March 29, 2015
Scientific studies, as well as media reports, confirm that the honey bee populations are in decline and the cause of these troubles knows no boarders. The reports go on to remind us about the importance of honey bees, which were imported from Europe, and the vital role they play in pollinating the ensuring the food crops such as apples, blueberries, cherries, soybeans and tomatoes, just to name a few. Estimates put the value of honey bee pollination in excess of a billion dollars.
We have also been warned of the decreasing worldwide supply of honey. Factors such as pesticide use, disease and habitat loss have all been linked to the declining honey bee numbers and these factors continue to threaten existing pollutions.
Native pollinators also play a critical role in pollination of agricultural crops as well as native plants and therefore are vital in maintaining biodiversity in our natural ecosystems. These organisms have coexisting and evolved with one another over time. We know that when of these populations suffers; all the other organisms that interact or depend on them will also be impacted. Native pollinator populations, including hundreds of species of native bees, wasps, birds, butterflies, moths, flies, beetles and even bats are all sensitive to the same threats that are impacting honey bees. It is critical to understand the environment in which all pollinators exist and the requirements that must be provided for their ongoing survival.
Years before stretches of lands were cleared for farming and housing developments, native pollinator populations coexisted with other native plant and animal species. As lands were developed and the natural habitat was lost, native wildlife populations struggles to find the food, water and shelter for them to survive. In these necessities are not being met, populations decline in some cases are lost. Those organisms that are able to survive fact he additional threats from the impact of pesticides used in forestry, farming and horticulture.
The horticulture industry has been in the business of promoting gardening and encouraging people to create and maintain the landscape around them. In the past, landscape design was driven by aesthetic values. Plants were selected based primarily on how they grew, how they looked and how easy they were to maintain. Today, while overall aesthetics are still important, more and more gardeners and landscape designers are becoming increasingly aware of the role that the space, just outside of their home, has to provide much needed habitat to support local wildlife populations, including pollinators. As gardeners, we have the opportunity to create and maintain landscapes that are able to provide much needed habitat for pollinators. To do so, we must select plants and adopt gardening practices that help ensure a healthy environment and that satisfy the need for food, shelter and water of these pollinators.
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