Pollinators Need You
Honeybee with Deformed Wing Virus.
What You Can Do To Help
Honeybees and other pollinators are in decline globally and you can make a difference.
Our concern for pollinators really started to come into focus after reading a startling article in the New York Times Magazine titled, The Insect Apocalypse in November 2018, followed by more dire news about the Western Monarch Butterfly and bumblebees in crisis thereafter. We've heard for years about the decline in honeybees with Colony Collapse Disorder, and the latest research revealed that the problem with decline in abundance in the insect world are not exclusive to honeybees.
At the same time, we were getting more involved in the California Native Plant Society -- San Diego Chapter learning about how to transform our yard into a drought-tolerant California native plant garden that is pollinator-friendly. Fast-forward, we're now beekeepers with an apiary of Happy Bees in Golden Hill surrounded by a pollinator-friendly native plant garden, both of which are thriving.
Beyond the obvious visual transformation that took place wtih these changes, what we didn't realize was how important the flowering plants we introduced to our yard would be to the native pollinators in our region, and how they would descend into our world and yard in great number and with regularity -- insects we have never seen before were suddenly regular visitors to our yard. It was this transformation that unveiled the significance of our work.
below is a compilation of some of the native pollinators that now regularly visit our native plant garden and forage alongside our honeybees for pollen and nectar.
What can you do to help honeybees and other pollinators? Below is a short list of some of the easy steps we can take to transform all of Golden Hill into a pollinator-friendly community. These easy steps can be implemented no matter where you live.
Plant Pollinator-Friendly Native Plants
Whether you have an expansive yard or a few pots, by adding pollinator-friendly native plants, you will save water, introduce lovely color and scents to your surroundings, and help pollinators too!
Become a Member of the California Native Plant Society (CNPS) -- San Diego Chapter and take advantage of their Native Landscape Planting Guide to develop a plan for your space.
If you have a bit more room, consider planting a variety of flowering shrubs that bloom at different times of year to provide a year-round food source for pollinators.
Ready to purchase those plants? Moosa Creek Nursery in San Diego County has an extensive selection of wonderful California native plants, including those species listed on the CNPS Planting Guide, and they will deliver your special order to a nearby nursery for pickup, such as the wonderful City Farmer's Nursery (our favorite).
Learn More About Honeybees and Pollinators
When we say, "Pollinators", what exactly are we referring to? The Xerces Society, one of our favorite organizations devoted to invertebrate conservation and education, provides a simple guide to answering that question. Here are some things you can do to learn more about honeybees and native pollinators.
Become a Member of the Xerces Society and learn more about pollinators on their website.
Learn more about the Western Monarch, it's struggle to survive, and how you can help at Monarch Watch. Plant native milkweed for monarchs, and spread the word!
Get connected with the San Diego Beekeeping Society. A low-cost annual membership will afford you access to wonderful ongoing educational presentations about honeybees and native pollinators. This organization is focused on education and support for beekeepers, helping pollinators thrive, and to welcome people in the community who are just interested in learning more about honeybees.
Are you considering beekeeping as a hobby? If so, learn more about it at the County of San Diego Honeybee Protection Program. The hard-working knowledgable people at the County are a wealth of knowledge and support that is essential to becoming a successful beekeeper.
Enroll in one of local beekeeper Hilary Kearney's online beekeeping classes, read her fantastic books about Honeybees and Native Pollinators, and learn more on her blog and Girl Next Door Honey website. We have learned a lot from Hilary, and we share a similar approach to beekeeping.
Be sure to spread your knowledge to others!
Curb Your Use Of Chemicals Outdoors
When foragers encounter pesticides (organic and synthetic), herbicides, fungicides, and other chemicals, they will unknowingly bring those chemicals back to the colony. Entire colonies of 30,000-50,000 honeybees have been killed in just a few hours due to this type of chemical exposure. In January 2021, a beekeeper in the Escondido area lost over 10 hives in one day... hundreds of thousands of honeybees dead due to chemical exposure in the foraging area. This toll doesn't even account for all the native butterflies, bumblebees, and other pollinators that were lost. Events like this can easily be avoided by taking the following precautions.
If at all possible, do not use any pesticides outside around your home. There are plenty of alternative options that can work with some patience and perseverance. We owe it to the dwindling pollinator populations to put in a little extra effort here. Victoria and Judd have eliminated the use of any chemicals outside around their home for over a decade and there have been no issues with bugs becoming a problem. In fact, the elimination of pesticides has been balanced out by more native birds visiting our organic vegetable garden to feed on the pests that would otherwise eat our veggies. The transformation has been amazing, and we now live in a poison-free habitat!
If you are dependent on pesticide and other chemical use around your home, don't apply those chemicals near plants that pollinators visit, especially when those plants are blooming. And, apply in the evening after most pollinators are away. Of course, Always follow the directions on the bottle closely.
Never use the "black list" of pesticides that contain imidacloprid, clothianidin, thiamethoxam, acetamiprid, or dinotefuran. Those chemicals are extremely toxic to bees, and you will find them in many home-and-garden products, often marketed as "all-in-one" or "broad-spectrum" pesticides. These are the dreaded "neonicotinoid" pesticides believed to be one of the root causes of worldwide decline in honeybees and other pollinators.
Learn more about pesticide effects on pollinators and alternative solutions provided by the Xerces Society. Then, share your knowledge with your friends, neighbors, and or landlord to encourage others to make a shift towards a healthier environment and community.
Support Happy Bee and Other Local Beekeepers
Local beekeepers struggle to keep honeybees in good health with all of the environmental challenges that honeybees face -- from toxic chemical exposure to diseases, to hive invaders. Effective and sustainable beekeeping requires frequent integrated management of hives that demands lots of time and expense. Support your local beekeepers by doing the following...
Learn about pollinators and honeybees. The more you know, the more you will perform the very actions that beekeepers need community members to do to help their colonies be more successful.
Support your local beekeeping society, such as the San Diego Beekeeping Society. Organizations like this one provide a lot of essential resources and assistance to beekeepers.
Support your local beekeeper directly by buying local honey when available.