What can you do
Our food choices are the most effective tool available to us for protecting not just pollinators, but the environment in general. Responsible consumers are those who are aware of the consequences of their choices. Be careful to choose foods that respect the environment (without polluting or over-exploiting resources), animal welfare, and the wellbeing of producers.
Helping pollinator insects is not difficult – it only requires learning to recognize these creatures and understand their behaviors. For example, bees of most species are solitary, but some create societies that last throughout the year. It is important to understand different species’ nesting habits, to know where and for what purposes they build their shelters, whether they dig tunnels in the ground, use cracks in walls or hollows in trees, and whether they use materials such as leaves or are capable of burrowing into wood.
With this information you can build “bug hotels” to offer insects protection and a place to reproduce. It is possible to accommodate pollinators of all types with these structures, whether they are ground nesters or cavity nesters.
We all know that pollinators feed on nectar and pollen, and that these food sources may be difficult for insects to find in heavily paved urban areas or intensively farmed fields under monocultures – in fact, feeding on flowers in these contaminated contexts can even be harmful for pollinators. Therefore, one way to help insects is to sow nectar-producing plants, particularly those that flower at times of the year when blossoms are less abundant. There is a huge range of plants that attract bees, including borage, lavender, mallow, rosemary, thyme, calendula, marigolds, vetch, and sainfoin, among many others.
But be careful: Unfortunately, many seeds marketed as “bee-friendly” have been chemically treated and have insecticidal properties, such that you might be poisoning bees even as you intend to help them. It is therefore crucial to be certain that you are using seeds and plants that have not undergone an insecticidal treatment. Here you can find seeds from the Bee the Future project.
Those of us lucky enough to have large spaces at our disposal can take especially decisive actions to protect pollinators: A garden or field with a rich mixture of fruit trees, vegetables, hedges, and flowers is prime habitat for honey bees, bumble bees, and butterflies. The more varied and healthy their surrounding environment, the better these insects are able to flourish and carry out their fundamental work as pollinators, ensuring the planet’s fertility.
Letting meadows blossom and maintaining flower borders or hedges around your field or garden provides food and shelter for pollinators and creates a biodiversity reservoir.
European agriculture is reaching a dead end. Day by day, the biological diversity that underpins our food systems is disappearing – putting the future of our food, our livelihood, health and environment under severe threat.
Bees and other pollinating insects, play a crucial role in biodiversity and agriculture. They form an integral part of our food system, pollinating crops that end up as food on our dinner tables.
Without bees, a large number of wild and cultivated plant species would no longer exist. For example, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) estimates that 71 out of some 100 crop species that provide 90% of food worldwide are bee-pollinated.