By Rebecca Ragain, May/June 2008
Last year, when David Yudkin, co-owner of HOTLIPS Pizza restaurants in Portland, Oregon, heard the buzz about the honeybee die-off caused by mysterious Colony Collapse Disorder (researchers still don’t understand its cause), he wanted to help. Yudkin was well aware that pollinators like bees, bats and butterflies contribute to every third mouthful of food we consume. After all, pizza toppings like onions wouldn’t exist without them. And when Yudkin contacted the Xerces Society, an insect conservation group based in Portland, he learned that most efforts were aimed at farmers. Yudkin was already sourcing his ingredients from growers who avoided pesticides and enhanced insect habitats. But he thought he could do more to educate customers about the pollinator problem—and urge them to get involved.
Knowing that bees often lack appropriate shelters for nesting, Yudkin had the idea of distributing HOTLIPS’s waste cardboard—rolled into tubes—to customers who could install the structures in their gardens as potential nesting spots. As it turned out, the bees weren’t interested in taking up residence in pizza boxes. But Yudkin isn’t giving up. His latest plan is to pass out prefabricated bee nesting blocks—wood structures drilled with holes where the insects can lay their eggs.
Yudkin also plans to host seminars where pollinator-friendly producers and representatives from the Xerces Society give tips on making green spaces more hospitable to pollinators. Yudkin and his wife and business partner Jeana Edelman like that they’re able to spread helpful knowledge through their community. “We joke about being pollinators ourselves, about connecting initiatives that are already going on and making them more fruitful,” says Yudkin.
We wouldn’t enjoy blueberries, chocolate, melons (or honey!) without pollinators like bees and butterflies. Celebrate National Pollinator Week, June 16-22, 2014, by nourishing pollinator habitats: plant colorful flowers that will bloom throughout the season. For other tips, visit pollinator.org.