MCALLEN, Texas (ValleyCentral)- According to AP, honeybees are dying at an alarming rate in the U.S. as 45.5% of their population has been lost between April 2020 and April 2021.
An Urban Ecologist with the Quinta Mazatlan World Birding Center, John Brush told ValleyCentral there are “three Ps” to why honeybees are dying off so dramatically.
The three Ps include pests, predators, and pesticides.
Pesticide is the number one killer and is caused by humans, according to Brush.
Another leading cause is the decline of pollinator habitats. Brush said people have changed the homes honeybees rely on to their own homes, parking lots, lawns, or other things.
Brush added this is why we tend to see honeybees in our attics or other parts of our homes because they’re running out of habitat options.
The USDA Forest Service reports bees are an essential ecological survival function. “Without bees, the human race and all of Earth’s ecosystems would not survive.”
Brush said people can do their part in saving the bees by planting pollinator habitats though. He can testify that it works as he’s done so in his own yard.
“I recently bought a house and one of the first things I did was I actually dug up some of my lawn. I dug up a strip of my lawn and I put wildflower seed in there,” said Brush. “I’ve already documented just in the past two weeks over five to seven different bee species utilizing that one patch of no more than like 100 square feet.”
If you don’t have a strip of lawn to plant on, Brush said even a pot of wildflower or native plant will make an impact.
If you’re interested in putting together a pollinator habitat, below are recommended pollinator-friendly plants.
- Skeletonleaf Goldeneye (Sidneya tenuifolia)
- Hairy Wedelia (Wedlia hispida)
- Scorpion-Tail (Heliotropium angiospermum)
- Whitebrush (Aloysia gratissima)
Below is a list of wildflowers that Brush recommends as well.
- Common Sunflower (Helianthus annuus)
- Cowpen Daisy (Verbesina encelioides)
- Firewheel (Gaillardia pulchella)
- Upright Praries Coneflower (Ratibida columnifera)
Brush said planting Common Sunflower will without a doubt attract bees.
Quinta Mazatlan is spreading this very education and so much more this weekend in celebration of May 20 being World Bee Day.
Saturday, May 21 will kick off at 10 a.m. with a ‘Buzzing Pollinator Walk’ with Brush.
The walk will include a “bee cooling” in which guests will have the opportunity to catch the bees and slow them down in cooler temperatures to get a closer look at the Rio Grande Valley’s pollinators.
Brush said he has gone through the “bee cooling” dozens of times before and can attest that once the bees warm back to their normal speed, you will not be stung.
The other event Quinta Mazatlan is hosting is called “Science Saturdays.” This will be available from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. and then again from 11 a.m. to noon.
Children will have the opportunity to learn how they can help support their local bees by creating more habitats and making their own “bee hotel.”
Although May 20 will be full of educational opportunities on bees, Brush said there’s a lighter message behind it all.
“Personally, as an environmental educator, one of my main things that I want people to take away is just to have fun in nature. I just want people to get outside and enjoy wildlife,” added Brush. “Enjoying and being in the green spaces that places like the city of McAllen have to offer.”
Each of these events will be free with park admission.
If you’re unable to attend Quinta Mazaltan’s bee-related events, Brush said the center will have similar ones for Pollinator Week from June 20 to June 26.
Brush also said the center will have “Flashlight Nights” every Tuesday during the summer where guests will hike during the nighttime. “We actually do see some interesting bees and pollinators at night.”