Across both Idaho and the rest of the nation, bee populations remain in danger. Bees are one of the most important pollinators in North American, and their numbers have continued to decline rapidly due to a variety of factors, including industrial agriculture, frequent pesticide usage, monoculture farming practices, and more. As these practices continue, North America’s native bee population is likely to continue to struggle and could be at serious risk.
Population Declines Nationwide
It’s no secret that bee populations have been at risk for some time. Many honeybees are kept as a form of livestock in the U.S., but while these bees might be doing well, bee populations as a whole have been suffering. This is particularly true for native bee populations across America, who have seen their habitats shrinking and colonies suffering from disease. Bees have been on the decline for years, due to a combination of factors within American agriculture.
Why Save The Bees?
While you might not frequently think of bees as an essential part of the ecosystem, bees are one of the most important pollinators in America. Bees contribute significantly to growing crops; in fact, bees are our nation’s primary pollinators, responsible for increasing fruit and vegetable harvest yields by up to 71% and adding at least $15 billion a year to our economy. Despite how much work they do to help agriculture, our agricultural practices do little to help the bees. Pesticides and modern industrial farming practices work against these important pollinators, and are putting them at risk of becoming endangered or even extinct.
However, there may be a few ways to help maintain bee population numbers to give bees a fighting chance right in your own backyard. While a majority of the threats to North American bee populations are happening on a larger scale through industrial farming and habitat destruction, there are a few simple steps you can take to protect your local pollinators right at home.
How You Can Help
You don’t necessarily need to work in agriculture to help save the bees. Plenty of small, day-to-day actions at home can help save the existing bee populations. If possible, try to design your yard and garden to be pollinator-friendly. This means incorporating more native plants that bees can collect pollen and nectar from. Aim to mimic natural wildlife as much as possible by planting native plants; these plants can help bee populations get the resources they need to thrive.
Another way to give bees important resources in your yard is to create safe spaces for these important pollinators. Encourage bees to build a hive near you by creating spaces that lend themselves to easy colony establishment. Additionally, try adding a bee fountain to your yard; this will help bees stay hydrated by giving them a drinking source near your garden, keeping resources close at hand.
Most importantly, avoid using pesticides and insecticides on your plants and yard. While many insecticides say that they are safe for bees, the chemicals in them can be harmful to colonies and limit the amount of pollen and nectar available to them. Instead, opt for natural pest repellants, or plan out your garden and yard in a way that will help deter pests naturally. Many types of plants and other natural fixes exist to keep unwanted animals away from your garden without harming America’s most important pollinator.
Bees are an essential part of Idaho’s and America’s ecosystems and are vital to agriculture and the overall environment. Taking a few simple steps at home can help keep these pollinators safe and healthy, and maybe even increase their overall numbers in the future.