To Bee or Not to Bee

Welcoming bees into our hearts and gardens

by Debbie Ballentine

long-horned bees

Male long-horned bees sleep in groups. Photo by Debbie Ballentine.

European honeybees were my first insect love affair at the age of 8. They don’t have big brains, but they communicate with each other and work towards a common cause. This seemed otherworldly to me as a young girl. Over time native bees and pollinators took the place of honeybees in my heart. (Sorry Apis mellifera, I was only 8.) I’m far from an expert, yet I delight in these pollinators. This drives me to learn and share what I learn.

Pollinators… who are they and what do they need

Although we might not think about it much, pollinators provide important services to humans and the ecosystem. They are critical to the survival of plants, animals and humankind. The European honeybee alone is responsible for pollinating more than a third of the food we eat. Most people are aware of the honeybee crisis, but honeybees aren’t the only ones in trouble. Other pollinators are in decline including butterflies, moths and native bees. The largest negative impact on pollinators is from habitat loss, habitat fragmentation and degradation, and pesticides. I believe we have the knowledge and resources to help pollinators. In my mind even the smallest home garden can play a role in our efforts to maintain pollinator populations. Continue reading