In 2007, the U.S. Senate designated a week in June as National Pollinator Week in an effort to raise awareness about the important role pollinators play keeping our ecosystems healthy and supporting agriculture, in addition to addressing the decline in pollinator populations. This year, it’s being celebrated June 16-22.
While bees have gotten a lot of attention in the media, they’re not the only species who work to support wildlife and bring us our favorite foods, including chocolate and coffee. Birds, butterflies, beetles, rodents, bats and many others also work to spread pollen and fertilize plants. If you like Tequila, you can toast to Mexican long-tongued bats, who are the main pollinators of agave. According to Bat Conservation International, if one disappeared, we wouldn’t have the other.
According to the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign 80 percent of food plant species worldwide depend on pollinators. We have them to thank for an estimated one out of every three mouthfuls of food and drink we consume in the U.S. Here are a few ways we can celebrate and help protect pollinators during National Pollinator Week.
Check Out an Event
Individuals, organizations and businesses are taking time out to celebrate pollinators with events and workshops around the country. Find an event near you with this map from the Pollinator Partnership.
Plant for Native Pollinators
Planting native flowering shrubs, trees and flowers that bloom throughout the seasons will attract pollinators and help them thrive. To find out about native plants in your area, download Bee Smart – an app that will help you decide what to plant based on your landscape and which pollinators you want to attract to your garden. Adding habitat by making homes like bat houses and bee boxes can also help draw pollinators and help them survive.
Give Monarch Butterflies a Hand
Populations of Monarch butterflies have been declining for years and among the factors harming them a loss of milkweed, which is critical to their survival, is at the top of the list. Planting native milkweed can help support a future for Monarchs and their amazing migration.
Keep Chemicals Out of Your Yard and Garden
Keep pesticides, herbicides and other chemicals out of your garden and leave the weeds. Some plants, including dandelions and clover, may be considered unsightly on lawns, but they’re an important food source for pollinators.
This week, Beyond Pesticides launched a Pollinator-Friendly Seed Directory that lists companies that sell organic seeds directly to the public to help people avoid buying plants that are grown and treated with harmful chemicals, like the neonicotinoid pesticides that are hurting bees.
Tell the EPA Not to Approve an Agent Orange Herbicide
Dow Chemical wants to register an herbicide that combines glyphosphate, which is already found in Roundup, with a major component of Agent Orange, which is raising serious concerns about how it will harm plants and wildlife.
Please sign and share the petition asking the EPA not to approve a chemical that could be both harmful to us and species who depend on these “weeds.”
Tell the EPA to Save Bees
Environmentalists continue to worry about how the use of insecticides called neonicotinoids will continue to hurt pollinators, including honeybees, but they continue to get approved and companies continue to use them.
Please sign and share the petition asking the EPA not to approve any insecticides unless scientists can be sure they don’t pose a threat to pollinators.
For more information about pollinators and how to help them, visit the Pollinator Partnership.
Photo credit: Thinkstock