It is no secret that the world’s pollinators aren’t doing too well. Bees are in rapid decline, which isn’t good news for anyone. One in three calories of food for us comes from pollinators. Without them, we starve!
That’s why Cedar Rapids, a mid-sized town in Iowa, is dedicating 1,000 acres of land to protect their bees.
The city will start small with just 188 acres seeded with native grasses and wildflowers. This will build the foundation for expanding the bee’s natural habitat.
There are many different reasons why the pollinators are dying, from climate change to pesticides to natural causes, like disease and parasites. But one lesser-considered culprit is the lack of variety in local flowers.
When we use up all the land for farming, it doesn’t give the bees very much to work with. They may enjoy visiting squash flowers, but not exclusively squash flowers! Imagine if all you ate was squash…
Cedar Rapids is placing itself on the front lines of the battle to save the bee.
“With the agricultural boom around 100 years ago, about 99.9 percent of all the native habitat of Iowa has been lost,” says Cedar Rapids Park Superintendent Daniel Gibbins, who is spearheading the project.
“When you convert it back to what was originally native Iowa, you’re going to help a lot more than just native pollinators. You’re helping birds, amphibians, reptiles, mammals—everything that’s native here relies on native vegetation.”
The seed mix they’ll be spreading contains 39 species of wildflower and 7 species of grass. All of the plants are native to Iowa.
If you want to help the bees, don’t delay! It’s a little early to be planting in most places in the northern hemisphere, but start planning your summer gardens. If you have a sunny spot, wildflowers would love the opportunity to grow and bees would love the opportunity to visit them.
It’s also recommended that you do not use any insecticides or herbicides in your garden and, if you can, keep a hive or two in your yard!