Lil’ Miss Bee Havin’
See Ya Later, Pollinator
Have you ever felt excluded from a group? You, me or the bees – it’s all the same, indeed. You see, with the recent bee crisis, most of the focus has been on the honeybees and the honey that they make. Honeybees, however, make up just one small part of the pollinator group.
Pollinators come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and include insects, birds and mammals. There are over 100,000 different kinds of animals that pollinate over 250,000 different kinds of plants. Can you believe that?! And to think that honeybees are just one group! They may pollinate up to one-third of our food, but think of what it would be like if the other two-thirds of our foods did not get pollinated and did not exist. Our grocery stores would look emptier than you even know – some shelves totally bare of anything, except for factory-produced, genetically modified ingredients that had been stuffed into a package for your eating pleasure.
Even if we stick to just the insect group, there are many different types of pollinators, which include honeybees, wild bees, wasps, ants, butterflies, moths, flies and even beetles! Honeybees make that deliciously sweet honey that everyone loves in some way or another — from honey in their tea, to sticky baklava, to the sweet nectar of the gods: mead. It’s so easy to be the golden child of the golden child of the pollinator world when you’re a honeybee. With the influx of interest in honeybees, a lot of people have started beekeeping and making homes for the bees. But what about the other pollinators? That wasp that’s buzzing around your soda can while you sit by the poolside, and those moths that beat their bodies against your lanterns, are all just out searching to find their own food and nesting spot. Those wasp nests that you’re knocking down along the eaves of your house? There goes their home! Did you know that it takes a wasp all summer to build its nest? And those moths and flies that are being zapped by your bug light? So much for them getting to pollinate another day.
Don’t be a hater on the pollinator!
Even the beloved butterflies are on the decline!
Growing up here in Santa Cruz, one of the momentous occasions of the year occurs in the Fall, when the monarch butterflies arrive while on their migration journey up from Mexico. Here in Santa Cruz, the monarch butterflies love to flock to Natural Bridges State Beach – which is a beautiful area full of just what the beautiful pollinators love: a peaceful home in the eucalyptus grove.
When I was a kid, I loved sitting out in my mom’s garden and enjoying the sight of the monarch butterflies feeding on her glorious, blue butterfly bush — along with all the other different pollinators that came to feast on its sweet pollen and nectar. Now when I go up and visit my childhood home, I still look out on the same garden that I used to frolic in, but I have noticed a huge difference in the amount of bees, butterflies and the plethora of other pollinators. They just are not around like they used to be.
Why are pollinators disappearing?
There may be many different reasons and factors for the pollinators’ decline, but one big reason can be attributed to the destruction of their homes and natural habitats, not to mention food sources.
You wouldn’t want someone coming along and taking away your home and stealing all your food, would you? It doesn’t sound like a very friendly thing to do, now does it? And shouldn’t we be friends with the creatures that help give us food?!
There are a couple of ways to be a friend and lending a helping hand to various pollinators, such as planting a pollinator garden, providing nesting sites, and avoiding or limiting pesticide use. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has some great tips here on how to make your home a pollinator paradise.
The pollinators have a hard enough time as it is, so don’t say “See ya later, pollinator!”
It’s time to remember all of the different creatures that pollinate our foods and assist in us being able to put food on our plates!