Welcome to National Pollinator Week 2020!
The U.S. Senate designated the first Pollinator Week in 2007, making 2020 the 13th observance in celebration and building awareness of our essential pollinators.
Pollinators are responsible for pollinating roughly 75% of our food crops and over 75% of all flowering plants. Without pollinators, the world would be a less beautiful and healthy place, let’s take some time this week to show them our appreciation and take some steps to make their lives (and ours!) better.
Why are pollinators important?
Pollinators play a key role in plant reproduction for the majority of flowering plant species. When pollinators, such as bees, butterflies, bats, birds, and many other insects visit flowers, they end up moving pollen from flower to flower, which results in plant fertilization. While some plants are able to self-fertilize, they are healthier and more productive when they are fertilized with pollen from other flowers (of the same species).
There are about 200,000 species of pollinators worldwide and only about 1,000 of those are vertebrates, such as bats, birds, and small mammals. All the rest are species of invertebrates such as flies, wasps and ants, butterflies and moths, beetles, and of course bees.
Red milkweed beetle
Zygaenid dayflying moth
Many pollinators are also what we call keystone species, meaning that they play a critical role in ecosystem health. For example, a number of plants such as blueberries and cranberries depend on bumble bees specifically to pollinate them using their “buzz” pollination to shake pollen free from their flowers—without bumblebee species in the ecosystem, these plants would suffer great decline and possibly even extinction.
Over the last 20 years or so, it has become increasingly clear that pollinators are in great decline, in some instances at an unsustainable rate. While researchers are still working to learn more about the causes behind this decline in population numbers and species diversity, some key factors are already known: loss of habitat and food sources, pesticide use, pollution, climate change, light pollution, and global spread of disease and parasites. While we won’t take a deep dive into these factors, here, there are some simple ways we can support pollinators right at home.
Join us this week in celebrating and supporting our pollinators, by challenging yourself to learn and share one new thing about pollinators or commit to an action this week! Check out the resources below to get started.
How can you help?
There are countless ways we can positively impact pollinator health and here are a few resources and simple steps to help get you started:
- Reduce your impact!
- Eliminate your pesticide use
- Increase green spaces, but minimize traditional grass lawns
- Verify that plants you purchase from garden centers haven’t been treated with pesticides
- Leave areas of your yard undisturbed in fall and winter to create habitat
- Create pollinator-friendly homes and habitat with native flowering plants!
- Attract pollinators to your garden using native plants (USFS)
- MN Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR): what to plant?
- Your yard can BEE the change when you participate in the Lawns to Legumes program
- Build a Bee Condo
- Enter your zip code to find an extensive resource packet for planting for pollinators in your region
- Educate yourself and others about the importance of pollinators!
- Get involved!
Check out these 5 things kids can do to help pollinators!
Show us what you’re learning and doing this week using the hashtag #PollinatorWeek and tag us @BellMuseum on social media. We can’t wait to see where the week takes you!