A couple of weeks ago, I contributed to an article in our local newspaper about honeybees and butterflies.
I've contributed before, but I was pretty excited about this article when I read it.
Not because of me being in the paper, but because of some of the other people that were in the article! It was an honor for me to be a contributor in the same article as these people.
And it made the entire front page of the Sunday paper.
The reason this article is of concern to so many people, is because if we keep doing what we've been doing, we are
NOT GOING TO HAVE ANY BEES AND BUTTERFLIES left.
Rather than reiterate what was said in the article you can click HERE and read it.
Let me start out by saying, I know it's hard to change the mindset of people. Everyone wants to see butterflies and honeybees and such, but they also want their yard to look like a golf course.
How many honeybees/butterflies do you see sucking nectar out of a blade of grass?
And why do we obsess over grass?
Personally, I think this is much prettier!
I don't think "Little House on the Perfectly Manicured Yard" has quite the same ring as "Little House on the Prairie" do you?
All of these pictures were taken by me and they are on our land, except for the picture of the swarm. We do not have the golf course lawn. We do have clover and dandelions, which bees love. Seriously....people boast about getting "clover honey" yet they are the same people who spray chemicals on the clover in their lawn!
We also have milkweed, goldenrod, and Queen Anne's Lace.
We do have a small acreage of land, but what can you do if you have a small yard or live in town?
I'd like to tell you three things YOU CAN DO
to help nature, that did not make the article.
1) Pick one small area of your yard and let it grow native.
Think of it as an experiment.
See what kind of wildlife that one little area attracts.
Just one area.
Did you know if monarch butterflies do not have milkweed, they will not survive? Monarchs lay their eggs on milkweeds plants, the eggs hatch and as larvae they eat the plant. Monarch butterflies are smart enough to know they HAVE TO LAY THEIR EGGS ON MILKWEED PLANTS! Milkweed used to grow by fence rows, but so many plants that we consider weeds are being exterminated. By exterminating all the milkweed, you are exterminating the monarchs.
It's the circle of life peeps.
Yup...this is our fence row.
This is a butterfly bush in our yard. In the late summer we saw hundreds of butterflies between the milkweed, the butterfly bushes, and the fennel and dill plants. Hundreds. If you want to plant a butterfly garden don't forget about host plants for the butterfly larvae.
Honeybees love goldenrod in the fall and it makes a very rich honey.
2) The second thing you can do is IF YOU SEE A SWARM OF BEES CALL YOUR LOCAL EXTENSION OFFICE or a local beekeeper. Look up the phone number now and keep it handy. Don't kill them! Below is a picture of one of the biggest swarms I've ever gotten. They are usually the size of a football. And most bees will start swarming in May. There are more people getting into beekeeping because the media has finally caught on to the loss of our honeybees, and people realize they can raise bees in town. More beekeepers mean more swarms. This is one of the most docile states honeybees are in. I've never been stung getting a swarm of bees. They will hang around like this anywhere from three hours to three days, so call someone as soon as you spot it. It's very exciting watching a beekeeper get a swarm. And if you call me, I usually bring an extra suit and let you be a part of the experience if you want to.
3) And this is a hard one. Buy your seeds from a reputable organic company.
There are several now. Two I know of are Seed Savers Exchange and Seeds of Change. There are dozens more. And some stores sell organic seeds now. The reason this is hard for me is because when I go to a garden center to buy a plant, I see it, I like it, I buy it. But this should change the way people purchase plants. Many plants have already been genetically modified with pesticides. (gmo's) When you buy a plant that has been genetically modified with pesticides, and a honeybee or butterfly sucks the nectar from that plant, it will die. And guess what? They will not be labeled genetically modified.
Didn't someone stop to think that there are good bugs out there, that WILL DIE, just as easily as the bad bugs?
Sometimes you just have to stop and wonder
what were they thinking?