Pollinator Week

I think I’ve shared this story on my blog before? It definitely bears mentioning again and again–folks we cannot survive without pollinators. Even if we could grow soil grown food outside, which by the way is getting harder to do, who on earth would want to live in a world without birds, butterflies, and bees. I get that people are allergic to bees. So maybe they could do without them both physically and mentally, but even little old me scared to death of wasps doesn’t intentionally set out to kill them every spring and summer. For those that don’t know–dandelions are the first food for bumble bees. Bumble bees pollinate our flowers and give us pretty gardens and bouquets to cherish. No bumble bees, no flower gardens. Seriously. Honey bees and sweat bees pollinate meadow flowers, flowers on our fruit and vegetables, and the honey bees provide honey for us. Not willingly mind you–we steal it from them. Thankfully responsible beekeepers leave honey behind to feed the hive. No honey bees and sweat bees no tomatoes, cranberries, broccoli, cherries, apples, blueberries, and all melons. None. Hummingbirds are like little artists with nature’s meadows as their canvas sweeping from plant to plant spreading pollen.

I wasn’t always as learned in pollinators, or gardens, or soil. I took it upon myself a few years back to educate myself on all things environment. Growing a garden and living in an apartment were my motivators. I educated myself while attending college full-time and working full-time. If you want to learn something bad enough–you’ll find the time.

Today as I sat in our apartment preparing for the interruption we call “annual fire alarm check”, I watched “maintenance” and I use this term loosely destroy everything my husband and I have accomplished for our little habitat outside our apartment’s front door. Twelve years ago, and yes I’m ashamed to say I’ve lived here that long, we moved into this apartment. We’d had a home in a partially wooded area that we loved and cared for nature in. Between a “family” financial deal gone wrong that directly affected us and a fractured “family” relationship + land sold out from under us –we sold back and moved out. We moved a few miles away so my husband could continue working at a job he has been in for over 20 years.

We never planned on staying in the area, so we never even looked at buying a home here. We were always going to move, but life is tricky and sometimes despite your best efforts you stay somewhere too long. Gently from above we are being nudged out of here and moving on in 14 months. If we could leave today it wouldn’t be soon enough. O.k. back to what I saw. First, driving around on what can best be described as a redneck sprayer was “maintenance” spraying bleach solution of some kind on the “grass.” The grass died three years back. Now, not even dandelions will grow here–that’s how dead the grass is here.

Twelve years ago we moved in and noticed almost immediately there were no birds. Lots and lots of bugs –no birds. Oh there were predators for all the bugs let me tell you. One night as the moon shone bright through our patio window, I looked out and what did I see but 5 large spider webs strung across our porch, each with a big black spider in it. I let out a scream and the next day hubby was out there pulling down the webs and spraying raid. Yes, I’ve been there–I’ve been ignorant and had a don’t care attitude about certain parts of nature. Also noticed were wasps nests in doorways and at each garage door throughout three apartment complexes. Why you ask? Wasps and spiders eat bugs. If you have a lot of bugs you will have a lot of wasps and spiders. They both, despite my search to prove otherwise, serve a purpose in nature. They are a part of the delicate balance of nature’s eco-system and when kept in check bother no one. Nature keeps wasps and spiders in check. Dragonflies, bears, reptiles, centipedes, and birds eat wasps.

The discovery and then subsequent shame I felt for killing the spiders sent me on a mission of how I could learn to live with these creatures vs. killing them. I discovered birds would be a good start. So, we planted flowers on our deck and down by our door. The first three years nothing. Then like everyone else we put up hummingbird feeders and grape jam for orioles and voila the birds came. Management that had been here when we moved in left and new management took over and the lawn stopped being sprayed with chemicals. Yes, the plush golf course went away after a year or two, but had “maintenance” actually found a way to kill weeds safely and stop mowing when there was a drought the lawn would have continued to thrive. Anyways, back to the birds. Eventually throughout the years we’ve brought back into this area–(yes we did) house finches, goldfinches, orioles, red wing blackbirds, crows, 2 hawks, Canada geese couple, mourning doves, robins, field sparrows, chickadees, nuthatch, woodpeckers, 3 types of hummingbirds and more. We have fed seed during times of low to no food in the spring, jam for orioles, and then seed all winter for the nuthatch, chickadees, woodpeckers, and house finches. I’m not ashamed to say between seed, jam, feeders, and plants we have spent a fortune. That said what a reward we have received in return. Not only us but in the last few years most of the tenants on this side of the building have put in patio and deck gardens and hung feeders in trees. We have neighbors that have requested to live in units that open in this building solely for the small marsh and beautiful habitat created over the past 10 years.

Which today in just minutes was destroyed. Already “management” has sprayed and destroyed any hopes of bumble bees or honey bees in the area. Today even going so far as to use a wand to reach plants in what I believe is a protected marshland. Maintenance fertilizing a lawn that they themselves destroyed by mowing super short right before a drought. If you see a lawn covered in white clover–it’s not a lawn. White clover kills any grass you have left–smothers it, and is directly caused by mowing grass too short. But ya, go ahead and “fertilize” it as I watched the grass be covered in poison and know that the robins who yesterday were showing their young how to pluck worms would now be poisoned and die. Hours after the spraying the silence outside was startling. I witnessed two sets of parent birds take their nests and carry them away. Away from a beautiful habitat created by one human and destroyed by another. Today was a sad day and unfortunately we don’t have any control over what the owners/management of this property do. I have tried to school them on what they’re doing to no avail. They don’t care because it doesn’t affect them. Out of sight out of mind. They likely believe flowers grow open and beautiful and fruit comes about because it’s fruit and vegetables are grown in some country where golf-course front lawns aren’t popular.

Again, a gentle nudge from above to us to move from here to our forever home and there we will be able to build a bigger and better habitat–hopefully it won’t be too late. If I can educate one person on the importance of pollinators through this post–I’m here for it. Happy pollinator week and wherever you are and whatever you are doing–stop and thank the birds and the bees. We’re going to keep feeding them throughout the winter and providing plants for them to pollinate in summer, but for now we’re going to stop feeding while the grass and surrounding areas that they live in, in order to get that feed, are being made toxic by ignorant humans. There are areas close by with feeders and trees and plants that they can go to and hopefully they will stay away from this area while it remains unsafe. We will miss them until they can come back.

Pollinator Information

Animals at risk from climate change

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