Loss of habitat is one of the biggest threats to pollinators. Most people like to focus on pesticides as the reason for declines in pollinators, and they certainly hurt pollinators. However, loss of habitat magnifies every other problem plaguing pollinators because no living creature can be resilient without a place to live and food to eat. Honey bees garner most of people’s attention in the pollinator discussion for three reasons:
- Honey bees can be “domesticated” and kept in boxes in people’s backyards. Thus, they are accessible to humans, which fuels our curiosity and interest.
- Honey bees have an enormous impact on large scale agriculture. (Check out the post I wrote a few years ago about honey bees and almond trees by clicking here.)
- People like honey. It tastes good and conjures up all sorts of happy childhood memories of Pooh Bear.
Honey bees are not endangered species. However, many other types of pollinators are threatened or endangered. Some species of bumble bees are now endangered due to loss of habitat. Two years ago, I wrote about our plans to make a large scale conservation area and pollinator habitat. (You can check out that post here.) We were fortunate to get a grant through the USDA EQIP program to help offset some of the costs of the work. The property is part of a critical watershed that the USDA feels is worthy of protection.
I am happy to report that we have nearly achieved our goal! Last fall while the pandemic raged and disrupted all of our lives, Doug and I spent our days clearing 15 acres of bush honey suckle by hand. (Special shout out to our fathers who helped.) Honey suckle removal was physically the hardest job I have ever done. One positive effect was that I could eat a giant stack of pancakes every morning without putting on weight. You don’t need a gym membership when you are cutting and dragging honey suckle for hours every day. We also planted five acres of pasture land with wildflowers and native grasses. The result is a bee buffet of epic proportions.
I made a short little video to help you see the work done in the pasture. The focus is a little wonky in spots. I haven’t figured out why my camera phone does this. I was so excited when I made the video that I said we planted 7 acres. We actually planted 5, but it felt like 7 when I was standing there in the sunset watching the bees hover over the black eyed Susan blooms.
Remember the 1989 film with Kevin Costner called Field of Dreams? My field of dreams doesn’t have baseball diamonds and ghosts in old uniforms. My field of dreams has bees and milkweed plants. What’s in your field of dreams?