What’s the healthiest diet on the planet? A whole-foods, plant-based one, of course! But here’s something to think about: This wholesome diet will become severely restricted if something isn’t done to save the many bees that take it upon themselves to pollinate the natural foods that serve our bodies so well.
Bees greatly assist us and our way of life by pollinating approximately 250,000 different plant species, and we rely on them to help produce a whopping 70 percent of the top 100 food crops that we grow and eat. Without these worker bees, it would be extremely difficult, time-consuming, and expensive to bring these crops to fruition. But a recently completed comprehensive review by the Center for Biological Diversity of more than 4,000 native bee species in North America and Hawaii found that at least 749 of these species are in a serious state of decline, and one in four are considered “imperiled and at increasing risk of extinction.”
Do you enjoy eating almonds, avocados, apples, blueberries, watermelon, oranges, peaches, and cucumbers? How about cooking with onions? Or carving up pumpkins each Halloween? All of these, and more, could soon be out of our reach, and even lost for good, if we don’t immediately get to work to save these bees.
Rampant use of pesticides, particularly neonicotinoids, is largely responsible for the colony collapse disorder that is infiltrating and killing off entire bee colonies (and harming our own health, too!). So first and foremost, avoid using any pesticides in your garden or on your lawn. Also choose to buy and eat only organic produce, which is healthier for us anyway.
Next, fill your yard with flowering fruit trees like cherry, Royal Gala apple, peach, and nectarine, as well as blackberry, blueberry, elderberry, and raspberry shrubs, and include cucumbers, onions, chives, melons, broccoli, radishes, cauliflower, pumpkins and other squash in your garden. Also plant bee-friendly flowers like hollyhocks, echinacea, and Shasta daisies, and bee-friendly herbs like borage, catnip, dill, lemon balm, mint, lavender, sage, rosemary, basil, marjoram, and thyme.
In addition, we need to work together as a nation to protect these species before it’s too late. Several concerned organizations, like the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, have been pushing hard to get Endangered Species protections for the various species in decline, and they have managed to secure those protections for one species so far: the Hylaeus Bees of Hawaii. There was also a lot of hope for the Rusty Patched Bumble Bee here on the mainland, which was selected to be added to the Endangered Species list in January; however, the Trump administration delayed that listing right before it was finalized. So, before you go and get busy in your own garden, please take a moment to also sign this petition asking that Endangered Species protections be granted to the Rusty Patched Bumble Bee as originally planned, and don’t forget to speak out for all other bee species that also need saving.
Finally, let’s all also work locally to establish bee sanctuaries, like the folks in Cedar Rapids, Iowa recently achieved by setting aside 1,000 acres specifically to help bees.
Image source: Teetawat Chuaichat/Shutterstock