Saturday, December 27, 2008

Bee the solution -- grow a meadow

Like most Americans who pay attention to the news, especially environmental news, I had heard of "Colony Collapse Disorder" that has been killing off about one in three North American honey bee colonies each of the last several winters. However, I was not aware, until watching this TED presentation by Dennis vanEngelsdorp, the Acting State Apiarist for Pennsylvania's Department of Agriculture, was that native polinators like bumble bees, and bats, are also disappearing -- bats are disappearing at an alarming rate. The majority of fruits, vegetables and nuts we eat depend upon pollination by honey bees, so this, like all environmental problems, is a human problem and an economic problem, not just a "bee" problem. Watch, enjoy, and learn!

The most interesting and valuable suggestion that Dennis vanEngelsdorp makes in this video, is to replace your lawn (or at least part of it) with a meadow. Here's a way that ordinary citizens can be part of the solution to an environmental problem. A few years ago, I heard a speech by a horticulturalist who advocated (for a variety of environmental reasons) leaving a six to ten foot radius circle around major trees in your yard. We immediately instituted that practice in our 2/3 acre lot. There's lots of benefits of this, in addition to creating more habitat for polinators -- less time wasted on mowing the lawn, less gasoline is wasted, less noise and pollution is created, less greenhouse gases created, and many more butterflies, birds, and other wonderful creatures will find their way to your yard.


Chris Crawford said...

I can claim no virtue here -- it's a little silly attempting to plant a lawn in a 40 acre parcel in the forest. However, I can add another reason for ditching one's lawn: it's a haven for fleas. I don't know why, but fleas love lawns.

E. R. Dunhill said...

Cheeky title.
Thanks for posting on this. The loss of both quantity and biodiversity of pollinators is a huge problem. Doing-away with some lawn-area is good for the environment for a number of reasons, as you suggest. I can offer a few related suggestions to readers:
It's fairly easy to compound this benefit by encouraging native flowers or planting native trees. Even something as simple as hanging a bird-feeder can help. Seed-feeders attract a variety of birds, who bring with them seeds from all over your local area. Alternatively, hummingbird feeders directly attract native pollinators- hummingbirds.
And, for those who aren't squeemish about bats, you can install a bat box. This is basically just a large bird house designed specicially to attract and host bats. Various state government agencies and non-profits offer simple designs to make your own.

Pat Jenkins said...

no matter how much man tries, there are times when he can not stop the "changing" world.. yours truly the dodo bird....