We know that in the coming years, local action to protect pollinators is going to be more important than ever. That’s why Friends of the Earth and the Responsible Purchasing Network released a new guide to help cities across the country protect bees, butterflies and other essential pollinators. People across the country can be a part of the solution to this crisis by working to pass pollinator protection policies in their cities.
A growing body of science links pollinator population declines to the widespread use of pollinator-toxic pesticides, especially neonicotinoids (neonics), the most widely used insecticide in the world, and glyphosate, the most widely used herbicide in the world. Pollinator policies can eliminate the use of these harmful pesticides and incentivize the planting of pollinator-friendly habitat that includes native, drought-tolerant plants.
This new guide outlines all of the steps individuals and city officials can take to help protect pollinators. It’s based on the landmark policies of the nearly 100 retailers, universities, cities and states that are leading the way in pollinator protection.
Along with working to pass a pollinator protection policy, everyone can do their part to save bees and other pollinators that we rely on for one of every three bites of food we eat. You can take the following simple actions to be a pollinator champion.
8 simple steps to help your city save bees:
- Plant pollinator friendly habitat
Plant native vegetation to attract pollinators using the Xerces Society’s “Pollinator Friendly Plant Lists.” This step will increase the biodiversity of your yard or garden while providing forage for bees, butterflies and birds. To control weeds, use mechanical methods (like barriers or physical removal), biological methods (like placing nematodes and other microorganisms in your garden) and least-toxic gardening methods, like organic.
- Let weeds grow
Mow the lawn less often to let clover and other flowering weeds grow. These will provide a nutritious habitat for bees and other pollinators. Avoid products that are meant to kill clover and other flowering weeds.
- Transition to an organic land management system
Avoid fungicides, insecticides and other toxic pesticides whenever possible. An Oxford University study found that organic farms support more life and more biodiversity than conventional alternatives. They also support 50 percent more pollinators than conventional methods.
- Provide community education
Encourage your neighbors and other city residents to follow similar practices on their property. Circulate educational materials to help with responsible land management and teach your peers why pollinators are so important!
- Advocate for green rooftops in your city
Green rooftops are a great way to create pollinator habitat in urban areas! Ask your city council to provide incentives for residents to make their rooftops diverse, pollinator-friendly habitat to support these critical species.
- Provide nesting sites for bees
Nesting sites include wood or sand areas for burrowing. Consider installing beehives on your new green rooftop! Forage is important, but you can go a step further by giving pollinators a full-time home on your property. Just make sure to ask your local beekeepers association for advice and instructions.
- Relocate (rather than destroy) hives
Contact a removal service or a local beekeeping organization to help with hive removal if it is becoming a safety hazard on your property.
- Buy certified organic agricultural products
Neonicotinoids are used on a wide variety of products including citrus, cotton, grapes, tomatoes, rice, canola, corn and soybeans. Buying organic products ensures that you are not consuming neonics or promoting their use! Research shows that organic farms support up to 50 percent more pollinators than conventional farms.