‘Without bees, the human race wouldn’t survive:’ local ecologist explains how to save a species
MCALLEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — According to AP, bees are dying at an alarming rate in the United States, as 45.5% of their population was lost between April 2020 and April 2021.
An urban ecologist at Quinta Mazatlan World Birding Center, John Brush, told ValleyCentral there are “three Ps” to why bees are dying off so dramatically.
The three Ps include pests, predators and pesticides.
According to Brush, the pesticide is the number one killer and is man-made.
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Another major cause is the decline of pollinator habitats. Brush said people have changed the homes that bees rely on to their own homes, parking lots, lawns or whatever.
Brush added that this is why we tend to see bees in our attics or other parts of our homes because they lack habitat options.
The USDA Forest Service reports bees are an essential ecological survival function. “Without bees, the human race and all of Earth’s ecosystems would not survive.”
Brush said people can do their part to save the the bees by planting pollinator habitats. He can testify that it works as he did in his own backyard.
“I recently bought a house and one of the first things I did was dig up part of my lawn. I dug up a strip of my lawn and put some wildflower seeds in it. “Brush said. “I have already documented over the past two weeks over five to seven different bee species using this 100 square foot plot or less.
If you don’t have a strip of lawn to plant, Brush said even a pot of wildflowers or native plants would have an impact.
If you want to create a habitat for pollinators, below are some recommended pollinator-friendly plants.
- Skeleton-leaved Goldeneye (Sidneya tenuifolia)
- Hairy Wedelia (Wedlia hispida)
- Scorpion tail (Heliotropium angiospermum)
- Whitebrush (Aloysia gratissima)
Below is a list of wildflowers that Brush also recommends.
- Common sunflower (Helianthus annuus)
- Cowpen’s Daisy (Verbesina encelioides)
- Wheel of fire (Gaillardia pulchella)
- Echinacea of standing clams (Ratibida columnifera)
Brush says planting Common Sunflower will definitely attract bees.
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Quinta Mazatlan is broadcasting that same education and more this weekend to celebrate May 20, World Bee Day.
Saturday, May 21 will begin at 10 a.m. with a “buzzing pollinator walk” with Brush.
The walk will include a “bee chill” during which guests will have the opportunity to catch bees and slow them down in cooler temperatures to get a closer look at pollinators in the Rio Grande Valley.
Brush said he’s been through the “bee chill” dozens of times before and can attest that once the bees have warmed up to their normal speed, you won’t get stung.
The other event organized by Quinta Mazatlan is called “Science Saturdays”. This will be available from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. and then from 11 a.m. to noon.
Children will have the opportunity to learn how they can help support their local bees by creating more habitats and creating their own ‘bee hotel’.
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Although May 20 is full of educational opportunities about bees, Brush said there’s a lighter message behind it all.
“Personally, as an environmental educator, one of the main things I want people to take away is just to have fun in nature. I just want people to get out and enjoy the wildlife,” Brush added, “Enjoying and being in the green spaces that places like the town of McAllen have to offer.”
Each of these events will be free with admission to the park.
If you can’t attend Quinta Mazaltan’s bee-related events, Brush said the center will hold similar ones for Pollinator Week June 20-26.
Brush also said the center will host “Flashlight Nights” every Tuesday in the summer, where patrons will hike overnight. “We actually see some interesting bees and pollinators at night.”