This July, Équiterre suggests a nice, simple summer activity: add nectar-producing plants to your garden or balcony to attract pollinating insects—including precious bees!
The global population of pollinators, both vertebrate (birds, bats, etc.) and invertebrate (honeybees, bumblebees, butterflies) is declining drastically, largely as the result of human activity. This environmental and social problem has been attributed to a number of factors, including invasive and intensive agricultural practices, single-crop farming, and the large-scale use of pesticides and herbicides (especially neonicotinoids), as well as climate change.
Pollinators (insects, birds and bats) play a huge part in maintaining the ecological balance and feeding human populations. “Without pollinators, many of us would no longer be able to enjoy coffee, chocolate and apples, among many other foods that are part of our daily lives,” according to Simon Potts, co-chair of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services global assessment of pollinators. Bees and butterflies play a crucial role in plant growth and yield. Pollination is vital to the global production of fruits and vegetables: at least three quarters of crops (grains, fruits, vegetables, oilseeds, etc.) around the world depend in part on pollinators for plant growth, yield and quality.
HOW TO HELP POLLINATORS
There are several simple things you can do to attract pollinators and thus help maintain biodiversity:
- Grow nectar plants on your balcony or in your garden
- Give top priority to colourful, fragrant, flavourful plants (to attract more pollinators)
- Favour wildflowers that we too often pull as weeds (like meadowsweet, Queen Anne’s lace, daisies, English daisies, dandelions)
- Don’t forget to put in aromatic plants that not only smell good, but are really tasty (like dill, coriander, sage, thyme and summer savoury)
- Don’t give up if you only have a balcony! You can create a nice little quiet green space with flowers that attract butterflies, bees and birds
- Set up a neighbourhood committee to create a green alley with flamboyant flowers and nectar-bearing plants
- Sign up for a community garden plot— a great way to meet your neighbours, produce food locally and attract pollinators
Here’s a full list of nectar plants.
For more information:
Task Force on Systemic Pesticides
Canadian Wildlife Federation