Working out in the garden this week, I noticed yet again that while I’m seeing plenty of bumblebees and wasps, honeybees (and even butterflies) are few and far between. I’ve done everything within my ability to make my yard and garden as pollinator-friendly as possible. No pesticides, no herbicides, lots of bee-friendly native plants, a shallow dish of water, etc. But despite my best efforts, there is still a long ways to go. We need more homeowners joining in this effort to restore our bee population. We need to increase the awareness that “as go the bees, so goes our food supply.” [Side note: Benjamin Vogt has a terrific blog on the subject of using native plants and helping support our native pollinators]
On my first trip of the season to Lowes earlier this spring, I found the very front of their lawn and garden area stacked full of RoundUp and other chemical sprays that are deadly to pollinators (same is true of Home Depot). I shook my head, and decided I would avoid going to the big box stores as much as possible for gardening supplies (I find the smaller, local independent garden centers are more aware of issues like what’s happening to bees, and don’t push chemicals as much). It got me thinking…as gardeners, we need to be activists and advocates for wildlife and insects who provide us 90% of our food. We need to get our society asking the question, “Is this totally manicured, perfect green lawn worth the price of only having corn and wheat products to eat?” We cannot simply continue using chemicals in our lawns and gardens and not expect consequences. Let’s make a commitment to reversing this chemical culture and getting back to gardening and growing in harmony with nature.