The Pollinator Connection: Bee happy anyway
By Kristina Lefever for the Tidings May 2, 2019 ~
As I was thinking about what to write, I realized that so much has happened since my previous column in December. So here’s a recap of some of the things that will benefit pollinators (and people) — or not — both locally and globally. On my list at least, the Good outnumbers the Not-So-Good.
Big thanks to the many, many people who responded to our requests to ask our state legislators to pass a bill that would finally make neonicotinoids a Restricted Use Pesticide. But, the legislation failed yet again. My hope is that here in the Valley, we can all agree to not sell or purchase products that contain neonicotinoids.
A report released in January summarized the findings of 73 studies researching the decline of insects around the globe. The primary factors are: development / loss of habitat, “pollution from pesticides,” climate change, and invasive species. The report advises that we are on track to lose another 40% of insect species during the next 10 years, after having lost 40% over the last 10. Bees and butterflies are among the hardest hit.
Information continues to come out citing the harm that glyphosate (an herbicide) and neonicotinoids (a systemic class of insecticides) have on insects and other creatures, including humans.
Testing of beer and wine sold in the U.S. confirmed the presence of glyphosate/Roundup in all but one product. Perhaps the U.S. will follow Germany’s lead, where, after testing in 2016 showed glyphosate in all beers tested, use was limited and a 2017 follow-up test showed marked improvement.
Friends of the Earth released a comprehensive and scary report after testing non-organic foods sold in grocery stores on the West Coast for three pesticides: glyphosate, neonicotinioids, and organophosphates. The majority of the foods tested positive.
A big thank you to the Medford Food Co-op and all the shoppers who showed such amazing support for Pollinator Project Rogue Valley in March! Through the Co-op’s new Positive Change program (what a great concept!), PPRV received over $2,000 in donations from people simply rounding up at checkout. Wow! These funds will support our Non Toxic Rogue Valley project, a collaboration with Beyond Toxics, to help municipalities transition away from toxic pesticides.
Bee City USA Ashland’s 2019 Pollinator Garden Tour is June 29 and 30. Stay tuned for more info! We are always looking for more gardens to certify!
The City of Medford voted to become a Bee City USA! Join me in congratulating Medford, which will be the fifth city in the Valley to bee so designated. There are now more than 80 Bee City USAs in the country!
Thanks to Beyond Toxics, the City of Jacksonville held a study session with experts in the field (pun intended) of organic landcare management April 8. The Council voted to proceed with developing an IPM (Integrated Pest Management) plan that would replace synthetic pesticides and fertilizers with practices and protocols to greatly decrease water usage and also decrease costs. We invite other cities in the Rogue Valley to consider this option too.
Did you know that herbicides, including glyphosate, are being sprayed throughout the county by Jackson County Roads? (that part is not-so-good) We need landowners willing and able to maintain their road frontage to get on the no-spray list — call Frank Barratta at 541-774-8184 for details.
Los Angeles County decided to stop using Roundup until more is known about its potential health and environmental effects.
As of this writing, SB 2619 is still in play, which will ban the use of chlorpyrifos from use in conventional agriculture. Already banned for indoor use, chlorpyrifos was almost banned by an order from EPA, but reinstated by the current administration. If you have friends in other parts of Oregon, their calls and emails to their legislators will help insure this Oregon bill passes.
A study from the UK shows that planting pollinator gardens in the city is very important for increasing bee and butterfly populations.
A large population of rare silver digger bees, native to sand dunes around Presido, CA, was found after invasive plants were removed and replaced with native plants.
Let’s keep in mind that more flowers, more wild bees, and more species of bees, will be found in areas that were burned by moderate and high-severity fires compared to low-severity fires.
It is finally spring! If you see a large bumble bee flying back and forth, low to the ground, she is a queen looking for a nest. An old rodent hole or depression under bushes or rocks will do just fine, especially in a less-than-tidy part of your yard (yes, it’s ok to bee a lazy gardener!). Bumbles are not aggressive, and are very important pollinators of crops and native plants.
Enjoy the Spring, and Bee Happy doing what you can to make a difference.
Kristina Lefever is a member of Pollinator Project Rogue Valley, Bee City USA Ashland, and a board member of Beyond Toxics. The Pollinator Connection appears quarterly.