By now, you’ve probably heard that honey bees and other pollinator populations are in serious decline. You may have even heard that pollinators are essential to food security. But what exactly does that mean?
Allow me to translate this complex ecological issue into terms that we food lovers can really understand: Bees pollinate many of our favorite summer foods, including berries, melons, squash and peppers. They’re also responsible for many of the clover and alfalfa that feed beef and dairy cows. Without pollinators, summer barbecues and picnics would be very bland.
If you’ve ever planted a summer vegetable garden, you understand the crucial role that pollinators play in summer’s bounty. I can’t tell you how many times my watermelon vines have flowered but haven’t set fruit because no pollinators visited during the fleeting hours when the blooms are open for business.
What You Can Do
There are plenty of things that food lovers can do to put the brakes on pollinator decline.
To help promote healthy ecosystems, choose organic foods for your table and organic seeds and seedlings for your garden. Organic plants are grown without toxic persistent pesticides that may be harmful to pollinators.
If you have a garden at home, school or office, plant bee habitat, i.e. native flowers with different shapes, colors and bloom times.
Finally, try to preserve some brush piles and bare patches of ground to help native bees dig nests.
To learn more about pollinator preservation, check out our nonprofit partner, the Xerces Society.
Recipes for Pollinator Appreciation
The way to a food lover’s heart is through her or his stomach. Here are a few recipes that will make you appreciate bees and ignite your passion for pollinator preservation.
Fresh Melon Salsa
Do you have a favorite recipe that relies on pollinators? Share the buzz in the comments section below.