We all know about “the birds and the bees and the flowers and the trees,” but have you ever considered what pollinators’ famous role in reproduction means for your favorite foods?
Pollinators move pollen between flowers and thus ensure the development of seeds and fruits. In fact, they’re responsible for one out of every three bites of food we eat!
Although pollinators come in every shape and size, bees probably make the largest contribution to our daily lives. Bees pollinate more than 100 types of crops in the US—everything from almonds to zucchini. They’re also vital to the reproduction of clover and alfalfa, which feed grazing animals like cows and goats. But last winter was a bleak season for bees. According to the latest survey data, the average US beekeeper lost 45% of her colonies.
While some winter losses are to be expected (around 5–10% used to be the norm), this year’s numbers are part of a disturbing trend. Since 2006, when scientists and beekeepers began to notice mysterious bee die-offs, total annual losses have hovered around 30%.
The causes are complex—a May 2013 federal report identified multiple factors, including parasites, disease, poor nutrition and pesticides—but the consequences for food security are clear. The good news is, there are some simple steps you can take to help “bee the solution.”
Whole Foods Market® is passionate about raising awareness, taking action and helping our communities. We’ve teamed up with the Xerces Society, a nonprofit organization that protects wildlife through the conservation of invertebrates and their habitat, to bring you four simple ways to support pollinators:
- Plant a pollinator-friendly garden. Flowers provide the nectar and pollen resources that pollinators feed on. Growing pollinator-friendly flowers, shrubs and trees with overlapping bloom times will support pollinators from spring through fall.
- Create nest sites. Pollinators need a place to lay eggs and for larvae to grow. You can install bee-nesting blocks (or simply leave patches of bare ground and brush piles for native bees to occupy) and make homes for caterpillars by growing host plants for butterflies found in your area.
- Skip the spray. Pesticides are harmful to pollinators. This is especially true of insecticides, but herbicides can reduce food sources for pollinators by removing flowering plants from the landscape.
- Stop to chat. Talking to friends and neighbors about the importance of pollinators and their habitat will encourage more people to join in, which will help pollinators even more!
For more ways to help, visit www.xerces.org and look for “Share the Buzz” signs throughout the store on products from brands that support this cause. With their donations, the Xerces Society will provide bee-friendly tools and education to our farmer partners.
Looking for more ways to bee the solution? Check out our Share the Buzz action page.
What are you doing to help protect the pollinators? I'd love to hear about your efforts big and small!