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Posts tagged ‘pollinators’

Going Green at Home: Support Pollinators

Spring is here! While many of our normal spring activities are cancelled this year, there are still plenty of ways to enjoy springtime in Utah and do your part for the planet.

Maybe you’re a skilled gardener, or maybe you want a new hobby to brighten up your front yard. Whatever the case may be, one of the best ways to go green from home is to make a home for pollinators.

A photograph of a monarch butterfly sharing a milkweed plant with a bee.
Both monarchs and bees love nectar-rich plants like milkweed.

Make Your Yard a Monarch Waystation

The migratory monarch butterflies help pollinate natural spaces across the country. Sadly, habitat loss has lead to a rapid decline in monarch populations that mirrors declines in other pollinator species. In the Rocky Mountains, the monarch butterfly population has declined over 97%.

However, we can help monarchs by giving them their favorite plant: milkweed. Monarchs love milkweed. In fact, it is the only plant that monarch caterpillars eat. Without milkweed, monarchs cannot survive. You can help protect monarchs and other pollinators by creating a monarch friendly habitat or waystation in your yard.

In Utah, the Showy Milkweed and Swamp Milkweed are the most common milkweed species. Adult monarchs and other pollinators also benefit from having other native nectar-rich plants around. You can order milkweed seeds from Save Our Monarchs or your favorite seed seller. Find more information about Utah’s native plants here!

Another way to support monarch conservation is by becoming a Citizen Scientist. Help track milkweed and monarchs throughout the state and contribute to our scientific understanding of monarch populations and habitats. By protecting monarchs, we support biodiversity in our local environments.

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It’s Not Too Late: Go Pesticide Free!

Since last spring, little green hexagonal signs have been blooming in Salt Lake City gardens. These Pesticide Free Yard signs are part of the Salt Lake City Pesticide Free Campaign in partnership with Healthy Babies Bright Futures (HBBF). HBBF encourages residents to protect our families and the environment by eliminating pesticide use.

Salt Lake City’s Sustainability Department teamed up with Beyond Pesticides to guide residents who want to keep their gardens beautiful without using harmful chemicals. And it’s working! Since 2018, over 340 individuals have pledged to go pesticide free.

And even though summer is coming to a close, you can still go pesticide free in your yard. Eliminating your use of toxic chemicals is a year-round challenge that will protect your family and neighborhood.

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Celebrate Pollinators at “Bee Fest” this Saturday

by SLCgreen Intern Atticus Olmedo

Bee Fest is on June 15!

Pollinators: we need them! And this Saturday, June 15, you can join Catalyst Magazine, Wasatch Community Gardens, and Slow Food Utah to help celebrate pollinators at the 9th Annual Bee Fest.

The event, which kicks off Pollinator Week (June 17-23), will be abuzz with pollinator activities including poetry readings, bee-friendly craft projects, games, and even an all-ages costume contest. If you care about pollinators, you won’t want to miss Bee Fest!

We’ll be there tabling and discussing our Pesticide Free SLC campaign. Come by, say hi, and pick up your free yard sign to show your commitment to chemical-free yard care that supports pollinators (and our health and environment).

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The Plight of the Honey Bee

I’m sure we’ve all felt the sting of being under appreciated at work. You stayed late, you finished those extra reports, you responded to those emails, you filed those papers; maybe you even cleaned up the office. And the next day, it feels as if no one noticed; the office is, once again, a mess.

Now imagine this scenario: you are less than an inch tall. Your job is to visit and tend to hundreds of clients every day, and report all gains back to your busy and dominating boss. Your extensive efforts provide the means to feed humans around the globe on a daily basis, and numerous other species as well. You work tirelessly in the heat for no pay.

And what do you find in return? Your clients move without warning, your business fades, and you notice a sudden rash of health crises within your company, putting you dangerously close to falling out of business for good.

Have you guessed yet?

I’m talking about the invaluable honey bee.

Although they may not understand the concept of being overlooked, the honey bee is arguably the most under appreciated worker on the planet. In addition to pollinating endless species of flowers to ensure their survival, studies performed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture have revealed that honey bee pollination provides us with 1/3 of all foods we consume.

In a more specific evaluation, the Department showed the extent to which certain foods depend on honey bee pollination for survival: peaches rely 80%, cotton relies 80%, apples depend 90%, and almonds depend 100% on pollination for production. What’s more, these four treasured products only scratch the surface.

Based on this information, it’s safe to say that our grocery stores would look entirely different without the beneficial work that honey bees provide. The image below demonstrates the impact bees have on the foods we eat every day (learn more about this project).


The recent fuss over the honey bee is stemming from a previously unexplained rash of colony disappearances. Detailed studies from Harvard University and more have revealed that the growing rate of deaths is directly linked to the use of insecticides in agricultural and farming practices.

In particular, neonicotinoids (the most common and widely used insecticide) proved in a study by Harvard University to have fatal results in half of the honey bee colonies tested. Combined with our frequent destruction of flowering plants on account of urban expansion, the bees have been presented with nothing short of a recipe for disaster.

Put more simply, we have been unknowingly biting the hand that feeds us.

Fortunately, despite the grim outlook for our small but mighty friends, there are several steps you can take to help protect the honey bee from an endangered future.

If you have a backyard, put a bee box in your garden or a secluded area (so it’s safe for you too) to provide a protected space for a colony to thrive. Switch to planting bee-friendly plants (such as individual flowering plants and vegetables) and avoid using harmful insecticides. You can also purchase local honey to support safe-practicing beekeepers. And, of course, learning and awareness is always a good place to start.

It’s hard to be under appreciated. Especially when you’re barely an inch tall. Maybe it would do us all some good to help pay a well-earned bonus to one of Earth’s best employees.

This blog was written by SLCgreen intern Lauren Mills.