Birds, bats, bees, butterflies, beetles, and other small mammals that pollinate plants are responsible for bringing us one out of every three bites of food. They also sustain our ecosystems and produce our natural resources by helping plants reproduce.
Ahhh, how bee-utiful was that video? If you didn't watch it, go back! Pollinators are some truly amazing critters that do so much for the wellness of our planet, but also to us. We have a lot to be thankful for, the least we could do is share our thanks back to our Pollinators.
What are pollinators?
Birds, bats, butterflies, moths, flies, beetles, wasps, small mammals, and most importantly, bees are pollinators. They visit flowers to drink nectar or feed off of pollen and transport pollen grains as they move from spot to spot.
Pollinators travel from plant to plant carrying pollen on their bodies in a vital interaction that allows the transfer of genetic material critical to the reproductive system of most flowering plants – the very plants that:
bring us countless fruits, vegetables, and nuts,
½ of the world’s oils, fibers and raw materials;
prevent soil erosion,
and increase carbon sequestration
This nearly invisible ecosystem service is a precious resource that requires attention and support as climate change and other human activities are threatening our little workers!
About 75% of all plants, including those in our yards, gardens, and parks, depend on pollinators. Home gardens in urban, suburban, and rural areas play an important role in providing habitat for pollinators and protecting them from threats.
Plant a variety of plants that bloom from early spring to late fall. Planting in clumps will help pollinators find plants. Choose plants that are native to your region (enter your zip code here to find regional planting guides), meaning that they are adapted to local climate, soil, and pollinator species. Including plants that bloom at night will attract bats and moths.
Reduce or eliminate pesticide use. If you must use a pesticide in your yard or garden, use the least toxic product possible. Pesticides can be particularly harmful to bees, so read the product label carefully and apply it at night, when bees and many other pollinators are not active.
Create bee habitat. Leaving a dead tree or tree limb in your yard provides nesting habitat for bees (make sure dead trees/limbs are not safety hazards for people working below them). You can also create a “bee condo” by drilling holes of various sizes about three to five inches deep in a piece of scrap lumber. Mount the lumber to a post or under eaves with southern exposure.
Provide nectar for hummingbirds. Make nectar by combining four parts water to one part table sugar (do not use honey, artificial sweeteners, or fruit juices). Add something red to the feeder to attract hummingbirds, and be sure to clean the feeder with hot, soapy water twice a week.
Learn more about pollinators. Visit The Pollinator Partnership website to learn more about National Pollinator Week, get fast facts about pollinators, access garden guides, and more.