The decline of bee populations is an issue that often gets overlooked. Seeing as they are tiny, wild, sometimes-stinging creatures who cannot be adopted from a shelter and cuddled – many people turn a blind eye to the plight of the bee. However, there are also those dedicating their lives to save these buzzing beauties, including this inspiring small town of Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Like all other living creatures on this planet, bees are affected by climate change and pesticides. They are also victim to habitat loss resulting from human overpopulation expanding onto their native territories. Flowers they once feasted upon have become increasingly sparse, and bee kingdoms are diminishing. Seeing this as a major problem, Cedar Rapids Park Superintendent, Daniel Gibbins, proposed an initiative to increase local bee habitats by 1,000 acres!
As we learned in our middle school science class, all members of a food chain are equally important. If one species is affected, the “chain reaction” eventually affects all other species as well. This is why even the tiniest of bees carries substantial importance to life on earth. Considering bees are responsible for pollinating 400 different agricultural plants, and honeybees and the other pollinators help produce approximately $19 billion worth of agricultural crops in the U.S., we owe these insects a whole lot of respect. Realizing this, Gibbins and his team have set about to help halt this rapid decline in bee populations.
The initiative plans to create 188 of those 1,000 acres of new bee habitats by the end of Spring 2017. They will do this be re-introducing 39 native wildflower and seven native grass species to their area. With their natural food sources more abundant, bee populations will hopefully rise. Where will all this land be? That is where the team got creative. They chose a number of unexpected areas in their city to plant this native flora. From rarely visited corners of the airport, parks and golf courses, to sewage ditches, and water retention basins, the town has been resourceful in creating these new habitats.
Cedar Rapids’ inspirational mission motivates us to do our part to help these fuzzy, buzzing friends of ours survive. Gibbins suggests that everyone can do help save the bee population in their own backyard or windowsill. By planting delectable, colorful flowers that bees enjoy and having cool wet soil rather than mulch, we can facilitate an environment that is welcoming and comfortable for bees. Of course, refraining from the use of pesticides and insecticides will greatly affect your garden’s visiting bees as well.
Cedar Rapids is a beautiful example of what can be done when a community comes together for a greater good. If you feel inspired by this story, consider creating a pollinator garden of your own and spread the word about the importance of bees!
Image Source: Maciej Olszewski/Shutterstock