It’s no secret that two of the most vital creatures (not to mention among the most beautiful) are in dire straits. That would be the bees and butterflies, essential to pollination and thus, our food supply. Bees are dying by the millions, and butterfly habitats are getting wiped out.
Even if your green thumb leans more towards the “brown,” there are easy things that everyone can do to give a safe space to these wonderful little guys.
JUST ADD WATER
Bees and butterflies get thirsty too. Put out a shallow dish of water to attract them, with a few little rocks that will provide a place for them to rest and drink. A birdbath can serve the same purpose, but just remember to regularly dump and replace the water to avoid attracting mosquito larvae.
GO A LITTLE BIT WILD
Consider leaving a part of your garden or yard a little untouched. Resist the urge to pull every weed (things like clover and dandelions are great food for bees). Think of your garden as a habitat for wildlife; it can be pretty and help pollinators at the same time.
Pesticides are the number one killer of bees and butterflies. Additionally, they work their way into the pollen and nectar sources these creatures rely on. On that same note, look carefully at the plants you’re buying at your local garden center; about 51% of these commercially grown plants have been treated with pesticides. If the label reads “protected,” that translates to “chemicals used.” Opt for organically grown whenever possible.
Milkweed is the only food source for monarch butterflies, and also where they lay their eggs. With large swaths of land being taken over by Big Agriculture, milkweed is rapidly disappearing – and that’s resulted in a shocking 90% decline in monarchs. Milkweed tends to do well in most climate conditions; find seeds or cuttings and lend the butterflies a hand (or wing).
GET IN THE “ZONE”
Every part of the country has different climate and soil conditions which dictates what will best grow in your garden. Find your own pollinator plants here, and consider planting a variety of things that will bloom from spring to fall, with different shapes and colors. Also, planting in “clumps” makes it easier for bees and butterflies to find their lovely new plant helpers.
RENT THEM A ROOM
A “bee house” allows certain types of bees a safe place to lay their eggs and protect them from bad weather (it’s different from a beehive). Plus, there are some charming designs that will compliment your garden.
When it comes to doing your bit to help protect these vital pollinators, using these helpful tips will earn you a “Bee”-plus!