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Bees, Butterflies and Bats Beneficial for Farmers

11 May

We cultivate land because we can make money from it. Our world is based on monetary gain, therefore not extracting minerals or metals, not hunting, logging or growing crops means that the land can not make money for the its owner. And that’s the reason our natural lands are in danger. It’s basic economics. 

The way to keep land wild is to find a way to make as much money from the land without changing it. This gives the owner incentive to leave the land untouched. Organisms that pollinate can help raise the value of nearby crops. In an article published by Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment  Lora Morandin and Mark Winston, scientists at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia have developed a cost–benefit model that estimated the profit of canola agroecosystems located near uncultivated land. The canola crops located within 750 meters of uncultivated lands, had the highest yields and profits. They concluded that this increase was caused by  a higher abundance of bees.

Native plants naturally attract bees, so leaving land uncultivated makes sense as a way to draw natural pollinators to specific areas.  Bees, butterflies and bats are responsible for pollinating 1/3 of all food crops. The USDA has valued this pollination at $14 billion dollars annually, according to a Cornell study. Farmers know the value of bee pollination and hire companies to bring bees to their crops and pollinate the crops for them. 

Pollination is so important because it determines the size of the yields. Pollination enables fertilization and reproduction in plants. Therefore, the maximum number of offspring is determined by the amount of pollination. Then once the plants are pollinated water, nitrogen and pesticides can be added to prevent losses, but they can not add to the total number of crops. 

Farmers understand the importance of pollinators. Gardeners can gain the same benefits from pollinators. There are tons of websites that tell which pollinators like which plants. The pollinators primary food source is the pollen and nectar from these plants.  So, the pollinators are actively searching for flowers to pollinate. If a gardener can draw a bee to his garden with a specific type of flower or crop, the entire garden will benefit (like the canola fields). Conversely, if the farmer or gardener uses pesticides that kill bees and butterflies less pollination will occur. 

The whole garden doesn’t need to be dedicated to native or specific pollinator friendly plants, just parts. A gardener can create an oasis in his garden that attracts pollinators. Not only is he helping his garden he is also helping migratory pollinators like monarch butterflies and bats. They need places to stop and feed during their annual migrations

Protecting bee, butterfly and bat populations by planting flowers for them and decreasing the use of pesticides is vital for their survival. Bee populations have plummeted in the United States. Managed hive populations are down 50% and feral populations are nearly gone. The loss of bees will have a devastating impact on gardening and farming. Bees provide cheap labor, increase fruit quality, increase plant productivity, decrease air pollen and they pollinate in cold and windy weather. They would be very difficult to replace. Bees are proof that humans aren’t able to do everything better than nature. 

 
1 Comment

Posted by on May 11, 2009 in Sustainable Agriculture

 

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One response to “Bees, Butterflies and Bats Beneficial for Farmers

  1. aaanimals

    May 18, 2009 at 12:29 pm

     

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