Why Are Hummingbirds Important, and How Can Rooftop Gardens Help Them?

Posted by Ecogardens

 

These jewel-bright birds do more than dress up your bird feeder in the winter months. They also perform valuable pollinating services, so we would do well to help them out.

Toss off the word “pollinators,” and almost anyone will conjure up the image of a bee.

Usually a honeybee.

Probably fuzzy with yellow pollen and sitting on, like, a sunflower or something.

That’s not to say bees aren’t important pollinators. We merely mean to point out that this is a limited conception that fails to do justice to pollinators as a group.

Exhibit A: hummingbirds.

These flying gems gather pollen on their heads as they flit from flower to flower, helping fertilize them and propagating new generations of the plants on which we depend. Birds as a whole represent 2,000 species of pollinators, with hummingbirds making up a sizeable percentage of those.

While putting nectar out for hummingbirds is a wonderful winter tradition, and can do much to keep them strong and well, we must do more. It’s time to give these tiny birdies habitat, shelter and real flowers on which to feed.

And that means using horizontal space more effectively in our cities.

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Topics: Pollinators

How Do Green Roofs and Pollinators Work Together?

Posted by Ecogardens

 

Unless you’ve lived under a rock for the last decade – and a very remote rock at that – you’ve heard the word pollinator.

Most likely you even know that the term extends far beyond bees, encompassing birds, bats, moths, beetles and tons of other insects. Nevertheless, bees make up a huge portion of the pollinating pie (pillar page), and since they fly, they are frequent visitors of green roofs and roof top gardens.

Where, can we just say, they do a lot of kickass work. But what type of work, exactly? And how do those green roofs help them back?

That’s what we’re here to talk about today. Get ready for the greatest romance of all time: pollinators and the green roofs that love them.

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Topics: Pollinators

How to Increase Pollinator Diversity in Urban Areas

Posted by Ecogardens

 

Pollinators matter in cities as well as agricultural areas, but numbers and diversity of these critical animals are in constant decline. It’s time we address the issue.

You can’t get an honest bite of street falafel these days without experiencing the oh-so-popular lament for the sacred honeybee.

On television and magazine covers, over the radio and via interviews galore, we hear more and more about declining bee populations. And that does matter, but what all those interviews fail to take into account is the importance of other pollinators too.

Declining pollinator diversity is, in fact, a serious problem these days. Not just honeybees, but native bees, beetles, butterflies, moths, birds and even bats struggle from loss of forage and shelter.

It’s not enough that we fight back for the honeybee, although that’s important too. We need to work to increase the number and kinds of other pollinators as well.

But how can we foster pollinator diversity in both urban and agricultural areas? How can we prop up urban ecology before it’s too late?

Let’s take a look at the most promising approaches today.

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Topics: Pollinators

How Can Cities Help Bees Through Pollinator Conservation?

Posted by Ecogardens

 

Pollinators tend to suffer in cities, despite proof that urban areas can majorly benefit our flying friends. Here’s how we can do better.

Pollinator conservation is big news these days. We know how important our friends the birds and bees are, but not everyone is so sure what to do to help them out.

First and foremost, we must understand why bees matter to the city. They:

  • Pollinate the gardens we use for food and serenity
  • Keep trees and green roofs in good shape and propagating naturally
  • Support native plants that help clean the air and balance the ecosystem

… and more. Unfortunately, urban areas often damage bee habitat, which is why pollinator conservation is so important today.

The good news is, done right, cities don’t have to prove inhospitable to bees. In fact, some studies show that urban centers show greater density of certain kinds of bees than the surrounding countryside. There’s major hope, if we can get there.

So, how can cities help bees, you’re wondering? Let’s take a look.

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Topics: Pollinators

What You Should Know About Gardening for Pollinators

Posted by Ecogardens

 

We rely on pollinators for our food supply and other important plant crops, so it’s time we turn our gardens to their benefit.

Hanging hummingbird feeders are a lovely addition to the landscape, and no doubt your teeny feathered friends appreciate them.

No really, they do. We asked them.

