Monday, December 9, 2013

Learn more about your local pollinator!

In 2012 Second Harvest North Florida distributed 22 million pounds of food across north Florida. The support of the local government and community members as well as for-profit and not-for-profit organizations is the driving force behind Second Harvest’s success in fighting hunger on the First Coast. Second Harvest relies on another, often overlooked partner in the fight against hunger; the honey bee!

Honey bees are a pollinator, which means they transfer pollen from the male parts of the plant to the female parts of the plant. This transfer moves cells that allow plants to become fertilized and reproduce. This service is responsible for pollinating over 1/3 of the crops we grow and more than 100 different flowers.

Bees are threatened, and we don’t know exactly why. But you can help:

 Avoid using chemicals and pesticides on your lawn. These pesticides don’t know the difference between the insects that you want and the insects that you don’t want.

 Buy local food whenever possible. When you buy locally grown food you can find out how your food was grown. Were pesticides used? Does the farmer avoid growing ‘monocultures’? Small, local growers are much more likely to take the health of bees into consideration when they are growing your food.

 Buy local, raw honey whenever possible. Honey sold in grocery stores very likely contains chemicals and has been watered down. When the honey is processed and watered down the pollen is removed. Without the pollen you can’t determine where or how it was grown and won’t know what has been added. Remember, local honey can help you fight allergies. A spoonful a day really can help keep the doctor away!

 Plant wildflowers in your yard and let a patch of weeds grow. A bees’ habitat is not complete without these ‘wild’ areas, and the more the merrier.

 Bees need water. Fill a birdbath with water, and be sure to put rocks in it so the bees can land and reach the water.