Image from USDA.gov

Those agriculture folks know how to party…image from USDA.gov

I know, we almost missed it! If you think about it, though, we here in the northern hemisphere have the rest of the summer and early autumn to appreciate all of the birds, bats, bees, butterflies, small mammals, and other insects who pollinate our flowers and crops.

Some facts about pollinators:

  • There are more than 200,000 species of pollinators.
  • 75% of flowering plants rely upon pollinators for the fertilization necessary to produce fruit and seeds.
  • Pollinators make possible some of our favorite foods, spices, and flavorings, such as blueberries, strawberries, tomatoes, chocolate, vanilla, and almonds.
  • Bats are the only ones who pollinate the agave plant, which is used to make tequila.
  • A teeny fly called a midge is the only species that pollinates the cacao tree, which gives us the cacao beans to make chocolate.
  • Honey bees alone are responsible for pollinating 15 billion dollars’ worth of crops every year.
  • Pollinator populations are dwindling because of exposure to pesticides, the decline of their habitats, and various pathogenic stressors.

What can you do to help pollinators?

  • If you have a yard, plant pollinator-friendly flowers, staggering the time the flowers bloom, if possible. Here’s a great guide, Selecting Plants for Pollinators, from Pollinator Partnership. You type in your zip code, and it compiles a list of beneficial plants that work well in your ecoregion. There’s even a free app on this page that you can download to your smartphone. Here are a few pics of my backyard, where plants, bird feeders and bird houses are crammed in a small space:

mid-June 2015 021mid-June 2015 023mid-June 2015 011

  • Reduce your use of pesticides.
  • Install a bat house on your property. Some species eat a lot of mosquitoes. A bonus!
  • Supply fresh water for birds, bees, and other pollinators.
  • Attend a National Pollinator Week event in your area. There’s something going on nearly everywhere. Check out this page for details.
Image via pollinator.org

Image via pollinator.org

  • Support your local beekeepers. Many sell their honey at farmer’s markets. Also, I found this cool Indiegogo invention that’s being crowd-funded right now. You have to check out this awesome device, whether or not you would ever do beekeeping. While the conventional harvesting of honey is a difficult process and stressful on the bees, this method is as simple as turning a spigot!

Source: Flow Hive: Honey on Tap Directly From Your Beehive | Indiegogo

Isn’t that amazing? There’s no way we could keep bees in our townhouse backyard, but it looks so cool.

How will you celebrate National Pollinator Week? Plant a flowering shrub? Eat some honey or chocolate? I’d love to hear from you.

Starting next week, I will be on a summer blogging hiatus, so that I can spend more time working on edits to the fourth book in the Concordia Wells Mysteries, and finish the first draft of the sequel to Never Sleep. I’ll also be spending time roasting marshmallows, star-gazing, listening to the crickets, playing boardgames, and hanging out with my family. I hope you enjoy your summer, too!

~Kathy

 

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