It’s long been known that bees and other pollinators are vital species. They disproportionately affect our environment relative to their numbers, and they’re critical in maintaining healthy ecosystems. More than a third of our food crops and three-quarters of the world’s flowering plants depend on animal pollinators to propagate. Just having bees around increases crop yield, and with more than 150 food crops in the US depending on pollinators, which makes them incredibly important.
Studies are increasingly showing that there is a drastic decline in insect populations worldwide. Some of the other key factors putting them at risk are pesticides, habitat loss, parasites and disease, monoculture farming, and the changing climate. Alarmingly, several bee varieties have been added to the endangered species list, joining other important pollinators like bats, birds, butterflies, and moths. With two-thirds of North American birds are considered at an increased risk of extinction from rising global temperatures.
To support these critical species, we can still take action by buying organic food, avoiding pesticides and herbicides in our yards, and favoring nontoxic pest-control methods. If you have to use pesticides, remember to read the label; some pesticides can harm bees. Only use chemicals at night, when pollinators are least active. If you want to provide bees with a home, buy a mason bee or butterfly house, choose those you can dismantle and clean properly to protect nesting pollinators from parasites. Help them out by offering supplemental food sources with bird feeders. Provide fresh, clean water in birdbaths, bee baths, and dishes containing moist, sea-salted sponges to provide butterflies’ nutrients. Use bird-friendly window coverings to prevent collisions; you can learn more at www.abcbirds.org. Or become a citizen scientist by helping advocacy groups count pollinators. Please spread the word about pollinators’ plight and why this is so important; advocate for environmentally-friendly policies; and support conservation groups and societies.