|WildFlowerMix.com - An Informational Website From Seedland.com
Bees, animals and other insects are essential to the pollination of over
80% of the worlds flowering plants. This includes an estimated 35% of the world food crops. Without pollinators
these plants and crops will perish and so will the population of humans, animals, other insects.....well you get the picture.
According to the USDA, insects comprise about 99% of the more than 200,000 species that act as pollinators (see our partial list below). It is commonly
thought that the major pollinators are the European Honeybee which has shown a decline of over 50% worldwide due to diseases, pests, and the use of chemicals.
It is easy to
cultivate the European honey Bee for pollination, honey, wax, and other products and we have taken the easy way out for centuries. Because it was so easy to utilize European honeybees, the
importance of native pollinators to North American ecosystems and agriculture has been overlooked and ignored. It has been shown in studies that adequate populations of native pollinator
species, particularly native bee species, can provide 100% of the pollination activity needed for many farm crops. It has been estimated that wild, native bees pollinate over $3 billion
worth of crops in the United States each year.
Seedland is proud to be a part of the growing effort to conserve and protect bees
and other pollinators. We offer at our online store, Seedland.com, an extensive inventory of wildflower seed mixtures, native grasses and other crops such as alfalfa that are necessary for
the conservation of insect and animal pollinator species such as:
Native Bees - Read about native bees as pollinators
- Honey Bees - Read about honey bees as pollinators
- Other Mammals
Some of the pollinators listed above have declined in population, become endangered or even extinct due to the loss of natural food supplies, habitat and the use of chemical
herbicides and fungicides.
Due to this decline in pollinator species, pollinator conservation was made an important part of H.R. 6124, the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, commonly known as the
Farm Bill. This act covers a wide range of agricultural and food programs, but it also includes conservation programs. This bill provides support for research and makes pollinator habitat
conservation a priority for land managers and conservationists. It will benefit both managed pollinators such as honey bees as well as wild pollinator species across the U.S.
The Farm Bill provides for funding for conservationists, land managers, farmers, individuals or professional bee keepers to provide pollinator conservation. This
would include among other things, providing pollinator habitats and pollinator food such as wildflowers, native grasses and other pollinator crops. For more information see the NRCS
website at http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/ and read this PDF document from the USDA on
Using Farm Bill Programs For Pollinator Conservation.
Honey bees do a lot more than produce wax and honey. Although not native to the US, they were brought over from Europe by the early colonists, the honey bee
is a very important pollinator of agricultural crops. The list of crops that honey bees pollinate is practically endless.
A short list of crops pollinated by the honey bee
- Many Varieties of Vegetables
Alfalfa is an important forage crop for livestock and wildlife. It is often planted by bee-keepers to provide nectar for the honey bee. The relationship benefits are mutual
as alfalfa depends upon bees for pollination.
Honey Bee Conservation - The Problem & Solution
In recent years, there has
been a steady decline in the honey bee population due to Colony Collapse disorder (CCD). According to research there has been a loss of about 1/3 of honey bee hives across the US due to CCD. Studies indicate that CCD is caused by a combination of factors including infectious pathogens, malnutrition, stress and the use of pesticides.
Planting Flowers or wildflowers that produce pollen and nectar, to supplement their food chain when crops are not blooming will help to provide nutrition to honey bees
throughout the entire bee season. As an individual, professional bee-keeper, conservationist or land manager you can contribute to the conservation of the honey bee by planting
wildflowers and other native blooming plants. Please see our menu for bee wildflowers mixes.
These charts below contain individual wildflower species for bee feed
wildflowers to determine the best honey bee wildflowers to plant in your area -
In addition to the individual species of wildflowers that are beneficial to honey bees, we also offer a
Honey Bee Wildflower Mixture that attracts, feeds and provides a habitat for the honey bee.
There are over 4000 species of native bees in the USA alone. These native bees are the predominant pollinators of flowering plants in our eco-system. Due to this important role in
our eco-system, bees are referred to as "keystone organisms". While the honey bee is important and has been a managed bee by bee-keepers, it has been discovered, through research, that
native bees are proficient pollinators that sometimes do the job more efficiently than the honey bee.
Native bees have many unique names that have been given throughout time by various cultures. Sometimes receiving the name for how they
build their nests - Carpenter bees, leafcutter bees, miner bees, mason bees, digger bees and so forth. Other bees are named for the crops they pollinate such as squash, sunflower, and blueberry bees.
The pollination of many crops can be fulfilled by native bees when honey bees are in short supply and they do the job as well or better! For instance the blue orchard bee is the primary pollinator of cultivated apples, the Western Bumblebee has been used to pollinate cranberries, avocadoes, and blueberries and Native squash bees are the major pollinators of
cultivated squash. Native bees are sometimes managed by bee-keepers like the common honey bee.
Native Bee Conservation - The Problem & Solution
Before modern development and the chemical boom of the 1950's, farmers had plenty of native bees
and native honey bees to pollinate crops. With the advent of industrial agriculture, the development boom, and the un-bridled use of chemicals this is no longer true. Native Bees have lost their habitat in addition to being destroyed by chemicals used in modern day farming
and everyday mass consumerism.
Planting Flowers or wildflowers that produce pollen and nectar, to supplement their food chain when crops are not blooming will help to provide nutrition to Native bees throughout the entire bee season.
As an individual, professional bee-keeper, conservationist or land manager you can contribute to the conservation of the Native Bees by planting wildflowers and other native blooming
plants. Please see our menu for bee wildflowers mixes.
These links to charts below contain individual wildflower species for bee feed wildflowers to determine the best native bee wildflowers to
plant in your area -
Additional Conservation Solutions
Native & Honey Bees have certain environmental needs in their established habitats. As for bee habitats, you can preserve any that may exist on your property or you may create them. To establish a good bee habitat:
- Make sure there is good clean water available
- Establish areas for nesting, egg laying & secure over wintering sites
- Provide adequate food by planting flowers and wildflowers that produce nectar and pollen
- Avoid the use of chemicals or insecticides in bee areas
Bee Habitat & Other Conservation Publications
See this excellent publication by Bryn Mawr & Rutgers University about Native Bee Conservation
Through Habitats & Foraging Needs (in PDF format) using the methods we have discussed here. Native Bees can be easily identified
with the bee pictures provided. Although it was published for farmers in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, most of the native bees are found across the USA so the information is valid no matter
where you live.
Build a bee nesting House for Bees - this website from the University of Maine is full of
bee foraging facts and includes instructions for building bee nesting houses.
For more on pollinator conservation and identification visit the following websites:
Bee Identification - http://bugguide.net/node/view/15740
US Forest Service - http://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/pollinators/index.shtml
Xerces Society For Invertebrate Conservation - http://www.xerces.org/
All About Bees - http://www.attra.org/attra-pub/nativebee.html
The Great Sunflower Project - http://www.greatsunflower.org/