- Bees are pollinators and are essential in plant reproduction
- 75% of all crops for the human food supply rely on pollinators
- Organic produce helps to reduce the damage done to bees and other pollinators
- Organic crops are better for the environment and the human body
Learn why choosing organic matters: for our health, the environment, and pollinators! Plus, learn how you can support pollinators such as bees and butterflies this summer by growing a bee-friendly garden!
In celebration of Earth Day today, we wanted to share more about what motivates us to ensure that all of our products are Certified Organic! Earth Day is genuinely every day of the year for us - and we hope that this post inspires you to take action toward more environmentally sustainable choices. Whether it's by choosing organic, planting a bee-friendly garden, composting your food waste, or opting for more reusables - every little action counts!
Why Bees are At Risk
Bee populations around the world have plummeted in recent years due to the use of agricultural herbicides and pesticides - in particular neonics. Neonics are a class of neuro-active insecticides that are very toxic to bees. Neonics contribute to the declining bee population - causing mortality and at sub-lethal doses resulting in impaired navigation, fertility, memory, food collection, and disease resistance. You can read more about the detrimental effects of neonics here.
Many of our native bee species in Ontario, including the gypsy cuckoo, rusty patch bee, and yellow banded bumblebees, are at risk.
Why Pollinators Matter
Bees are ingenious! Here are a few fun facts about bees that may help earn your respect:
• In the winter, bees retreat to their hive and huddle around the Queen bee. They vibrate or "shiver" to create heat in the hive all winter long. They can keep the center of the hive close to 30°C throughout the winter
• To produce energy to keep the hive warm, bees need lots of honey to feed on all winter long! Bees can consume up to 30 lbs of honey can in one winter!
• Bees can communicate the exact direction and distance to pollen and nectar sources to other hive members using a unique "wiggle dance"! This dance involves a wiggle and a figure-eight movement that describes what direction and how far to fly to get to the food
Bees are a vital part of our environment and food supply, thanks to these fantastic evolutionary adaptations. Pollinators of all kinds (bees and butterflies) play an essential role in plant reproduction, which is also crucial for the survival of wildlife that depends on these plants for food. Successful pollination is needed for most plants to produce seeds or fruit!
Many crops, including almonds, avocados, onions, apples, berries, and others, rely on bees for pollination. Bees are responsible for every third bite of food that you eat, and they help pollinate over 80% of the world's flowering plants. An estimated 75% of all crops grown for human food supply rely on pollinators.
Why Choose Organic
Despite the challenges that our bees and other pollinators face, there is still a chance to make a difference! Choosing organic over "conventional" crops (those sprayed with pesticides and herbicides) is a great way to vote with your dollar and slowly but surely help limit the number of insecticides used for agricultural crops. Here are just a few reasons why choosing organic matters:
Ecological diversity - organic farms tend to have more ecological diversity, a preferred habitat for bees. This landscape biodiversity provides abundant food sources to support wild bee populations.
Reduce insecticide exposure - organic farms reduce exposure to harmful insecticides and neonics, therefore helping to conserve bee and pollinator populations. Choosing organic food for your consumption will also reduce your exposure to toxic herbicides, pesticides, and insecticides.
High-quality standards - Certified organic crops are not treated with synthetic pesticides, fertilizers, sewage sludge, genetically modified organisms, ionizing radiation, or growth hormones (for animals). (1) Eating organic is a great way to avoid consuming GMO foods, as organic certification standards don't permit the use of genetic engineering.
Pollution - Organic food production is meant to respect the environment through responsible use of soil, water, and air - therefore minimizing agricultural pollution. In addition, protecting the soil's long-term health (not stripping the soil of nutrients) is an essential factor.
Water quality - reduce chemical runoff and preserve groundwater quality.
Bee Friendly Gardening
You can make a difference by planting the right flowers and veggies in your backyard garden! Bees and other pollinators can thrive in both rural and urban settings.
Bees feed on two things: nectar and pollen. Nectar provides sugar, while pollen provides proteins and fats. A wide variety of heirloom native plants will provide the best food for native bees. Planting such a wide variety of flowers means that they will all bloom at different times throughout the spring and summer, keeping those bees sustained throughout the entire season.
The David Suzuki Foundation has curated an extensive list of plants that can help to attract and nourish pollinators:
- Attract Pollinators with Native Plants - Eastern Canada
- Attract Pollinators with Native Plants - Western Canada
In addition, the Butterflyway Project is a volunteer-led movement that has helped get 85,000 + butterfly-friendly wildflowers into the ground across Canada and create 6,000+ pollinator patches for wild bees and butterflies! Learn how you can join in on the Butterflyway project and take part next season.
For those in Ontario, this illustration of Pollinator Pals from Ontario Nature provides a list of pollinator-friendly plants to include in your garden!