If you’ve enjoyed breakfast, lunch or dinner today, chances are you can thank a pollinator. That’s because pollinators — about 200,000 species ranging from flies and beetles to butterflies and, of course, bees — are responsible for helping nearly 75 percent of all flowering plant species to thrive. In fact, according to Pollinator Partnership, about one-third of all foods and beverages are delivered by pollinators. With June 19-25 marking Pollinator Week, there are plenty of ways to pay tribute to this essential segment of the ecosystem.
The working class
Though small in body, pollinators are truly the ecosystem’s heavy lifters. In the United States alone, the work of pollinators helps to produce nearly $20 billion worth of products annually, according to Pollinator Partnership. These products include many you likely know and love — such as blueberries, apples, squash, almonds, chocolate and coffee (did we mention chocolate and coffee?).
Unfortunately, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, pollinator populations are in decline, likely due to habitat loss and degradation, including that caused by pesticide use.
Making an impact
“Pollinator Week is celebrated nationwide as a time to increase awareness of pollinators and their declining populations,” said Beth Reid of Bedner’s Farm & Greenhouse, in McDonald. Declining pollinator populations pose a threat not only to the success of agriculture, but also to dinner tables around the country (and world). With that in mind, the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge encourages everyone to create gardens that provide nectar and pollen sources. These can be any size — from a window box to several acres of land.
“At Bedner’s Farm & Greenhouse, we just installed our own pollinator garden as part of the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge. We hope that it inspires customers to start their own pollinator gardens.”
Pollinators don’t just need human assistance during the warm season. These creatures also need a place to overwinter — meaning somewhere to stay during the winter months.
“It would be beneficial if gardeners would leave some bare ground and dead wood such as logs or tree branches for pollinators. The foliage from grasses and perennials can also serve this purpose and should also be left until late winter or early spring,” Reid said.
Taking time to appreciate
This week, locals can learn more about pollinators and how to support them through a free lecture on pollinator plants from Doug Oster on Sunday, June 25. More information is available at Bedner’s Farm & Greenhouse, or by calling 724-926-2541. You can also learn more from Bedner’s horticulturist Beth Reid through their YouTube channel.
“Pollinators are not only extremely important for our food supply, but a lack of biodiversity in our environment will cause problems for all wildlife that have yet to be foreshadowed,” Reid said. “For example, less seeds and fruits produced from plants in our gardens and natural habitats will result in less birds and other wildlife in our neighborhoods.”
This article is sponsored by Bedner’s Farm & Greenhouse.
A journalism graduate from Brigham Young University, Kristen Price has experience writing in a variety of fields, including art and culture, health and fitness and financial and real estate services. Kristen has written for USA Today, SFGate and the Knot.