Attract Pollinators And Protect The Bees This Spring
March 13, 2018
I want to tell you a story about my journey with nature and how it led to a reverence for bees and the outdoors in general. And then I will share with you some new research and concrete ways you can attract pollinators and protect bees this Spring.
I remember planting young trees in the yard with my mother some time between the age of 4-5. When we had to move when I was 6 the only thing I really thought of wistfully was leaving the plum tree we had planted. At the next place we moved to, my mother was on her own. She planted a garden filled with tomatoes, corn, potatoes and sunflowers. I remember the tall sunflowers and the wonder of digging for potatoes that had grown in the dirt under layers of hay. We lived there from the summer I turned 7 until I turned 9. All of my happiest and most vivid memories had to do with land, nature, being outside. I remember my mother feeding the birds, her bird book and binoculars. I remember how strong she was, strong enough to move refrigerators herself, with the help of a dolly, create large gardens, and start her own business. She gave the local Amish men rides to town in her Jeep. I would sit in the back with them, with the top off and the wind blowing in our faces. And we would visit their farm where I discovered the exquisite joy of homemade pumpkin pies. I especially remember the moments I spent outside alone, making mud-pies, collecting rocks, showing love to any beings I came across: a kitten, a toad, a giant ant, a walking stick. I remember feeling the sunshine upon me and as I sat on the ground between the field and the trees and stream….the sunshine felt like presence, love, and protection. Being free to create and interact with nature in a way that is safe and natural is where the understanding of beauty and reverence started for me. It was never inside a building.
And, when we moved for the third time in my life, we didn’t have that stretch of land and country anymore, but I had a small town of pine groves, small bluffs, marshes, and wild growing food, like chives to enjoy and connect with. Bicycling and walking along the wild parts of the town became my connection to nature from 3rd grade and until I graduated from high school. I found the old oak tree to sit under, and the canopy of pines that was an imaginary house. I found the marsh land below the sloping hills that the houses were built on, that I could wander along in order to leave civilization, if only by 30-50 feet. I found the woods to wander in where all manner of birds and little critters called home. And we played in the huge field that glowed with stretches and stretches of dandelions. My mother started taking me to the food cooperative in town from time to time. And when we were in the city, we would go to the food cooperative there. I loved the natural yogurt with the tart layer of whole milk yogurt on top. I was fascinated at how people volunteered at that coop so that they could have organic and local food together.
Then, that time passed. I grew up. I moved again, this time on my own. I went to college, worked, and got to travel to different lands. I took all the landscapes in. And, I eventually got married, bought a house, and had a child. Through all the changes, the memory of the land and the connections I experienced there as a child are a part of me still. The moments/memories are vivid and alive within me.
At our first house as a married couple, with a child, I began my own organic yard and garden. I grew blackberries, strawberries, many herbs, flowers, carrots, greens, and created lots of cover for birds and other pollinators. I began to see how the bees flocked to the plants, and the birds sought out our yard like a sanctuary. I made sure to always provide water. I found ways to battle pests with beneficial insects. I never used an herbicide or pesticide, and dealt with the “mess” of a mulberry tree and birds happily. Our yard was a breeding ground for toads who grew fat eating all the mosquitos for us. For 13 years I kept that yard, until it was too much work and took too much time when combined with all the other demands of life in this society. At the end of the summer in 2013, we moved further into the city. And after over 20 years together, my husband and I have traveled enough to find that there are other parts of this Earth that still live vividly within us after visiting and communing with it: the ocean, shorelines on many shores, terrain we hiked and walked upon, farmland, forests, jungles. And the insects and other creatures and animals we encountered along the way reside in our hearts as well. All of it is there because the relationship is sacred. It is life. It is precious.
I remember back in the middle of the time, when we were living in that first house as married adults, for a while, I lost sight of my creative purpose and struggled to find it again. It was confusing to figure out who I was as a mother, wife, individual, and to also figure out how that fit inside of this society somehow…or not. Looking back, it is of no surprise to me now that what led me back to my creative purpose was outside, in nature. It most often is. It was photography. It was flowers. It was bees. It was in being present, and particularly the bees. The bees speak to me as sacred beings with a definite purpose on this Earth. They deserve respect and protection.
After you have read what I have written here so far, what are the memories of nature that bring you to life? What are the parts of nature and the beings within it that live still within you after many years? Surely there are animal companions that live within our homes that bring that nature inside to us. And they are sacred gifts in this life too. Animal companions are the inside connection for us to the life-giving presence of nature, water, air, and sunshine. A reminder to simply be, and that we are also a part of nature, and can find wellness there. But, we must respect and protect it. We must take actions each day to impact our environment positively. This is my passion, because it is life. It is sacred. It is priceless.
I invite you to step into your own passion within nature and your part in it. I want to encourage you to rebel against the outdated norms in this society that rigidly put in place practices that poison and degrade nature and the beings and resources that rely on her to be well and balanced.
As you walk in the sunshine this Spring, I invite you to be present to the sunshine, the birds, trees and all the life there. Take time to be and know that you are a part of all of it, and that nature witnesses you as you witness nature. There is wisdom and healing there. And, it can be mutual.
A tangible and worthwhile action, that I recommend is a movement against the use of pesticides and herbicides on lawns and plants, and a movement for organic and permaculture approaches to lawns, yards, and gardens.
Here is the information to encourage you to take concrete steps to help bees and other pollinators this Spring:
Today the USDA Forest Service reported that new research shows that “Mowing The Lawn Less Often Improves Bee Habitat.” Allowing clover, dandelions and other flowers to grow and bloom in the yard, provides bees with critically needed habitat. Mowing every three weeks seems to make a big difference to create enough biodiversity in the lawn habitat for bees.
Beekeepers in Wisconsin reported high bee losses this year. For the last 5-10 years this has been a disturbing trend. Pesticides, fungicides and mites are all a complex problem for beekeepers and are all threats to bee health. If this is something you want to explore or commit to, here is a basic organic beekeeping guide from Ontario. And, Natural Beekeeping by the Thrifty Homesteader is another helpful resource.
And, lastly here is a great guide for attracting beneficial insects and pollinators, like bees and butterflies, to your yard. To summarize: native plants (grown without pesticides) attract bees, butterflies and other pollinators, keep some bare unmulched ground available for bees that burrow, milkweed with aphids attracts beneficial insects, don’t disturb the top layer of soil in order to make it hospitable to beneficial beetles, plant in patches so that beneficial insects can navigate easily and safely, and also keep in mind that beneficial insects and other pollinators need shelter and water. Buying boxes of beneficial insects like lacewings to deal with pests can be helpful. Research what pollinators need help. Research what native plants will most help the pollinators you are aiming to help and protect. Research what they need for shelter and water. For example, bees require shallow water, or they will drown.
When you nurture and protect that which nurtures and protects you, you enter into a thriving relationship that can only help you to feel more fulfilled and alive. Each day there are little moments present that can be the opportunity to begin, to start again, and to continue.
CS Sherin, Recipe For A Green Life 2018© Please feel free to share this article–in its entirety with author, source credit, and this copyright notice–on social media and for non-commercial educational purposes only.