But that’s not enough. With our ongoing destruction of natural landscapes in the building of urban and rural human structures, pollinators have faced steady habitat depletion. Many of them no longer have resting places or food, and so are declining alarmingly.

“Worldwide there is disturbing evidence that pollinating animals have suffered from loss of habitat, chemical misuse, introduced and invasive plant and animal species, and diseases and parasites,” explains Pollinator Partnership, adding that many are federally “listed species,” animals for whom there is empirical evidence of destruction and decline.

It’s time we start gardening for pollinators.

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Topics: Pollinators

Why Do Pollinators Matter So Much?

Posted by Ecogardens

 

Wondering why pollinators matter? Because they help feed us and keep the environment in good shape.

With all the hype about honeybees these days, you’ve likely wondered at least once why pollinators matter.

We don’t blame you. The coverage of devastating (but probably overblown) conditions such as Colony Collapse Disorder have made it seem as though A Giant Bee Crisis and Probably Worldwide Famine are imminent.

We don’t mean to make light of environmental degradation, but you can relax: That’s not going to happen soon.

More importantly, the fearmongering over the honeybees has obscured other important issues, leading fewer people to ask themselves why pollinators matter beyond honeybees.

The simple answer to that question is: Pollinators provide services that humans simply can’t mimic by hand or with machines, so we must protect them at all costs.

Here’s a closer look.

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Topics: Pollinators

Why You Should Get a Rooftop Garden Today

Posted by Ecogardens

 

Rooftop gardens bring more than beauty and energy to a formerly lackluster space. They also bring nature into the city, IMPROVING human health and offering valuable real estate for plants, pollinators and other wildlife.

Ever look out your office window and seen people having drinks on a rooftop garden across the way – and feel a serious urge to gatecrash their party?

Ever wish you could turn that abandoned roof space into a plant-bedecked, fairy light-strewn Eden, right in your own building?

Ever want to increase the psychosocial and physical healing times at your hospital with an elaborate green roof space, but you’re not sure how?

You, my friend, need a rooftop garden.

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Topics: Green Roofs, Pollinators

How to Minimize the Impact of Nocturnal Lighting on Animals

Posted by Ecogardens

 

To us dark-defying humans, flipping on a light at night is as natural as eating or breathing. Unfortunately, it is incredible unnatural for many animals that rely on darkness to thrive.

It’s easy to go through daily life ignoring our surroundings, especially our external environments when we’re cozied up inside for the night.

Garage lighting? What of it? You don’t want someone to steal the basketball hoop, after all.

Office buildings lit up like Christmas trees all night long? Well, of course! We wouldn’t want miscreants to get the wrong idea – and plus, that skyline looks awfully pretty.

Problem is, the massive amount of light we put out each night is a form of pollution. In addition to obscuring a beautiful night sky, it confused birds and other animals that travel, eat or live their lives after the sun goes down. It’s seriously disruptive to our urban ecology.

We need to do something about it, and now.

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Topics: Urban Ecology, Pollinators

Everything You Never Knew About Pollinators But Wanted To

Posted by Ecogardens

 

When you hear the word pollinators, does your mind automatically change it to the word “bee”? Time to retrain your brain on all things pollination.

Look outside your window on a spring day, and you’ll see at least one flying thing.

If you live in a bustling Chicago neighborhood, like we do, you’re likely to see more than that: birds, bees, butterflies, dragonflies and even regular flies.

If someone asked you to point to the pollinators, though, we’re betting your finger would automatically gravitate toward the bees – especially those black and yellow striped honeybees we all know and love.

These days, though, we more than love the honeybee: We freak out about it constantly. Oft-cited reports of Colony Collapse Disorder – the unexplained die-off of honeybee hives – have people super-edgy about the fate of pollinators, and those who depend upon them. (Spoiler alert: us.)

While the humble honeybee has a time-honored place in our imaginations and on our cereal boxes, though, it’s far from the only pollinator around. In fact, it’s only one of many, many animals on which we depend for the propagation of plants and the health of our urban ecology.

This leads to a few questions: Why do pollinators matter, who represents the non-bee pollinating faction and are we doing enough to protect them?

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Topics: Urban Ecology, Pollinators