Bee is a special kind of insect, that even scriptures mentioned the presence of this small creature. But why is this creature special for us? Well, actually there are so many reasons to be mentioned, but the most well-known one is being natural pollinator.
The problem is, bee population is declining significantly in this modern days. Playing an important part in the nature, the decline should have affected our environment, which is indeed true. In many parts of the world where bee population is declining, the downfall is followed by the number of produces.
So, less bees means less food for us, while the number of mouths to feed keeps increasing. Does this mean that the decline may bring further threat to overall human population? Most likely so, because researchers said that one of three foods we eat depends on natural pollinators.
This is the reason why researchers are trying to save bee population worldwide. And to do that, there is a specific option that they choose: planting wildflowers.
The 40% Or More
For the past 10 years, declining bee population has come up to the surface. Not because medias are taking this topic for a boost on ratings, but because this is a fact that every one of us needs to be aware of before it is too late.
The number was about 30% when the news began to rise, but in recent years, it has grown into 40% or more. In other words, we are losing about half the numbers of bees compared to the years of 1990s. however, since 1990s, there are about 1 billion more humans on this planet.
With less bees and more humans, theoretically we are consuming more foods than the nature can provide us. If this thing keeps on going to happen, then we are under the threat of food scarcity. And we can already read the signs nowadays.
Do you find that the price of vegetables and fruits are rising nowadays? Or do you find the quality and the quantity of those products are not what it used to be? Indeed, the amount of produces is starting to decline, in addition to less and less land to grow, the threat might come faster than we predicted.
So, what do we need to do to prevent the disaster to happen? It is pretty simple actually, just bring back the population of bees to what it used to be, or maybe we need more of them. Luckily, this is what the researchers are working on.
Power of Wildflower
In this year’s United Nation biodiversity conference, the decline of bee population all around the world has become a hot topic. The plan that being brought up to solve the problem is to devote a quarter of cropland to flowering economic crops, like oil seeds and forage plants.
But by using this plant, it means that we have to sacrifice some amount of our crops for another purposes. The alternative is by opening new lands for planting such kind of plantation, which requires a lot of money and efforts.
Stefanie Christmann, a researcher from International Center for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas, suggested an idea that doesn’t require much new land or money to solve this problem. Christmann’s plan also doesn’t require us to sacrifice our crops: planting wildflowers.
The method that she calls as “farming alternative pollinators” is the result of Christmann’s 5 years work to find the solution of the problem. She has also conducted a field test to validate the method in Uzbekistan and Morocco.
“There is a very low barrier so anyone in even the poorest country can do this. There is no equipment, no technology and only a small investment in seeds. It is very easy. You can demonstrate how to do it with pictures sent on a cellphone,” she said as quoted from The Guardian.
Multitasking Versus Multibillions
Wildflowers are chosen not only because they are cheap to plant, but also because wildflowers are kind of ‘multitaskers’ in the environment. The presence of wildflowers can also beautify the environment while giving specific benefits according to the species.
“The entire environment would be richer, more beautiful and more resilient to climate change. We would have many more insects, flowers and birds. And it would be far more self-sustaining. Even the poorest countries in the world could do this,” said Christmann.
But working on this plan, Christmann admitted, is not going about rainbows and butterflies. There are many factors that can hamper the rescue mission, especially jealousy from giant agrochemical companies all around the world.
“I think Monsanto won’t like this because they want to sell their pesticides and this approach reduces pests naturally,” she said. Monsanto was a well-known American multibillion agricultural company with enormous power that has been acquired by Bayer, another multibillion company from Germany.
Thus, she is asking for support from bigger powerhouses to make this plan work out, such as the governments and global environmental groups. “This cannot wait. The bees, flies and butterflies need urgent action. I’m 59 now and I want to get them globally protected before I retire so I have to hurry,” she said.
What Can We Do?
So, while the scientists are fighting for the bees against those companies, should we just watch and wait for the result? Well, the fight should take a very long time, and instead of just watching the fight, we can actually do something: starting a guerilla attack!
The guerilla attack we can do is planting the wildflowers ourselves to save the bees. It might be small, but an important action to do. Here we list some beautiful wildflowers that you can plant by yourself to participate in this ‘guerilla attack’.
The first is Bolander’s Sunflower, that has bright color and frequently used as decoration purpose. This plant is growing pretty well in any kind of environment and native wildflower weeds of this plant is pretty easy to find.
The next is California Phacelia, which mostly used for the purpose we are talking about, becoming the plant to save pollinators. This plant is drought tolerant and has medicinal purpose, apart from its beautiful purple blooms.
And the next wildflower that we can use as a weapon in this ‘guerilla mission’ is California Poppy. This flower is a powerhouse producer of pollen, which can greatly help the bees to build strong hives. This is also the most practical wildflower that you can plant yourselves.