Bees and the Food Supply: A Symbiotic Relationship
Christy Erickson, guest blogger, is the creator of SavingOurBees.org.
Strawberries, apples, watermelon: we get these wonderful fruits, and nearly 70 other delicious foods and countless resources, through the help of bees. Believe it or not, these tiny animals are a huge influence on our food supply. However, too many bees are disappearing and with fewer bees, the impact on our food supply could be devastating.
Yes, bees really are that important. With more than 700 bee species heading towards extinction, this is a serious problem. Thankfully, there are a few ways you can help support bees. First, it’s important to understand exactly why bees are so important to the food supply.
A Dwindling Produce Section
Crops don’t just magically grow each year. The plants need to be fertilized with pollen, which is why bees are so important. As Healthy Living explains, bees are responsible for pollinating over one-third of the food supply. They’re so essential that farmers rent bees from beekeepers to help pollinate crops of stone fruits, berries, almonds, pumpkins, and even alfalfa, which is used to feed cattle. And although there are some other animals that pollinate, bees are by far the most widespread and effective.
The loss of bees spells disaster for the global food supply. At first, supplies of these foods could dwindle, driving up the price. Eventually, grocery stores could completely run out of these healthy foods because there are no new crops growing.
So what can you do to help protect bees and the food supply? You can start by creating a bee-friendly garden. Whether you create an expansive garden in your backyard or just place a few pots to your patio, adding flowering plants to your outdoor space gives bees a more diverse supply of nectar and pollen which in turn helps them thrive. If you’re not sure where to start when it comes to gardening, check out this article.
Beverly Bees has an excellent article explaining how to create such a garden, and here are a few tips that stand out:
- Choose plants native to your area. And it doesn’t need to be just flowers, since many fruit and vegetable plants also flower.
- Create groups of the same plant to make it easier for bees to find them.
- Provide a source of water. Bees have to drink water like all animals, so a little puddle near the garden will attract more.
- Go with plants that bloom at different times of the year. This will provide a food source for bees throughout the part of the year they’re active.
While a great bee-friendly garden will have at least one square yard of plants, that’s not absolutely necessary. If you live in an apartment, for example, you can add some flowers to a window box or set some pots outside. Even just a few flowering plants can help.
For more tips, check out this previous blog post on cultivating a pollinator paradise.
Once you have your garden in place, there are a few other ways you can help bees and the food supply. CNN explains that pesticides can poison bees even if they don’t land directly on the sprayed plants. Limiting or eliminating pesticides creates a safer environment for the bee population in your area.
You can also buy more organic foods. Organic foods are not treated with any pesticides. When you support local organic farmers, you make it more attractive financially for other farmers to skip pesticides and save more bees. Seek out hyper-local produce from farmer’s markets in your town.
Save the Bees, Save the World
Because bees pollinate so many crops, they’re responsible for around one-third of our food supply. Without them, the global food supply will suffer. Thankfully, you can help them thrive by reducing pesticide use, supporting organic farmers, and creating a bee-friendly garden. By helping the bees, we help ourselves and the community at large, making it a win-win situation for everyone.