In 2017, the first bumble bee was put on the Endangered Species List. Since then, the future of these amazing pollinators has been getting a lot of buzz. A majority of the worlds flowering plants, including our food, depend on bees to reproduce. In fact, we are so reliant on bees for food production that farmers truck in massive colonies of honeybees to maximize crop yields. Here in the Puget Sound, we have several species that are declining. These include the Morrison Bumblebee, Suckley Cuckoo Bumblebee, Western Bumblebee and the Yellow Bumblebee.
Here are a few things you can do to help protect this vital species.
Plant a bee garden
If you have space in your yard, consider creating a bee garden. These are planted to provide habitat and food for native bees. For more information the United States Forest Service provides a detailed report on the importance of pollinators and in-depth planting information.
Don’t use insecticides
When gardening avoid using insecticides or pesticides. You risk poisoning helpful insects, like bees, in addition to being toxic for humans and pets. Consider researching the ecology of your pest and how you can attract its natural predators.
Washington State University published a guide on identification of beneficial insects and how to get them to stay in your garden. There are also many alternatives like horticulture oils and insecticidal soaps. For more information, the Nature Conservancy and Cornell Labs cooperated on this guide to insecticide alternatives.
Support local, sustainable beekeepers
Spread the word
Let your family, friends and neighbors know about this issue. Support educational programs like Sponsor-A-Hive which uses beehives to educate children in subjects such as ecology and agriculture. Consider donating to foundations such as Pollinator Partnership which focus on promoting the health of pollinators through education, outreach and research.