A Day in the Park

I caught photo today of this tiny little worker as my kids and I were enjoying a local county park. I wondered if this little lady was enjoying the park's amenities as much as we were. Nature areas like this have an abundance of flowers, including clover, and water is plentiful from fountains and water features. What sort of park might a bee design?

Bees are suffering worldwide from Colony Collapse Disorder, killing massive numbers of hives each year. We need bees; they are critical to our well-being. The luscious honey they may provide is merely the icing on the cake. Worldwide bees pollinate most of the food we eat, allowing trees and plants to produce the bounty we enjoy each season. (The UN reports that bees pollinate 70% of the 100 crops that feed 90% of the world.  That's a complex  statistic, but it means bees do a lot of critical work to feed us.) Where would we be without the bee?

Here are a few things we can do to help:
  • Reduce your use of pesticides and herbicides in your home and lawn. - Bees are particularly sensitive to many of these products.
  • Plant nectar rich flowers. - Urban bees enjoy a wide-variety of bee-friendly flowers in a small convenient space. Try the University of Illinois or UC Berkley for flower suggestions.   
  • Buy pesticide free or organic produce, giving growers additional revenue to expand their bee-friendly farming.
  • Encourage local bee-keeping by purchasing local honey.  Find honey this summer at a farmers' market (or just google "honey" and your city name right now) and continue to purchase from them year round.
  • Ask your local market to carry local honey products.  Even our big box grocery stores carry some local products.
  • Try keeping bees yourself.  If you're within city limits, check local animal code first.  Although you'll have some start up costs and a learning curve, the rewards are certainly sweeter than most.

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