPA to stop the use of bee killing pesticides!  Join with Environment Massachusetts in this email campaign here: STOP KILLING THE BEES!

For a report on the status of neonicontinoid pesticides, see: Beyond the Birds and the Bees.

Additional Resources

The Pollinator Puzzle – IPM Experts Seek Keys to Honey Bee Health – In 2006, managed honey bee colonies began to die off in large numbers without explanation. Scientists believe this problem may be caused by multiple factors, including disease, nutrition, genetics, parasites, pesticides, and other environmental stresses.

  • IPM and Pollinators – Coordinated Action – Government sponsors are coordinating the actions of researchers, educators, beekeepers, and growers in the field in ways that could help reverse pollinator decline.
  • Perspectives on the Pollinator Issue – The Northeastern IPM Center provides the following synopsis of two prevailing views on neonicotinoids and pollinators. Our goal is to bring this scientific discussion to your attention, not necessarily to promote either view.
  • New England Bees Have New Ally  – A group of professionals are protecting existing bee habitat on farms, open land, and in natural areas.
  • Resources on IPM and Pollinators – Resources from the April 2015 special issue of IPM Insights, all about pollinators.
  • Pollinator Losses in the Northeastern United States – One in every three bites of food is attributable to insect pollination. With insect pollinators so vital to food production, national and global reports of their decline are concerning.

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