Our pollinators are struggling. Due to loss of habitat and widespread pesticide use, populations of many of these beneficial insects, such as honeybees and butterflies, have declined – in some cases precipitously – in recent years. The Monarch butterfly population has plummeted almost 90% in the last twenty-five years. Bees, too, are suffering from Colony Collapse Disorder, with beekeepers regularly reporting losses of 30-40% of their colonies over the winter period.
We here in Oklahoma City can act individually and collectively to help our bees and butterflies, and in doing so, help ourselves. We need honeybees and other insects to pollinate our fruits, vegetables and nuts (and of course, produce delicious honey). But we treasure pollinators for less practical reasons, too – our world would mourn the loss of beauty if Monarch butterflies declined and disappeared.
Progress is on the horizon. Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett recently signed the National Wildlife Federation’s “Mayor’s Monarch Pledge” promising to support the monarch butterflies in their annual migration on their path to and from the mountains of Mexico. He joins a group of almost fifty mayors across the country who recognize that monarchs need our help, and who have pledged their support.
Also in 2015, the White House introduced “Plan Bee,” a strategy to protect pollinators, which will provide funding to plant and protect bee habitat and fund research into ways to protect bees from disease and the perils of pesticides.
Locally, the Urban Ag Coalition and other non-profits and businesses are working together to ensure that we can enjoy the sight of the distinctive orange and black Monarch butterflies during their migration for decades to come! We will be posting events, information and ideas on our Facebook page throughout the year about ways to support butterflies, bees, and other important native insects.
Join us there for our adventures throughout the Year of the Pollinator!