Herbs to Attract Butterflies & Bees

By Dr. Christina Wilke-Burbach

All of nature lives together in harmony. When one part of the ecosystem is damaged, the entire system is broken. Pollinators, like bees and butterflies, are necessary for our survival. Bees pollinate most of the crops that we use for food. If our food is not pollinated, the crops cannot grow. Then animals and humans, and every other living organism that relies on plants and crops for sustenance do not have food to eat. This could lead to famine and economic disruption.

Pesticides, herbicides, neonicotinoids, and crops modified with pest control characteristics (GMOS) threaten the survival of Monarch butterflies, honeybees, and bumblebees. The chemicals kill Milkweed, the caterpillars’ main source of food. These chemicals also disrupt the bees’ location and tracking instincts leading them to get lost and not be able to find their way home. Chemicals make the bees more prone to disease, suppress their immune system, increase their stress, and are believed to be the culprit for Colony Collapse Disorder, a phenomenon in which bees suddenly and mysteriously disappear from the hive. In recent years, beekeepers in The US, Canada, Europe, Asia, Central America, and South America all report over a 50% decline in their bee populations. In the United Kingdom, three species of bees have already gone extinct. 90% of the wild bee population in the US have died out. The Monarch butterfly numbers are the lowest they ever have been.

If we don’t change our gardening and agriculture methods, not only could the bees and butterflies become extinct, but it could surely threaten our food supplies and ultimately our own survival. As many people are waking up and becoming interested in green and clean living (organic food, natural cleaning products, natural body products, etc) there is a need to translate the natural movement to our own backyards. The following are some things we can all do to increase their bees’ and butterflies’ chances of survival as well as restore harmony and balance to the earth.

  • Respect the bees! Leave their hives alone. Learn the difference between hornets, wasps, and bees. Bees are not the bad guys. They are not aggressive like wasps.
  • Consider becoming a beekeeper!
  • Weeds are ok! Many of us were taught that weeds were “bad.” In fact, Mother Nature lives in harmony and balance. When weeds appear, that is nature’s way of balancing out the soil quality. In fact, most weeds are medicine too!
  • Use natural and organic gardening methods like natural fertilizers (guano, kelp, bloodmeal) and natural pest detractors (neem and some essential oils like lemongrass and citronella).
  • Pull out weeds by hand. This is not only great exercise but a way to get your hands dirty and commune with nature.
  • You want to make sure you only get organic seedlings or organic seeds to plant in your garden. Plants from greenhouses may be sprayed in pesticides and chemicals.
  • Plant organic herbs that attract bees and butterflies. Not only will these assist our bee and butterfly friends, but at the end of the growing season you can harvest your herbs and create wonderful healing teas, tinctures, and balms for yourself and your family. Herbs that attract bees and butterflies include:

Milkweed (Asclepias curassavica, Asclepias incarnata, Asclepias syriacea. At the end of the growing season harvest your Milkweed, dry it, and make a sachet for protection.

Catnip (Nepeta cataria). A favorite of cats, catnip is also a sedative for humans and is beneficial for insomnia, anxiety, and stomach upset.

Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis. Hyssop has been used for its cleansing properties since Biblical times. It is excellent for respiratory system health.

Bee Balm (also known as Wild Bergamot) (Monarda didyma, Monarda fistulosa, Monarda  citriodora and Monarda pectinata). Bee balm is excellent for digestive problems.

Lavender (Lavandula officinalis, Lavandula angustifolia) is great for skin care, anxiety, and stress.

Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea). Echinacea is one of the best herbs for boosting the immune system.

If you are interested in learning more about medicinal herbs, their holistic properties, growing herbs in the Midwest, and making herbal products, please join me for the Holistic Healing with Herbs series at Mimosa Books and Gifts May 29-31, 2015! For more info and to register, please visit: http://www.mindsoulandself.com/Herbal_Classes.html

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