On May 19, 2015, President Obama announced a federal initiative to protect and promote the health of honey bees and other important pollinators. The National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators plans to turn federally owned open spaces into feeding sites for bees and butterflies. By planting a variety of flowers in these open spaces, Obama and the Pollinator Health Task Force hope to see a resurgence in bee and butterfly populations.
Through a federal survey, beekeepers reported a loss of more than 40% of hives this past year. Many scientists believe honey bee decline is caused by a variety of factors including parasites like the Varroa mite, pesticides, and habitat loss. This is big news because honey bees and native bees like the bumble bee, pollinate many of the foods we enjoy. Imagine your plate without blueberries, apples, broccoli, tomatoes, almonds, and more! Dinnertime suddenly seems a little less colorful and really boring!
As a beekeeper, I love to share my admiration of the bee with children and their families whenever I get a chance. During storytime we count felt bees and read Sergio Ruzzier’s Bear and Bee. While watering and harvesting herbs during our Little Green Thumbs programs, I try to point out the colorful pollinators we find in the Library garden. Here at CLP – Squirrel Hill, we’ve had school-age programs featuring silkworms, as well as butterfly rearing. Incorporating the natural world into programming is fun, easy, and inspiring for both children and grown-ups alike. So what can you do to help our bee and butterfly friends? Plant native wildflowers (including milkweed–the only source of food for Monarch caterpillars!) and read these great books!
- It’s a Good Thing There Are Bees by Lisa M. Herrington
- Bear and Bee by Sergio Ruzzier
- The Honeybee Man by Lela Nargi and Kyrsten Brooker
- A Butterfly is Patient by Dianna Hutts Aston
- Handle With Care: An Unusual Butterfly Journey by Loree Griffin Burns
- Citizen Scientists: Be a Part of Scientific Discovery From Your Own Backyard by Loree Griffin Burns