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Bee Kind to Pollinators

It may come as a surprise to some that certain species of bees, including the rusty patched bumble bee in 2017, have been declared endangered by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Unprecedented but not unexpected, we've watched the bee population plummet 87% over the past 20 years, all while pondering what steps can be taken to help boost bee populations. Well, it appears it's now or never. Let's help push off extinction of the human race together!

The Importance of Bees

Bees kick butt. Over 4,000 species (in North America) are responsible for pollinating fruit trees, vegetable plants, and lots of other food crops we rely on (think coffee, chocolate). Without our hard working pollinating work force, approximately 90% of plants wouldn't reproduce, and we would starve. To death.

What's Happening

To keep pests out of our yards and gardens and to stop pests from eating our crops, homeowners and farmers alike are blanket-spraying all the plants - much to the detriment of the humble bee. Clearing out natural vegetation to make way for neighborhoods with grass lawns is reducing places bees can feed and thrive. Extreme weather is causing plants to flower too soon only to die with the next cold snap. As a result of many factors, the bees are getting weaker, aren't producing as many workers, and populations are dying off.

What to Do

Here are some steps to take that will help get bees buzzing again.

Grow a Bee-Friendly Garden

This benefits everyone, but has a significant impact on bees, particularly if the plants you choose are bee-friendly, native, flowering varieties. Some suggestions for Richmond, Virginia include the following:

- Lavender

- Rhododendrons

- Clover

- Bachelor Buttons

- Bellflower

- Herbs including Thyme, Oregano, Sage, Rosemary

- Asters

- Daisies

- Mint

- Butterfly Bushes

Here's a complete list of Bee Friendly Plants for Virginia.

Terra Firma Organic Farm has a variety of cherry trees that attract so many bees come spring, the collective buzz can be heard from ten paces. For all their hard work, we're rewarded with a bounty of cherries in July!

Bee Green

- Don't overuse (or use at all) chemicals or pesticides in lawn and garden. They harm bees.

- Buy local, organic produce and local honey from your farmer's market or organic market (we like ellwoodthompsons).

- Leave some unmanicured lawn areas (unmowed or unraked) to provide bees with winter shelter.

- Limit or eliminate grass, turning your yard into a flowering garden bed for bees and butterflies. Grass doesn't really do it for bees.

Other Ways to Bee Friendly

- Let the dandelions grow - for many bees, these provide their first spring meal

- Provide a water source, because bees get thirsty too

- Become a beekeeper and start your own hive

- Share the hashtag #savethebees to increase awareness; talk about the plight of bees with those around you; and most importantly never miss an opportunity to use a bee pun.

Adding bees to the endangered list is a great step to stop their diminishing numbers. We hope you'll join us to spread awareness! Interested in making your garden bee-friendly? Give us a shout: info (at) tflco (dot) com

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