Pollinator Week: June 22 – 28, 2020

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What is pollination?

Pollination occurs when pollen grains are moved between two flowers of the same species, or within a single flower, by wind or animals that are pollinators. Successful pollination, which may require visits by multiple pollinators to a single flower, results in healthy fruit and fertile seeds, allowing plants to reproduce. We would not have many crops without pollinators.

A diagram showing how pollination from one flower to another happens.

How many flowering plants rely on animal pollinators?

Approximately 75% of all flowering plants rely on animal pollinators. This is over 180,000 different plant species and more than 1,200 crops!

Who are our pollinators?

Over 200,000 species of animals act as pollinators. Of those, about 1,000 are hummingbirds, bats, and small mammals. The rest are insects such as beetles, ants, wasps, butterflies, moths and most importantly, bees are pollinators. And, they do so on accident. Bees are visiting flowers to drink nectar or feed off the pollen. As they do this, they unknowingly transport pollen grains as they move from flower to flower. How cool is that?

Photo of a honey bee with pollen particles attached to it

Why is pollination important?

Without pollination many of the flowering plants would not produce fruits, nuts, and vegetables. That means that 1 out of every three bites of food you eat would not be available to eat because there was no pollination.

Our breakfast plates would look a lot different. Many of our favorite items to eat would no longer be available. When we visit the grocery stores, they would look a lot different as well. The shelves would have little variety to choose from. The items available would be those that did not require pollination. There would be a lot of pasta and bread but how tasty is that without sauce to go with it?

A photo of how your breakfast would look without pollinators. Missing fruit, fruit juice, jam, and nuts.

If we look at this on a dollar and cent scale, pollinators add 217 billion dollars to the global economy and honey bees alone are responsible for 1.2 and 5.4 billion dollars in agricultural productivity in the United States. Not only do pollinators help provide food for us to eat, they support healthy ecosystems that clean the air, stabilize soils, protect form severe weather, and support other wildlife.

How can you help pollinators?

Pollinator populations are changing. Many pollinator populations are in decline and this decline is attributed most severely to a loss in feeding and nesting habitats. There are many ways you can help pollinators. Here is a small this of thing you can do now to help:

  • Plant native plants.
  • Plant pollinator gardens.
  • Give bees and other pollinators nesting sites.
  • Place shallow containers with water for pollinator to drink.
  • Protect grasslands.
  • Voice the importance of pollinators.
  • Limit pesticide sprays. If chemical control is necessary, make applications in the late evening when many pollinators have settled down for the night.
  • Participate in pollinator projects such as Adopt a Monarch.

Help us celebrate pollinators this week. Send in a picture of a pollinator you have found this week. All pictures may be sent to Joanna Radford.

Happy Pollinator Week!