Bees – the diligent climate protectors
But why do bees actually have their own day named after them? How do they contribute to climate protection? What can each individual do to ensure that we continue to find many little yellow and black striped honey producers in our environment, and what contribution does Zero Waste Gardening make to this? You can find answers to these questions in the following article.
A guest post by Andrea, #krautblog and Marie, Zero Waste Austria
So how do bees work?
Bees are true pieceworkers. They are responsible for pollinating around 80% of all cultivated and wild plants. How does this work? The primary goal is to collect flower nectar for honey production. During this process, the smallest flower pollen gets stuck on the bees’ bodies, which in turn are transported to the next plant. Without this pollination, there would be significantly less plant diversity, as this is how plants reproduce.
Why are they in danger?
The number of honey bee colonies has steadily declined over the last two decades. One of the reasons for this is the lack of food for bees, partly due to the cultivation of monoculture crops. These only flower for a short time, and after the harvest, no more plant species are cultivated. Another threat is the use of toxic pesticides, which are supposed to guarantee a high-yield harvest, but are deadly to bees and other insects. In addition, the natural habitat of bees is shrinking as flower meadows are increasingly mown down and lawns are deliberately kept free from flowers.
Bee mortality & the fatal consequences
“If bees die, we die”. This statement, allegedly made by Albert Einstein, has not yet been scientifically confirmed, but it is known that the extinction of bees would have fatal consequences for us and our ecosystem. According to Global2000, without pollination by the black and yellow striped animals (and other insects), about one third of our food would no longer exist. What few people know is that the clothing industry would also have a problem, as cotton production is also dependent on pollination by bees. Finally, the entire ecosystem would be thrown out of balance: the disappearance of plant species would result in the disappearance of the habitat of other insects that are important for the environment.
Enough pessimism, now it’s time to act!
Each one of us can contribute to the preservation of bees.
- Wildflowers instead of green lawns in the garden: provide a habitat for bees!
- Put an insect hotel in your garden – a great DIY project for the whole family!
- No garden? No problem! You can also easily grow bee-friendly plants (e.g. lavender) on the balcony or in window boxes
- When buying organic food, make sure it is grown without chemical pesticides and fertilisers, which are deadly to bees
- Speaking of chemicals: When buying fertilisers, pay attention to their ingredients and, if possible, use only natural plant protection products. You can also make natural products yourself! (Andrea explains how to do this further down in the text)
Step by step guide to a vegetable & bee paradise
Andrea from #krautblog shows you how you can easily grow your own plants and thus create a refuge for bees and other important insects with her article on ‘Zero Waste Gardening’:
Growing a few useful plots on the balcony, terrace or even in your own garden helps to gain more awareness for regional, seasonal, unpackaged products – and incidentally provides an important habitat and food space for bees.
Out of love for food
Anyone who has ever gardened knows the effort it takes to harvest half a kilogram of tomatoes and prepare a summer caprese or tomato sauce. Our values and appreciation of regionally produced and seasonally available food will increase.
Growing and caring for plants as a leisure activity is generally a very environmentally friendly & meaningful activity. Nevertheless, gardening can be made (more) sustainable. Sustainable in the sense of saving resources, not using more resources than are really necessary. Nowadays we would call it zero waste gardening.
A few things are necessary, especially at the beginning, to dare to try growing your own food. But ask yourself in advance: Do I really need this? Is there an alternative? Can I get it as a gift or borrow it? Let your creativity run free in order to get closer to the goal of your own vegetable with a focus on resource conservation.
Use what is there. That is the motto. This applies always and everywhere – not only to Zero Waste Gardening.
- Pots and planters
Go through your basement, your cupboards or your grandmother’s attic. You will find a multitude of wonderful things to plant in. It’s important to drill holes in the bottom of the containers to prevent waterlogging.
Gravel makes a good drainage layer at the bottom of the planter.
To create a functional drainage layer and to prevent the soil from being washed out of the pot when watering, a fleece can be placed between the gravel and the soil. You can ask for a piece of fleece from the waste at a building site – be brave, do it!
- Compost and soil
Make your own nutrient-rich soil by gradually filling a large pots with a few worms with organic material or using a worm bin. You will see that this works wonderfully. In the beginning, you will need a large amount of material. Use your pots directly to buy soil or take your bags to the producer. If you buy soil in a bag, use the bag as a planter.
Gardening on the balcony? Your hands are your main tool. Maybe an extra small, existing harness for scooping soil or a small shovel. The children’s sand toys can be used quite well. If you buy a tool, buy a good quality, durable piece of iron/wood and support the small, local suppliers.
- Labelling elements
For labelling (young) plants, wood scraps, shards or simply small pieces of wood that can be found during a walk in the forest are excellent.
- Planter scaffolding
The wood of the hazelnut or the willow is excellent for creating climbing aids for the climbing plants
Grow your own seeds by letting plants flower or use seed exchanges to trade seeds. If you buy seeds, go for organic quality.
Use existing, collected plant pots. Or ask around in your circle of acquaintances to get hold of such pots. Also, use plant exchange markets or ask neighbours and friends (usually someone wants to get rid of a piece of greenery) to get hold of young plants. When buying, look for organic quality. Look for seed resistance, perenniality and winter hardiness in the plants. Give preference to native, robust varieties. And ensure diversity in the garden. Get the plant in pressed soil without packaging. If you buy seedlings in plastic pots, use them to grow seedlings next year, return them to the local gardener, give them away to ambitious hobby gardeners/childcare facilities or give away another seedling in the same pot.
For watering plants in the flat, on the window sill or balcony, it is excellent to collect the daily water that we need, for example, to wash vegetables, to wash our hands or dishes. A larger bowl or tub can easily be placed in the sink for this purpose. If you have a house with a garden, you can collect rainwater or water from the gutter and use it for watering. Or perhaps there is even the possibility of digging your own well. Interestingly, if we do not water outdoor plants at all, or only in times of drought, they will develop a deeper root system.
With a good compost you will not need to fertilise (much). As a green fertiliser you can make your own mix from nettles, horsetail etc., collect eggshells, coffee grounds and ashes (and chop them up) and put them in the pot.. Maybe not on the balcony, but on the terrace and in the garden you can get some horse manure as natural fertiliser from the nearest horse owner.
Think about how much time you want to invest in the garden project. Take this into account when choosing plants. Fresh vegetables (lettuce, radishes), for example, are more labour-intensive than storage vegetables (potatoes, beetroot).
Continuous harvesting of your herbs and vegetables stimulates the growth of many plants. Re-growing is also hip right now. Take individual leaves from the lettuce or leave the stalk when harvesting (regrowing). You will see that the lettuce grows back by itself and you can harvest it again. You can harvest chives four to six times a year. Herbs grow back when you harvest the fresh (non-woody) shoots. Eat the flowers of the plants as well. In this case, just keep a knife close to the garden or nibble this and that directly from the plant.
Let’s save the bees!
As you can see, it is not particularly difficult to support the endangered bees and provide them with a habitat, even if you do not have a garden or balcony. Each individual can also contribute to a more bee-friendly world through hers/his own purchasing decisions and conscious interaction with nature. So that we will have the buzzing of these little animals in our ears for a long time to come!
Mother Earth: https://www.muttererde.at/allgemein/bienen-fuer-das-oekosystem-und-die-menschen-unersetzlich/