This is National Pollinator Week, and Energy Saver is highlighting one of the most prolific pollinators: bees.
Bees play a crucial role in the health and longevity of our ecosystem. Through pollination, bees ensure there is continuous multiplication of the plants, which are responsible for the purification of the atmosphere by taking in carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and releasing oxygen to it. But did you know that climate change affects bees in multiple ways? And there are things you can do to help.
How Climate Change is Impacting the Bee
Altering the Scents of Plants
Bees depend on scents to search for plant nectar, which is their food. Floral scents are unique to each flower and plant. Bees have a special ability to remember these scents in their search for pollen. Climate change has resulted in plants changing their scents because they are climate stressed. As a result, it is difficult for bees to find plants for food, leading to the loss of bee populations.
Mismatch In Seasonal Timing
Timing is crucial for pollination, as flowering and hatching must coincide for successful pollination to take place. Climate change has resulted in the mismatch between the period when flowers produce pollen and when the bees are ready to feed on the pollen—decreasing seed production and causing food shortages.
Habitat ranges for bees have become smaller, and they are challenged as to where to live and search for food. Unlike some other insects that easily adapt to new habitat ranges, some bee species rarely shift their habitat. Increased habitat loss from climate change has led to native bees experiencing a greater threat to extinction than ever before.
How to Help Bees
While bee conservation should be addressed on a massive scale, there are some ways you can help bees in your own yard:
- Plant native blooming trees, shrubs, and wildflowers to provide pollinators with nectar and pollen to eat. There are plenty of helpful resources on native plants for your area. One of the most comprehensive ones is the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower database.
- Be careful about what plants you buy. There is widespread evidence that systemic herbicides are bad for bees. Yet, many commercial plants are still sprayed with this before they are shipped retail outlets. Check the label of each plant for a warning to see if it was sprayed for aphids and other insects. If it is, then set it back down.
- Plant for variety in color, sizes, and seasons. Having a buffet of flowering options is best to help pollinators, especially bees. While many bees are generalists and like all flowers, there are some that only visit specific native nectar plant species, and some prefer a certain size of flower. So, providing many different types of flowers is helpful.
- Provide nesting habitats for bees. Providing hives for bees is great. But most bees are solitary bees, and they have different nesting needs than hive bees. For solitary bees, keep areas of bare soil for ground-nesting bees to burrow. Provide pithy plant stalks like sunflowers where the bees can hollow out the inside for their nest. If you choose to use a bee hotel, they will need to be disinfected after every season to prevent the spread of bee diseases.
As Clean Energy Champions, it is our responsibility to do our part to protect our environment to ensure its longevity. Energy Saver provides a range of resources and information, so you can take steps at home to not only save energy and money, but save the planet, as well.