In honor of Pollinator Week, we are going to take the time to highlight some of the most undervalued creatures on our earth, pollinating insects. Most people do not realize how important this group of animals are for the sustainability of our planet. For those of you that do not know, the role of a pollinator is to move the pollen of a plant from a male anther of a flower to the female stigma of a flower. This fertilizes the female gamete of the flower with the male gamete coming from the pollen. This process is important because we depend on these creatures to help pollinate crops.
The most common pollinator is the bee, but also insects such as beetles, butterflies, flies, moths and wasps help pollinate plants. There are also a variety of other pollinators that include bears, bats, birds and even humans!
Sadly, recently some of these pollinators have begun to decline, particularly bees which have begun to decline rapidly in the past couple years. Nearly one-third of U.S. bee colonies die as a result of what is called a “colony collapse disorder,” where bees abandon their hive and leave all of the honey and wax behind.
Aside from the delicious honey that these bees produce as a pollinator, they add $15 billion in crops in the U.S. Without bees, there would be a sharp decline in crop production. I can attest to these claims, because my family actually has two hives at our house. I noticed the hives about 5 years ago. After the first year, the bees died or evacuated the hive.
It’s likely a combination of threats is responsible for the bee decline. The decline of honey bees can possibly be attributed to a result of the mass spreading of bee colony-crippling Varroa mite throughout the country. Also, the lack of nutrition the bees are getting from crops such as wheat or corn and the increasing amounts of pesticides that we are using on our plants are also having an effect.
The National Pest Management Association suggests the following ways to help promote the health of honey bees and other pollinators.
- Create a pollinator-friendly garden with flowering plants, herbs and vegetables, including wildflowers, lavender, sunflowers, golden rod, honeysuckle, chives, oregano and thyme to help them thrive. Because stinging insects can pose health threats, to keep family members and pets safe, these gardens should be planted away from the home or outdoor seating areas.
- Buy local honey and support community beekeepers.
- Do not attempt to remove or eliminate nests and hives – instead contact a pest professional or beekeeper who can do so safely while preserving the bees.
To learn more about Pollinator Week, visit The National Pest Management Association Website dedicated to pollinator awareness and protection.
Please share any pollinator related stories below!
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