Recently published research suggests that climate change is contributing to the disappearance of bumble bees from southern parts of their ranges in Europe and North America. Faced with such a situation, you might wonder what can be done. We can all find ways to reduce our carbon footprint to help address the root causes of climate change in the long term. Also, we can all help build resilience into our landscapes by creating habitat that will support insects. The more habitat there is and the better its quality, the better chance bees and butterflies will have to adapt to a changing environment.
The Xerces Society's Bring Back the Pollinators campaign promotes four principles that can be adapted to any location - grow flowers, provide nest sites, avoid pesticides, and share the word. Fill a window box with flowers. Add planters to a deck. Create a colorful garden border. Mix flowers with the vegetables in a community garden. Enhance the grounds of a school or church. You can do this is a city park, golf course, corporate or university campus, or farm. Insect habitat doesn't need to be big, but it should offer a mix of nectar-rich flowers and be free of insecticides. Another important consideration is ensuring that your landscape is drought tolerant.
If you are creating a pollinator garden, you're not alone. In June, First Lady Michelle Obama issued the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge on behalf of the newly created National Pollinator Garden Network. One million pollinator gardens (or other habitat patches) scattered across the U.S. will provide a safety net for bees, butterflies, and many other insects.
To make your garden count, go to Bring Back the Pollinators and sign the Pollinator Protection Pledge. Your garden will be added to the one million. If you've already signed the Pledge (and some 3,500 people have), don't worry, your garden will still count; existing gardens are being grandfathered in.