Bee kind, please redesign

  If you dread mowing the lawn, maybe you should just give it up altogether next year. Native pollinator insects — bees, butterflies and others — are declining across the nation because of land-management practices that range from vast single-crop farm fields to manicured urban lawns. This is very bad news, because despite their tiny size, pollinator insects are “keystone species” that help many plants reproduce.

According to the Pollinator Conservation Handbook, released in October by the Xerces Society and the Bee Works, nectar-guzzlers also contribute, directly and indirectly, to about $40 billion worth of agricultural products in the United States every year. Apples, pumpkins, blueberries, the alfalfa that feeds many beef and dairy cattle — all rely on the work of pollinator insects.

The Handbook not only recommends policy changes, such as increased pesticide regulation and smaller controlled burns, but also tells how you can make your own backyard pollinator-friendly.

You can order the book for $19.95 from the Xerces Society at 503-232-6639 or online at www.xerces.org.