Celebrating Pollinator Week

Hurray it’s pollinator week!

The Bee Mama

Leafcutter bee

To celebrate, I’m going to focus on one bee-friendly plant or bee variety every day this week.
While some sites are going to tell you to go BUY plants to put into your garden to help the pollinators, I’m going to do something radical. I’m going to encourage you to try to FIND these plants in your area.
Then, if you’ve got a smartphone with your GPS turned on, I’d like to ask you to map them on Googlemaps on this map HERE) so that we can share information about where we are, and what is already there.
Most of the plants I’ll be focusing on are American (North and South) because that is where I live and what I know – so if you live on another continent and happen to notice bees going to certain plants there, let us know.
Wherever you are, we’d love to see your photos – so take a picture of the plants in your area that bees really take a liking to. Share that picture with us HERE.

Remember most bees CAN sting – so give them space.

Significant Women – Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou has inspired many people through her own personal story and through the stories, poems and other works she has created.

Her phrase “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” is one of the ones that keeps me doing what I do each and every day.

Every morning, I wake with the vision to create a world where people, plants and pollinators can live in harmony. I try my best to do that for myself and my family. I try to share what I have learned with others, because they also see the challenges that we as humans will have to face if there are no pollinators left. I try to empower people to live more harmoniously with bees and pollinators.

As I discovered yesterday, after tweeting about how Rachel Carson’s work had birthed the modern environmental movement, not everyone agrees with what I’m going to say.

Rather than getting upset with these people who attacked me for supporting Rachel Carson (and standing against having DDT sprayed everywhere) I can stop and think about what their concerns are. I heard them say that not managing mosquitoes with DDT is the reason that millions of people have died of malaria. And while they are correct, they are only correct to a certain degree.

The reason that people are dying from malaria is NOT ONLY because of mosquitoes and lack of mosquito control. One also has to consider that part of the problem is that there isn’t a corporate desire to make malaria vaccines accessible and affordable for everyone who needs it. There are governments who are afraid of multinational corporations causing harm to their citizens by using them as test subjects, rather than giving them the proper medication. There are lobby groups and political agendas that we have no idea who is doing what to whom. Simply saying that colonialist thinking is what is killing children in Africa is oversimplifying a problem.

The way I see it, this is an imperfect world. It’s still a beautiful world. I love living on it, and I am going to do everything within my power (with reason) to keep it beautiful and diverse.

I do not have ALL The solutions to ALL the WORLD’s problems. I can’t solve everything and make everyone happy. I accept that too.

What I can solve and what I want to solve is how people perceive bees and pollinators, and to help them live in greater harmony together. I want to do that through education, entertainment and celebration of the beauty of our world. If you want to learn more about bees and pollinators, if you want to simply admire them or to learn how to provide for them, please join the Bee Mama Family.

Stirring the hornet’s nest

By http://www.naturespicsonline.com/ [CC-BY-SA-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons

My alarm clock

Yesterday morning I woke to the sound of birdsong. For a brief moment, I was a bit annoyed that the bird had chosen my window to chirrup his welcome to the sun. I half dreamt of whipping an imaginary BB gun out from under my bed, yanking my bedroom window open and opening fire on the bird who had been dared to wake my from my slumber. But then I yawned,  stretched, rubbed my eyes and jumped out of bed, refreshed and ready for the day.

Ever since I was a child, I have always been the one to wake with the birds. Some children like to sleep in. Not me! When I went to visit my grandparents in Montreal, my grandfather and I would wake with the birds and he would make me the best breakfast sitting at the formica kitchen table. Together we would get ready to go fishing on the Lachine River in winter; in spring and summer we would go for a walk to the local park, the dew shimmering on the grass. Dawn, and birdsong are precious to me.

As soon as the sun is peeking over the horizon, when the first birds start singing their welcome to the sun, that’s when I love to wake up . It’s always been a special time for me, that time before everything and everyone starts rushing around. Just me, the sun, the morning and the birds. It’s peaceful, quiet, and I can think clearly (sometimes even without coffee)!

So yesterday, I gave thanks that there were birds to wake me. And the reason I was able to give thanks was partly because of a woman woman whose words, 50 years ago, sparked an intense awareness and movement to protect the environment, with the publication of her book, Silent Spring. Rachel Carson was an ocean biologist, conservationist and author. Her book talked about the consequences of applying large quantities of DDT on land/marsh and stream in an effort to control mosquito populations. She raised the flag that showed what harm was being done not only to mosquitoes, but also to the species which ate mosquitoes (frogs and birds), to the soil, the water, and ultimately, to ourselves.

If she was still around, Rachel Carson would have been 107 years old yesterday.Her work is as valid now as it was more than 50 years ago. Thank you, Rachel, for your legacy. Thank you for raising the flag, and making us all aware of how killing off mosquitoes would lead to a Silent Spring.

Bumblebees and dandelions

 

I love watching the bumblebees as they fly around … one has taken to flying around in our back yard and (I think) may be looking for a place to make its nest. This bumblebee has a strong liking for dandelion flowers. This may be due to the fact that dandelions are, right now, one of the few plants in flower in the area. I will have to wait and see what the bumblebee decides is tastiest once the other flowering trees and plants start to bloom.

the bee mama pretty bumblebee

While some people see the dandelion as a plant which is undesirable, this hardy plant is one that is very important to many pollinators, particularly the early spring pollinators. Dandelion grows in large patches (much to the chagrin of many a gardener or landscaper), which makes it easy for bees to find. You see, bees have difficulty seeing just ONE flower from a distance. On the other hand, when flowering plants are planted in patches of about 4 feet square, it is almost like a beacon for bees to help them find lots of food, quickly.  Dandelion is one of the earliest to bloom, and is the perfect shape and size for big bumble bees to land on and eat from.

So before you go crazy with herbicide, or yank all the dandelions in a fit of rage, think again. By leaving dandelions on your lawn, you help wild pollinators find the food they need to be healthy and strong, and to preserve our food security. If you must pull dandelions at all, wait until the yellow head has closed, then remove the tops and dispose of them in your compost. Don’t wait too long, though, or they will go to seed and spread even more dandelions across your lawn.

 

Spring Activity

One of the things that I love to do (almost any time of year, as long as it’s not BITTER cold) is going for a walk or hike. After such a cold, snowy winter (compared to the winter that I had gotten used to in British Columbia) I am really looking forward to going out and exploring my neighborhood and seeing what there is to see.

Spring is a time of great activity in the plant and animal kingdom. Everything is rushing around trying to make up for the time when it was sleeping during winter. In less than a week, the ground went from mottled yellow color to a vibrant green. The trees shrugged, and their leaves unfurled. Yesterday morning, my daughter observed that the choke cherry, service berry and crab apple trees were in full bloom. It has been a sudden change.

The other day, my daughter and I took a stroll through the lightly forested area around our house. While we were out, I gave her my cell phone and told her she could take pictures of anything she wanted to. Amazingly, not only did she want to capture some of the images of these beautiful flowers, but also of the diverse types of bees that live right here. I wanted to take a moment to share these images with you so that you, too, can see the beauty of the plants and bees where we live.

The Bee Mama

honey bee in dandelion

Dandelions are good for bees

Dandelions are good for bees

native plant species are good for bees

native plant species are good for bees

bee mama spring flowers

blue wild flowers

blue wild flowers

purple wild flowers

purple wild flowers