IMG_6845

A busy bee pollinates flowers which will become juicy blackberries later this summer.

The official start of summer provides us with a good excuse to round up our children and find unique ways to celebrate the magic of the season. Personally, I’m always looking for a good excuse for a picnic, or a hike up a creek bed hunting for pretty rocks, minnows and tadpoles. But more recently, I’ve delighted in watching, listening and counting pollinators in my garden.

Even better: helping children replace any fears of  buzzing insects with an appreciation for their critical role in producing the foods we love, like apples, berries, peaches and plums.

In fact, did you know that about one out of every three bites of food we enjoy every day are pollinated by bees?

Bees are in trouble thanks to careless use of pesticides and the loss of  bio-diverse habitats.  Explain to your children that we need their help in protecting our small but mighty friends.

First, take your children into the garden and let them carefully observe pollinators at work.  (This might be a good time to explain how organic farmers help protect bees (and people) by not using toxic chemicals.) Next, plant some native flowers or a berry bush to add greater diversity to your garden and attract more pollinators.

Richard Louv, author of “Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder,” says when we give children a chance to fall in love with nature, they will grow up with a desire to protect it.

The Xerces Society and the  Beyond Pesticides website have more information on ways to protect our precious pollinators so everyone can “bee” happy.