We must protect our pollinators

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Three out of four crops grown around the globe depend on pollinators like bees and birds to produce. Yet there is disturbing news that our pollinators are disappearing, according to an article in the international publication Farmer’s Weekly.

Pollination is vital to life on Earth and pollinators are essential to the production of many of the fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and oils we eat to fuel our bodies with micronutrients. The families that produce these crops rely on the income generated and they, in turn, support their communities with those proceeds.

“In a sense, bees can also be considered as livestock,” the article states. “With the increasing commercial value of honey, bees are becoming a growing generator of income, livelihood strategy and means of food security for small-scale producers and forest dwellers in many developing countries.”

Pollinators — including bees, butterflies and birds — are under threat from changes in land use. That includes monocultures, a narrower list of crops, and increased use of pesticides. Pests and diseases from reduced resistance of bee colonies poses a threat, too.

And climate change, the article states, has led to higher temperatures, droughts, floods and other extreme events, as well as changes in flowering times, hindering pollination for our food supply helpers.

We can all do a part to protect our pollinators, including planting native plants and making sure there are water sources in our yards. (Change water at least weekly to avoid mosquito problems.) Read our columnist Jim Stanley for helpful hints.

If we can help with bee, butterfly and bird habitats, we can ensure they’ll help us by doing the work nature intended. We can also ask for studies of which pesticides and herbicides may be doing more long-term harm than good. On a larger scale, we need our governments to promote climate-friendly policies to combat warming and environmental changes.

We need our pollinators. But they need us to be their advocates, too.