With a love for the sweet nectar and pollen found inside colorful blooms, honeybees and butterflies bring a beautiful and whimsical presence to backyards and flower patches. As natural indicators of a healthy and flourishing eco-system, people take pride in seeing them flying throughout their gardens. But beyond their beauty, these clever insects are part of something much bigger and their story is one we should all hear. As pollinators, they play an important role in the environment and sadly, their populations have been steadily declining.
“Everything falls apart if you take pollinators out of the game. If we want to say we can feed the world in 2050, pollinators are going to be part of that." - Dennis vanEngelsdorp, a University of Maryland bee expert.
To help you better understand the importance of honeybees and butterflies, we've explained their role in the eco-system, the reason for their decline and the ways that we can help bring their populations up to a normal level. We've also included a Save The Bees Infographic with expert facts from David Suzuki, Greenpeace and more. We encourage you to share this information with friends and family so more people can understand the problem and work together to help solve it.
Bees, Butterflies & Their Role In The Eco-System
Honeybees and butterflies are incredibly important to the health of the environment because they play a number of roles in the natural eco-system. As crucial pollinators, bees contribute to 1/3 of the food that humans eat including over 130 fruits and vegetables! Similarly, butterflies like the gorgeous Monarch, Red Admiral and Painted Lady find their way to the fragrant and brightly colored blooms and feed on the nectar that the fresh flowers produce. As the butterflies fly to each flower in the garden, they pollinate the plants, which helps the flower species develop and flourish.
Butterflies are also an essential part of the natural food chain because they act as a main source of food for birds, bats, mice and other animals. In fact, according to this article by One Green Planet, they can be connected back to two-thirds of all invertbrates! As mentioned above, they're known to be incredibly sensitive to pollution and shifts in climate change and are indicators of a healthy eco-system. While humans rely on this information for accurately measuring the health of the environment, this acute sensitivity is one of the main causes for their decline.
The Reason Behind The Decline
Since both honeybees and butterflies survive on the fresh pollen and nectar found in fresh flowers, the reasons behind the decrease in their populations are closely related as a result of habitat loss, pesticides, diseases and the negative effects of climate change. Approximately 1/3 of the national bee population has disappeared over the last five years due to the increased use of pesticides called neonicotinoids (also known as neonics). According to Global Research, this dangerous insecticide creates a toxic living environment for bees and other members of the colony since they also ingest the chemicals.
Likewise, butterfly populations are declining as well and in the last century, four butterflies and 60 moths became extinct and while that might seem low, the issues are becoming more critical as time goes on. Perhaps the most highly recognizable butterfly in North America, the beautiful Monarch butterfly is suffering from the loss of the milkweed plant from genetically modified crops so much that their populations have dropped by 90%. As stated in this article by Naples News, nearly 90% of all plants require a pollinator to reproduce and as bee populations decline, the role of butterflies becomes even more important to continuing this crucial process.
How We Can Help Them Thrive
- We have the power to help bees and butterflies in our own backyards by creating pollinator-friendly wildflower gardens (take a closer look at seed paper and what flowers it grows)
- Avoid using pesticides in your garden and landscaping.
- Leave them alone - bees won't harm you if left unprovoked and butterflies should never be captured.
- Buy local and eat more organic, pesticide-free foods to encourage healthy agriculture.
- Purchase local honey prepared by local beekeepers.
- Encourage your local council to implement pollinator-friendly policies and to maintain and enhance pollinator habitats.
- Attract butterflies to your yard with butterfly feeders
Help Us Share The 'Save The Bees' Message!