I'm not a fan of gardening. Like baking, I can do it, but I don't really like it. It feels like a chore. I do, however, like food, and the fact that bees are our main pollinators and dying off at an alarming rate alarms me. So I plant flowers and avoid garden centers that use neonicotinoids as pesticides, and try hard to not cringe when dandelions bloom on our property. It might not be much, and maybe won't have a massive impact overall, but if my garden or deck boxes provide a small oasis for some local bees, then I know I've done something to address the problem. Here's another article about this in Wikipedia.
I have a little bit of personal involvement in this issue. When I was a little girl I used to visit what we called "the farm". My grandpa was a beekeeper. The first time I saw those bees winging their way from the house to the fields was terrifying to me, being a city girl through and through. But he and my dad pulled me aside to watch them as they flew to the water barrel next to the house and back out to the fields or wherever they were going. He showed me that they weren't going out of their way to scare me, that if you respect them and give them their space, they would work hard doing what they do- to my young eyes, the only thing they did was make honey for me to take home- but that was a good enough lesson to stick with me for a lifetime.
My mom loves gardening. She always thought I would get to the point in my life where it was something I would eventually enjoy, that it must be an inherited trait. It's really, really not. But as I said, I like food. So my boys (especially my second son) and I are taking care of our "crops"- this year, we're growing flowers and a few herbs, and my first son is growing a bean stalk and a pea plant- we'll keep them protected (as much as possible) from hail and drought. I will take the time needed to deadhead them. I will use my lemongrass, basil and thyme with gratitude, and I hope to sit out on the deck and enjoy the buzz of the bees as they appreciate the effort we went to in order to give them some flowers to visit. My boys are learning that food actually comes from somewhere other than a store, which I think is a helpful thing for them to learn.
Planting flowers does improve our community overall, I think. When spring and summer are such fleeting seasons for us here in Alberta, it does make a heart happy to see and smell flowers and plants growing and thriving, green and blooming. It gives other species a place of peace and rest too, such as birds and butterflies. It is so fun to watch birds chase each other around, to listen to them sing, or to find a place to nest in your clematis. And larger than our local community, giving space for these pollinators will help with global needs. It's not just here that we would lose our pollinators- a world wide food shortage will be the outcome if we lose our bees. We need to be more globally focused and think about what we can do for the earth as a whole. It's a shared space, and we are a village, albeit a pretty large one.
I don't know if the bees will come to my house this year. I've learned a lot about bees in the last few years, ever since a bunch of them spent a summer living in the dirt under our deck. But I hope they'll return; there aren't many in our neighborhood the last few years. I'm going with a lesson learned and deliberately misquoted from Field of Dreams, a movie from several years ago: "If you build it, they will come". (Misquoting makes more sense in this context!)
Peace and love, friends. Enjoy your weekend.
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