How You Can Help Honey Bees and Other Pollinators

—by Naomi Jackson

You’ve been seeing and hearing a lot about the disappearance of honey bees and native pollinators. You can make a big difference by changing your shopping and gardening habits. Here are some suggestions, ranging from easy to challenging, along with resources for more information.

1. Plant native flowering plants in your yard. See "Gardening for Pollinators" in the April/May HPC newsletter, <www.hampdenpark coop.com/node/985>. The author lists many excellent resources.

2. Don’t buy foods containing crops subsidized by the U.S. government. This would include conventionally-grown corn, rice, soybeans, wheat, and beet sugar. On a 1-to-10 scale where 10 is the most difficult, this ranks as an “11.” Still, it’s worth thinking about, because U.S. farm policy for the past 40 years has led to wholesale destruction of native habitat and poisoning of native pollinators. For information, go to the Land Stewardship Project website, <landstewardshipproject.org/ organizingforchange/federalpolicy> or the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, <www.iatp.org/>.

3. Grow your own food, join a CSA, or shop at a farmers’ market. These choices will reduce your dependence on agribusiness.

4. Eat only organic foods. Even if the food is grown by big corporations, at least the bees and other pollinators aren’t being exposed to toxins.

5. Learn more about honey bees and native pollinators. Good resources include the Xerces Society (www.xerces.org), the Minnesota Hobby Beekeepers Association (www.mnbeekeepers.com), and the University of Minnesota Bee Lab (beelab.umn.edu/).

6. Learn more about sustainable farming in Minnesota. Check out the Sustainable Farming Association website, <www.sfa-mn.org/>.