Are We Starving the Bees?

Are we unknowingly starving the pollinators and our precious ecosystem too? Are we unaware that each time we plant another one of those perfect looking, unsustainable hybrid plants that we are actually hammering another nail in their coffin… and ours too?

Like fast food chains, hybrid plants and flowers have slowly popped up everywhere and are in everyplace; and just like the nutritionists and doctors who voice concerns about the overall health effects from fast food chains on their patrons, so too are ecologists, scientists and gardeners voicing concerns about the overall health effects from hybrid plants on their patrons: the pollinators.

Pollinators, such as bees, require nectar and/or pollen as nutrients for themselves as well as for their unborn bees. Hybrids are generally hand pollinated by their manufacturer rather than by the bees and other pollinators who depend on them. These fast food hybrids lack proper nutrition for pollinators. Hybrid plants, especially those of the F1 variety, lack the sufficient nectar or pollen that hungry bees and other pollinators require. Pollinators eat from hybrid plants but they do not receive the proper nutrition needed to maintain overall health. These mass-produced plants populate our garden centers, greenhouses, city landscapes and gardens and have contributed to the decline of bees, butterflies, birds, even pests and all of their predators too. When our pollinators starve our ecosystem starves.

Are we starving the bees? Yes, but they are not the only starving pollinators. Bees are the most recognized pollinators because gardeners interact with them almost on a daily basis. When bees are absent, gardeners take notice. Many other pollinators depend on a nourishing menu of nectar and/or protein rich pollen too. Real organic, open-pollinated plants, both domestic and wild, have gradually been replaced by ones that are not. Today’s pollinators live in a world spread with unsustainable hybrids, genetically modified plants and flowers, toxins and pesticides.

The rise in manufactured hybrid plants and the decline in open pollinated plants have stripped the pollinators of a well balanced menu. The lack of plant diversity, increase in corporate uni-crops and destruction of natural landscapes have all been devastating for pollinators and all the other creatures who depend on them. Our peace-loving pollinators are losing the battle.

Planting a diverse array of multi-seasonal, true organic, open pollinated flowers and crops is one way to prevent starving the bees while at the same time nourishing our entire ecosystem, but it isn’t the only one. It’s one that we can all participate in whether you’re a window box gardener, a landscape artist or a farmer.