The Bee's Knees
Let’s talk about the birds and the bees! No, not that talk. Actual birds and actual bees are essential lynch pins in our food chain as pollinators. In their quest for food, and naturally doing what they do, pollinators move pollen among or between flowers so that plants can reproduce. Birds have the added ability to eat fruit and disperse seeds along the way. Butterfiles and the wind can also be counted as natural pollinators. Flowers and fruits have evolved their bright colours and sweet smells to attract these other organisms upon which plants depend to propagate.
Did you know that pollinating insects are endangered globally, and have seen a particularly steep decline over the last 40 years? This has the alarm bells ringing on the stability of our global food supply. Don’t despair, however, because there is ample research indicating that organic farming can help curb this trend. Lund University in Sweden found over a three-year study “that organic farming methods can contribute to halting the pollinator decline.” The journal of Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment has also concluded that “insect pollinated plants benefit from organic farming,” in its research. The Organic Trade Association‘s comprehensive report on pollinators gives a very good overview of the problem and some solutions, stating, “organic farming practices can provide critical solutions that not only decrease risks to pollinators, but actively support the growth and health of our pollinator populations.” There are a host of other scientific sources that also conclude that organic growing is the way to keep balance in nature and let pollinators do their jobs. Nonetheless, if you’re a Local Greens customer, chances are that you don’t have your own organic farm or research lab to contribute to this research (but if you do, please share with us!), but you can still support the cause. There are many simple projects your household can undertake to turn a summer’s afternoon into a creative haven for pollinators.
Most of the bees in the UK are in fact not bumblebees or honeybees, but solitary bees. This means that rather than living in colonies, they prefer to live on their own. Female bees will spend much of their lives searching for suitable nesting spots. These can be holes in the ground or hollow plant stems. You can create your very own habitat to make nesting life a bit easier on these mama bees. While the sun’s shining, get the kids or friends together to make a bee hotel that can rest in anyone’s garden, balcony or windowsill. The RSPB – Royal Society for the Protection of Birds – has this step-by-step guide to get hands on and crafty with a home for solitary bees. The Wildlife Trust has their own version, as does the Woodland Trust, both of which will turn a lazy day into a fun, sustainable group activity. Who knew that off-cuts of wood, bamboo stakes, hollow plant stems, paper straws, or reeds could be such inviting spaces?
If you prefer pollinators of the feathered variety, turn some household “rubbish” into a trendy birdfeeder. Apartment Therapy has ten top ideas to feed the birds using items in your home right now. Think twice before sending that disused tea set to the charity shop. Instead, give it to the birds by applying strong glue to the cup and saucer, fill it up with seeds, and let teatime commence. Entertain the little people in your life by transforming pinecones into all-natural feeders. Forage for local pinecones, apply a little peanut butter and a coating of birdseed, then sit back and marvel at the avian adventures that flap to your door. You can even save some juice cartons or wine crates from the recycling bin and fashion them into bird feeders. There are possibilities to match every skill level, style and décor. Channel your creative energy into one of these projects that is sure to attract a wonder of birdlife you didn’t even know flocked in your neighbourhood.
Lastly, if a hands-on project is too much for you, but you still want to give pollinators a leg up, there are many decorative, pre-built options that will get your garden buzzing. The RSPB is again a fantastic resource to shop for bird and bee kit; Etsy has a wide selection made by UK crafters, and there’s an entire shop dedicated to supporting the Mason solitary bee species.
Pollinators are the small, but mighty, workers of our food chain. Our health and survival is wrapped up in their health and survival, and there’s a good argument that we need them much more than they need us. Local Greens and its customers do a part by supporting organic farming, and you can bring the cause closer to home with a nesting or feeding place for your local bees and birds. They’ll think you’re the bee’s knees for it.