The plight of pollinators has drawn widespread attention, and rightfully so. As we draw nearer to spring, many people start thinking about what they want to accomplish in the warmer months. Making changes to help pollinators is a great way to be more eco-friendly.
What’s Happening to the Bees?
Bees provide crucial ecosystem services by pollinating plants. This increases the yield of crops and allows wild flora to survive in their native landscapes.
Colony Collapse Disorder is a condition that’s affecting hives all over the world. The mechanism by which the disorder damages and ultimately destroys hives seems to be mediated by several factors. Nutritional deficiencies stemming from pesticide use, habitat loss, and mono-culture crops make bees more susceptible to viral and fungal infections.
In fact, these pathogens can be spread through the commercial transport of honeybees if proper quarantines aren’t enforced.
So, the state of the world’s pollinators is in bad shape. Local and national efforts to help bees, like Cheerios’ #BringBacktheBees campaign, encourage people to plant wildflowers to help bees get back on their tarsi (that’s Insect for feet).
But, if you live in an apartment, it’s a lot harder to plant a flourishing garden than if you own property. That doesn’t mean you can’t help, though! Here are three ways that apartment dwellers can make a positive impact.
Balconies and Windows
Just because you don’t have a yard doesn’t mean you can’t offer pollen and nectar to your local bees. Setting up window boxes with native flowers or herbs will attract pollinators and have the added benefit of brightening up your space.
If you have a balcony, consider growing some produce, or just more flowers. This resource is a great tool for finding which plants are native to your area.
Citizen Science Initiatives
Researchers around the world need help to collect data. Bees and other pollinators are difficult to study in the wild because they’re so mobile. This makes citizen science initiatives an excellent way to gather information about bees because everyone can contribute!
Bee monitoring programs include Bumble Bee Watch, which pools data from all over North America, and Bee Spotter, which is currently limited to Illinois, Missouri, Ohio, and Indiana. The Xerces Society has a number of pollinator projects that you can join that range from bumblebees to butterflies.
There is increasing interest in community gardens and the benefits they bring. Getting outside, socializing with other gardeners, and enjoying the fruits (literally!) of your labor make community gardens extremely rewarding.
In urban spaces, a community garden can be a refuge for tired, hungry pollinators, and you can even set up nest boxes and houses for native bees. To find a community garden near you, check out the American Community Gardening Association. Or, start talking to your neighbors and friends about starting your own community garden.
Everyone can help the bees in small ways, and every effort counts. Educating others is just as important as tangible actions. And you never know; sharing what you know can pique someone’s interest and get them involved, too.