Bee the Change: 10 Simple Steps to Save Bees
Adapted from the Friends of the Earth blog
Bees and other pollinators are essential parts of the food system, and are necessary for about 75% of our global food crops. Honey bees also contribute over $15 billion to the US economy.
That’s why EarthShare member Friends of the Earth was so alarmed to discover that between April of 2016 and March of 2017, beekeepers lost a stunning 33.2% of their bee colonies. This follows a recent trend of alarming bee population decline.
Neonicotinoids, the most commonly used class of insecticides, are a key factor in bee declines. The Environmental Protection Agency is responsible for reviewing and evaluating the dangers of all pesticides; unfortunately, proposed budget cuts threaten the future of such programs.
“Without protections from an adequately funded EPA, beekeepers stand little to no chance of getting the help they need, and this dire problem will only get worse,” said Tiffany Finck-Haynes, food futures campaigner with Friends of the Earth. “With bee populations declining at such an alarming rate, the EPA should be getting more funding, not less, to protect our critical pollinators.”
The Good News is that we can each do our part to save the bees and other pollinators we count on for one of every three bites of food we eat. Want to help? Commit to one (or more!) of these ten actions to be a pollinator champion:
- Call Congress. The EPA is tasked with ensuring all Americans have access to clean air and water, is already operating with limited funds. They also regulate the pesticides that are killing bees. Call your members of Congress and tell them to preserve EPA funding.
- Ask your city to pass pollinator protection policies. Friends of the Earth and the Responsible Purchasing Network released a guide called Buyers Bee-Ware to help you make a difference in your community. Encourage your city to follow the example of places like Eugene, OR that have passed neonicotinoid bans.
- Plant native vegetation to attract pollinators using the Xerces Society’s “Pollinator Friendly Plant Lists.” This step will increase the biodiversity of your yard or garden while providing forage for bees, butterflies and birds.
- Mow the lawn less often to let clover and other flowering weeds grow. These will provide a nutritious habitat for bees and other pollinators. Avoid products that are meant to kill these beneficial plants.
- Grow organic. Avoid fungicides, insecticides and other toxic pesticides whenever possible in your yard. To control weeds, use mechanical methods (like barriers or physical removal) and biological methods (like placing nematodes and other microorganisms in your garden).
- Buy organic. Buying organic products ensures that you are not consuming neonics or promoting their use. Organic farms support up to 50% more pollinators than conventional farms.
- Educate your neighbors. Circulate educational materials to teach your peers why pollinators are so important and encourage others to adopt bee-friendly behaviors.
- Provide nesting sites for bees. Giving pollinators nesting and living space on your property. Ask your local beekeepers association for advice and instructions.
- Relocate (rather than destroy) hives. Contact a removal service or a local beekeeping organization to help with hive removal if it is becoming a safety hazard on your property.
- Advocate for green rooftops in your city. Green rooftops are a great way to create pollinator habitat in urban areas! Ask your city council to provide incentives for residents to make their rooftops diverse, pollinator-friendly habitat to support these critical species.