Summer. A time to slow down…enjoy the weather. A time to place a thin blanket on the ground, sit, and have lunch on the grass not a table. Soak in those rays while you’re at it! Summer is also a time for insects. It’s their time too.
These are a few that I’ve seen within the last week: Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus), the Ebony Jewelwing Damselfly (Calopteryx maculata), and the tiny, tiny sweat bee (Halictidae). I’ve also seen the Colorado Potato Beetle (not good for the garden), many ants, spiders galore, and a centipede.
What I haven’t seen are many honey bees.
From word of mouth, bee keepers are voicing difficulty with their hives. Honey bees have an uphill battle. Some of their struggles are: loss of habitat, pesticide, insecticide, and fungicide use, GMO crops, monocrops, mites, virus, and bacteria.
Honey bees are pollinators which pollinate our food. There are other pollinators such as: beetles, flies, butterflies, moths, hummingbirds, and even bats…but none are as efficient as the honey bee. We need to protect out pollinators because our food depends on it.
Disappearing pollinators are such a concern that scientists have developed drone pollinators. Yes, robot pollinators. Flying tiny robots pollinating flowers. Because these drones need to be controlled by a human, they cannot be efficient. Scientists hope to teach AI (Artificial Intelligence) to be able to control the drones on their own and know how to pollinate.
Do you want AI pollinating your food?
Not me. I hope we never get to that point. Let’s help the pollinators. But how?
This year I am converting my front grass lawn into a native habitat. Grass cannot hold much water, does not support a great deal of wildlife, costs a lot of money to fertilize/water, and you must mow it every week. But native plants support a lot of wildlife! You do not need to fertilize it and after the native plants are established, you don’t even need to water them! Yay native plants!
At nurseries there are beautiful blooming plants to purchase, but many don’t do much for pollinators either because they are cultivars or have been artificially bread to be hearty and beautiful. Many native insects cannot stomach those plants. Good for pretty, showy flowers, bad for nature and the ecosystem.
Man’s tampering has unintended consequences.