It's been in the news for years now: The decline of pollinators such as honeybees and butterflies, and how it's upsetting our world's healthy ecosystem. We need pollinators for the growth of many of the foods we eat each day. Some scientists estimate that one in three bites of food we take result from the work of pollinators. Berries, apples, oranges, almonds and scores of other foods, not to mention flowers, rely on pollinators. If they disappear, those foods will fade along with them.
So, why are pollinators declining? They can't find enough food because their habitats are disappearing.
Fortunately, we can all help protect pollinators. Want to attract pollinators to your yard and help them thrive? Here are some tips.
Make your garden pollinator friendly. Nectar and pollen-packed plants attract honeybees, butterflies, hummingbirds and other pollinators. Choose colourful flowers, such as alyssum, aster, delphinium, flax, lavender, liatris, lupine, phlox or zinnia. Check with your local garden store for native plants and flowers that thrive in your climate and choose a range of plants that bloom in different seasons.
Encourage neighbours to do the same. If one pollinator-friendly garden is good, a network of them dotting your neighbourhood is better. This could provide enough habitat and resources to help restore and bolster the pollinator population in your community.
Control pests in your garden. Insects and mites can bring disease and destruction to your garden, undoing all of the good you're trying to do for pollinators. Use native plants whenever possible. They usually require less pesticide than plants from other zones.
Provide shelter. Bees and butterflies need shelter, so make sure your yard has some cozy nesting sites, like leaves, moss, piles of grass or a patch of yard you just let go wild. Also, check out bee houses in your neighbourhood garden store. They're artistic and fun, and they provide bees with shelter for their offspring to thrive.
Don't forget the water. Your garden will provide the nectar and pollen. But bees, birds and butterflies need water, too. A decorative bird bath, water feature or even a shallow rain catcher will give your buzzing friends the water they need.
Instal a hummingbird feeder. Imagine sitting outside with your first cup of coffee in the morning and watching those magical hummingbirds dart around the feeder. You'll be nourishing your garden and your spirit at the same time.
By providing pollinators with friendly habitats, backyard gardeners can help these vital components in our ecosystem regain a foothold.