At last there's a glimmer of hope for stopping the monarch's death spiral. The US Fish & Wildlife Service is investing several million dollars in partnership projects with the National Wildlife Federation, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and others to produce milkweed seeds and to plant vast areas in locally native milkweed along the monarch butterfly's major flyway routes.
Planting locally native milkweed is something each of us can do. To identify which milkweed is local to your area and to find seeds or plants, visit the Monarch Joint Venture. Not only will the monarch butterfly thank you, so will more than seventy other pollinator species that forage on milkweed.
Sit back and enjoy the beautifully articulated article written by Landscape Designer Danielle Bilot for THE FIELD: The Professional Landscape Architects Network.
Danielle has masterfully explained why Bee City USA was launched: "Urban areas have their own challenges [as opposed to agricultural areas] in creating integrative biological solutions, but cities are in a unique position to create a safe haven for pollinators because of the quantity and dispersal of underused land use types. Roadside strips, medians, surface parking lots, etc. all possess great potential to contribute positively toward natural ecosystems, but currently most hold very little ecological value. We have forgone diversity in the urban landscape for ease of permitting/maintenance, mass plant production techniques, and over-manicured aesthetics."
Thank you, Danielle. We agree, there is much we can do to sustain pollinators in urban and suburban areas.
According to a New York Times article published November 25, bee specimens collected in North America and Europe and stored in museums and university labs over the past 140 years are shedding light on what's causing the decline of wild bees. "Nearly a third of bumblebee species in the United States are declining. In the Netherlands, more than half of the country’s 357 species of wild bees are endangered. Many species of plants, including crops, depend on wild bees to spread their pollen. When they lose their pollinators, they may suffer, too," says author Carl Zimmer.
All told, scientists studied 30,000 specimens. They found that in the Northeastern United States, the diversity of bumblebee species declined by 30 percent, and the diversity of bee species overall, by 15 percent between 1872 and 2011.
A new study by numerous scientists was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this week. One of them, Jeroen Scheper, a graduate student at Alterra, a research institution at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, said, "There were a lot more flowers in the landscape before." In other words, the fate of the diminished or extinct species was tied to the fate of the plants they pollinated, many of which had been replaced by crops.
Mr. Schleper and his colleagues believe that without the preferred kind of pollen, the bee larvae suffered; and that bigger bees were at greater risk than smaller bees. The story cautions that in addition to the loss of food sources, bee declines may also be due to the loss of nesting sites.
Header photo by: Nancy Lee Adamson
These are the opinions and events of interest to the Bee City USA director and board.