Week 9: The Power of Pollinators
Did you know that June is National Pollinator Month and this week is designated as National Pollinator Week? In 2007 the United States Senate designated the final week of June as National Pollinator Week to draw attention to the declining numbers of pollinators.
It is a time to celebrate the role of pollinators: bees, beetles, bats, butterflies, hummingbirds, and other insects and animals that play a vital role in growing plants and fruits and vegetables to feed the world.
About 75% of the 1400 crop-based plants cultivated in the US depend greatly on the process of pollination. Without pollinators the production of the world’s food supply becomes greatly endangered.
Learn About the Process of Pollination
Watch breathtaking video shows the power of pollinators!
Learn the parts of the flower and the role they play in the pollination process.
Butterflies, Bees, and Bats Oh My!
Many animals are pollinators, moths, birds, flies and even mosquitoes! We would love to talk about all of these fine pollinators, but we are going to focus on three: butterflies, bees, and bats…oh my!
Butterflies contribute to the pollination of fruit and flowers. They spend their day gracefully flitting from one large, brightly colored, scented flower to another. Butterflies prefer flowers with a landing platform, such as a Zinnia or Daisy, because they gather pollen as they walk around the flower clusters. Butterflies also probe blossom with their long tongue (or proboscis) to gather nectar.
Bees are considered champion pollinators. There are over 4000 species of native bees in the United States. These pollen seeking creatures visit brightly colored, sweetly scented flowers to collect pollen and nectar that is used to feed themselves and their young.
Listen to the picture book Flight of the Honey Bee by Raymond Huber
Bats are important pollinators for many plants located in warm climates and are critical pollinators for agave, saguaro, and organ pipe cactus. They do their pollinating at night and are extremely effective. Bats are attracted to night blooming tubular-shaped flowers that are white or pale-colored and highly fragrant with a musty fruity aroma.
Go on a pollination scavenger hunt
Become a Citizen Sscientist for Pollinators!
You can help support pollinators by becoming a citizen scientist. Citizen scientists are regular citizens that become involved in gathering data to help monitor numbers and living conditions of the pollinators. Choose a pollinator and get observing!
The process of pollination is a powerful and important one and the pollinators play a huge part in getting the job done but humans can also play a role in supporting the pollination process.
Plant a Pollinator Garden
You can make your pollinator garden in a container, a window box, a raised garden box or in a flower bed.
Follow these steps to create a spot to enjoy watching pollinators at work.
- First create a plot plan arrangement for the garden selecting a variety of plants that flower at different times throughout the growing season. Choose your flowers using this list of Delaware Native Plants for Native Bees, plants that support Monarch butterflies, and Mid-Atlantic Region Pollinator Plants. Choose as many native plants as possible because they attract more native pollinators
- Choose a variety of flower colors and shapes because different pollinators are attracted to different shapes and colors of flowers.
- Plant flowers in clumps instead of singly to better attract pollinators
- Plant herbs such as basil, rosemary, and lavender as a good nectar source for pollinators
- Consider planting milkweed to attract monarch butterfly caterpillars
- After planting the flowers, water thoroughly, then mulch around base of stem
- Monitor temperature and make sure to keep plants well watered
- As the garden blossoms and grows be on the lookout for pollinators
When you’ve completed your pollinator garden you can register it with the Million Pollinator Gardens Network.
Build a Bee Hotel
Pollinators need nesting spots like old logs, piles of old leaves and sticks, hollow stems, or sections of bare earth. If your backyard habitat doesn’t have any of these things, you can build projects to help support our pollinators.
“Bee” Sweet and Make Some Honey Treats
After they do their pollination jobs, bees take the pollen they’ve collected and travel back to the hive to transform it into honey. For many honey is a yummy, sweet delectable treat.
These treats are crafted by combining peanut butter, honey, crushed oatmeal and coconut into bite sized balls. [via:Tory Avey]