The Pollinators Need Our Help

Kerry Roberts

Fun fact: pollinators are responsible for bringing us one out of every 3 bites of food. Not so fun fact: pollinator populations are declining globally, due to major issues like habitat loss, pesticides, invasive species. Big problems for pollinators means big problems for the foods we eat. June is National Pollinator Month, a time to spread awareness about the challenges pollinators face, and what we can do to support them. 

While there are over 100,000 different pollinators on earth, one of the most visible pollinators are, of course, bees.  We’ve got a particular affinity for bees, as they produce one of our most treasured superfoods: bee pollen, the nutrient-packed morsels found inside Tropical Zing

Bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds are all super important pollinators that can thrive in your yard, with a little help. Here are four tips from the National Wildlife Federation on how to support healthy populations of bees and other pollinators.  

Plant your garden and yard with the needs of pollinators in mind. This includes planting native plants that will give pollinators like bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds access to the food and shelter they need to survive and multiply. Pollinators are near-sighted, so arrange your plantings in clusters of 3-5--also called drifts--to mimic nature and make it easier for pollinators to hit their target. And don’t forget the herbs--pollinators love ‘em. Bees are particularly fond of mint, oregano, basil, dill, fennel, and rosemary flowers.  Oh, one more thing: native trees and shrubs are great additions to a pollinator-friendly yard! 

Here’s a species-by-species plant list to attract your favorite pollinators: 
Butterflies: Salvia coccinea, Mexican sunflower, yarrow, butterfly weed, blazing star, butterfly bush
Hummingbirds: honeysuckle, torch lily, salvia (all types), hummingbird mint, trumpet vine
Bees: Bee balm, purple coneflower, dill, mint, sunflower 

Give bees nesting places.  Most of the 4,000 bees native to North American (ICYMI: honey bees were imported from Europe) don’t actually form hives. Instead, they lay their eggs in decaying wood or sandy soil. Leaving tree snags, unmulched soil, unmowed grass, or a hedge near your garden will help pollinators raise their young safely.  Yes, this means part of  your yard might look like a mess, in this case your mother (nature) says it's okay! 

Avoid pesticides.  Pesticides aren’t doing anything by way of helping to increase pollinator populations.  If you must use them, try doing it at times when bees aren’t active (early evening) and refrain from using them on flowers in bloom.   Click here for more tips on cultivating a pesticide-free garden

Plant native milkweed. Here’s an alarming stat: monarch butterfly populations have declined 90% perfect over the past two decades.  Sounds about time to hit the panic button, doesn’t it? We can do our part by planting milkweed, which is also on the decline and the species’ only caterpillar host plant.  And just to be clear, milkweed is totally OK for your garden--here’s a great piece on busting milkweed myths

Further resources:

The Benefits of Bee Pollen 

National Wildlife Federation's Plants for Pollinators List 

Children's Programs and Resources from the Planet Bee Foundation

Order Milkweed Seeds from Save Our Monarchs 

 

 

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The Benefits of Bee Pollen

Kerry Roberts

Bee pollen is often buzzed about because it looks oh-so-pretty atop perfectly styled acai bowls on Instagram, but its good looks only scratch the surface on the powers of this superfood. Jam-packed with nutrition and healing properties, bee pollen is *way* more than decoration--it's your new pantry must-have. (We take our superfoods seriously around here. And our puns.)

Meet Bee Pollen: Valedictorian of the Superfood Class

In the world of superfoods, bee pollen’s resume is impressive. Bee pollen is one of nature’s most complete foods, as it contains nearly all nutrients necessary to sustain life. How’s that for the first line of a resume?

Bee pollen is a complete protein source (read: it has all the essential amino acids) and can pack up to 2g of protein per tablespoon--that’s more than the amount found in chicken, beef, or eggs of equal weight. It’s also an excellent source of vitamin A (an important immune-booster) with B vitamins, magnesium, iron, zinc, enzymes, and fatty acids. Its fiber content isn’t too shabby, either, coming in at 1.5g per tablespoon. Like we said...killer. resume. 

Thanks to health-conscious celebs, ala Victoria Beckham and Gwyneth Paltrow, bee pollen has been in headlines in recent years. But its powers were understood long before lifestyle brands and swipe-ups. Hippocrates and Pythagoras both prescribed bee pollen for its healing properties. The ancient Egyptians, Romans, and Chinese considered pollen a panacea. Native Americans wore pouches containing bee pollen around their necks on long journeys to help sustain their energy. (So...maybe it could be the tired mom cure-all? Here’s to hoping.) 

Bee Pollen is...what, exactly?

As honeybees bounce from flower to flower collecting nectar, pollen collects into little clumps on their hind legs. These clumps are sealed with a mix of saliva and honey or nectar, and brought back to the hive and packed into combs as a food source, creating the small granules we know as bee pollen. And now for the secret sauce: those bee secretions create a fermentation process that makes the nutrients of the flower pollen more readily available and gives bee pollen the nutritional density it’s known for. 

Bee pollen is collected as bees enter the hive and pass through a screen that gently scrapes their hind legs.  Think of it as a welcome mat at the hive for the bees to wipe their pollen-filled feet. 

Here’s How it Helps

Bee pollen’s potential benefit list is ample, from lowering cholesterol to relieving allergies and symptoms of menopause. As the superfood is further studied, the more exciting the potential becomes. Here’s what we know so far:

Anti-inflammatoryAccording to the National Institute of Health, research has shown bee pollen to have anti-inflammatory properties comparable to over-the-counter medications.  

Immune Boosting: Vitamin A is an important part of the immune system firing on all cylinders, and a single serving of bee pollen can provide 51% of the recommended percent daily value. It’s also been found antimicrobial, antifungal, and a potent antioxidant, so much that it is considered a functional food. 

Energy Giving: Not only does bee pollen contain all the essential amino acids, but those amino acids are free-form, meaning they are easily absorbed by the body and ready to be put to work--your work. 

Ok, I’m sold. Where can I find bee pollen?

Bee pollen is available in granular form at most health food stores, but we’ve saved you the trouble of a “what should I do with this bee pollen” Google search and added it to one of our most nutrient-dense blends: Tropical Zing.

p.s. Don't forget to take 50% off your Tropical Zing order with code ZING




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Immune-Boosting Foods

Kerry Roberts
Are you eating the foods your immune system loves? Here's a rundown of some immune system basics, the vitamins and minerals it needs to thrive, and some of our favorite foods to find them in.

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