Today I learned that bees pollinate coffee plants. Think about what your mornings would be like without that jolt of bee-eautiful java. The number of plants that bees pollinate is far too lengthy to reproduce here, but as well as coffee, the list includes apples, peaches, all types of beans, berries, cocoa, tomatoes and even cotton. So, to recap: without bees we would be hungry, sleepy and naked. That’s a lot of pressure to put on the humble bee, especially since the past dozen years or so have seen populations not just decreasing but collapsing. A study done by the Harvard School of Public Health concluded that bee deaths could be explained by one of three reasons: habitat loss, disease and exposure to neonicotinoids. In 2014, Ontario lost more than half of its bee colonies; in field studies conducted in 2012 and 2013 the federal government’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency found neonicotinoid residue on almost three-quarters of the dead bees. Neonicotinoids are synthetic pesticides that coat the seeds of a plant (not sprayed); while the plant grows, the toxins kill off insects, including our friends the bees. I can’t control disease in bees and I don’t spray any kind of pesticide near or in my home (there are always more natural ways to control insects without reaching for poison), but I can do something about their habitat. Bee houses provide local wild bees with shelter and protection from the elements. These ones were made by drilling holes into 3½” square wood offcuts (not chemically treated). Like us, bees like a little colour in their homes so once spring finally arrives, I will add some grasses and flowers to enhance the houses’ curb appeal. Spring is still a ways away so there’s still plenty of time to build your own bee house. Learn how at: Create a bee-friendly garden Make your own little Bee Houses
New!! Canadian Organic Growers is holding a Feed the Bees photo contest (deadline September 30, 2015).