National Pollinator Week
June 17 – 23 is National Pollinator Week. Pollinators are more than just bees; they also include birds, bats, moths, flies, butterflies, beetles, an even some small mammals. These animals and insects assist in transporting pollen grains from the anther part of a flower to the stigma. While plants can sometimes self-pollinate, or have assistance from wind and water, pollinators are the biggest contributors in this process. Most flowering plants (75%- 95%) 1 will need pollinators, and those pollinators will pollinate over 180,000 plant species and 1,200 crops 2, 3.
Humans, animals, and the ecosystem rely on these pollinators for food, fiber, and clothing, and much more. One out of every three bites of food humans consume is a result of pollinators 2, 3, and in the United States, between 1.2 and 4.5 billion dollars in agriculture productivity is due to honey bees alone4.
Here are a few things that we can do to assist pollinators:
- Plant pollinator-friendly plants in your garden and yard. Plant flowering shrubs, trees and perennials to provide food for a variety of species early in the spring. Also plan garden plantings for spring, summer and fall blooms to provide a food source all year long.
- Incorporate a variety of colors and shapes of flowers, to attract a broader diversity of pollinators.
- Make sure you have a water source for your pollinators. While it is important they have a food source, a water source is just as important.
- Pollinators need a variety of habitats: sunny spaces, forests, downed logs, dirt piles, prairie, and undisturbed ground. You may also provide habitats for pollinators in the forms of bird houses, butterfly boxes, or insect houses.
- Plant fallow or abandoned fields in native wildflowers. Native species are adapted to local pollinators, and some require certain species of moth, butterfly, bee, insect, bat or bird to pollinate them.
Butler SWCD is partnering with the Ohio Pollinator Habitat Initiative (OIHP) to collect and distribute common and swamp milkweed seeds. Milkweed is a main food source for Monarch Butterflies in Ohio. Every September 1 through October 30, landowners can drop off dried milkweed seed pods to the Butler SWCD office, located at 1802 Princeton Road, Hamilton, Ohio. Butler SWCD receives the cleaned and sorted seeds form OIHP in the spring and has free seed packets for anyone who wants to plant milkweed seed on their property. For more information about pollinators visit www.pollinators.org, if you are interested in collecting or planting milkweed, please contact Butler SWCD office at 513-887-3720.
Pollinator Fun Fact: Butler County is home to a vital part of “pollinator history.” In the 1850’s, Lorenzo Langstroth, a minister in Oxford, invented the moveable frame hive. He was nicknamed “The Beeman of Oxford” and “The Father of American Beekeeping”, and his invention is still the most common style of beehive in use today.
- Ollerton J, Winfree R, and Tarrant S (2011) How many flowering plants are pollinated by animals? Oikos 120:321-326.
- Klein AM., Vaissiere B, Cane JH, Steffan-Dewenter I, Cunningham SA, Kremen C (2007) Importance of crop pollinators in changing landscapes for world crops. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 274: 303–313;
- Buchmann S, Nabhan GP (1996) The Forgotten Pollinators. Island Press, New York.
- Southwick EE, Southwick L (1999) Estimating the Economic Value of Honey Bees (Hymenoptera: Apidae) as Agricultural Pollinators in the United States. Journal of Economic Entomology 85:(3):13