Inviting Bees to the City

By Christy Erickson, September 8, 2017

The city, with its overpopulation of skyscrapers, isn’t exactly the most inviting place for bees to call home, yet it can be and it should be, especially in today’s' bee-drought world. By activating your inner urban gardener, you can make a place for bees in the crannies of green hiding between those tall buildings, in the plots of land left unused, on rooftops, and on fire escapes adorning those apartment complexes. Read on to find out how...

What is Urban Gardening:

Simply put, urban gardening refers to growing plants in busier environments using unconventional practices; it refers to gardening in cities that are void of green-spaces, sprouting flowers and crops in containers on balconies, in little scraps of dirt on the sidewalk and in apartment window sills. Urban gardening also includes starting/joining a community garden in an effort to strengthen the community and invite the pollinators.

Why are Bees Such a Big Deal:

The majority of the food industry is reliant on the cross-pollinating power of the misunderstood bee. Without their pollination, a massive percentage of the crops that we enjoy would cease to grow, and many flowers that keep the earth beautiful would disappear. Produce such as mangos, plums, peaches, nectarines, and kiwi fruits are pollinated by the bees, as well as onions, strawberries, apricots, avocados, cashews, okra and much more.  So yes, it is safe to say that bees are a big deal.

However, in the recent years, the bees have been disappearing both in the wild and in domesticated regions. A study published in journal PLOS ONE recalls scientific evidence that widespread use of pesticides and fungicides are largely responsible for the decline of bees. Additional research has also linked loss of habitat, disease and climate change to their decline. We are responsible for their low numbers. Therefore, we must help inspire their triumphant return, even if we live in the city.

Five Ways to Urban Garden:

1.  Start a movement: There is greater progress when there is teamwork. Starting a movement of urban gardeners would greatly help the efforts of inviting pollinators to the city. You can spread the word by posting instructions on social media, inviting other gardeners to a specific area to garden.

2.  Throw bee-friendly seed bombs: Bee-friendly seed bombs are biodegradable balls of seeds that sprout when thrown in grasses. The seeds used should be friendly to pollinators and come from organic, non-GMO sources. You can carry these tiny bombs around with you and casually throw them wherever you see an opportunity for growth.

3.  Leave potted plants: Leaving potted plants on corners of staircases and storefronts and wherever else you see fit is a generous way to urban garden. Flowers such as lavender, forget-me-nots, poppy, and blanket flowers would add beauty to these areas while providing nectar for the bees.

4.  Start a community garden: Starting a community garden can be very rewarding and beneficial for both the bee community as well as the local community. The first step would be to find a site that has nutritious soil and gets good sunlight. Then you must get a lease agreement to make things legal. Now you should gather a group of volunteers, determine the crops you wish to grow, clean the site, design the garden, plant the crops, manage the garden organically (no harsh pesticides), harvest the crops and gaze upon the pollinators.

5.  Start a living roof: A living roof refers to managing a rooftop garden. You may need professional help if you wish to implement a larger garden with beds. However, a simple container garden would be enough to attract pollinators.

In order to keep the bees buzzing around, you must keep revisiting the sites that you have planted and bombed. You need to water your grounds and keep the area clean and bee-friendly. Then you can step back and marvel at the sight of the crops you helped sprout and the bees you have invited to the city.

Christy Erickson's aim is to collect and distribute the most accurate and up-to-date resources on the bee crisis and information on how to help in the community. She is the founder of Savingourbees.org.

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