Protecting pollinators is a priority to preserve the main link in the food chain | News, Sports, Jobs


Let’s start with a lesson in Sesame Street: This lesson is brought to you by animals that begin with the letter B: bats, butterflies, beetles, birds, and bees.

This week is Pollinator Week, an annual celebration in support of pollinator health to raise awareness and spread the word about how to protect pollinators.

What is pollination?

It is the transfer of pollen to a plant, most often carried out by a pollinating animal, which allows fertilization and reproduction.

How does pollination work?

When a pollinator, such as a bee, collects nectar from a plant, such as a flower, the pollen from the stamen sticks to the bee. When the bee visits the next flower, some of this pollen rubs onto the pistil of the plant, fertilizing the flower so it can produce seed. Pollinators distribute pollen to allow plants to reproduce, and plants compensate for this service with nectar, some providing living and breeding habitat for pollinators.

Why are pollinators so important?

More than 80% of plant species on Earth need a pollinating animal species to reproduce and survive. A third of all food production for all animals, including animal species that consume other animals, depends on the work of pollinators. Thus, pollinators are responsible for one in every three bites of food you eat. This is why pollinators are so important.

The relationship between plants and pollinators is so symbiotic, so mutually dependent for existence, that it is part of some grand design or incredible adaptation over the eternities. The fossil record shows that the beetles that were abundant during the Mesozoic era were the oldest known pollinators – and they continue their work even today, with some species specially bred for certain flowers.

If you think food prices are high today, imagine what they would be like if a third of the food supply were cut off by this kind of break in the food chain. That’s why the decline of pollinators – 13 species of bees have gone extinct in the last few decades – should be of concern to all of us, whether carnivores or vegans.

There are several reasons for this alarming decline, including the collapse of bee colonies, habitat loss and climate change. Since climate change is a cause of habitat loss and a suspected factor in colony collapse, let’s examine how it has contributed to pollinator decline.

According to the National Park Service, climate change is altering growing and flowering seasons, which weakens the plant life that pollinators depend on. Warmer weather also changes migration patterns and times.

Pollinators sensitive to temperature changes that signal migration periods. If migrating pollinators like monarch butterflies migrate too early, the milkweed plants they exclusively depend on are not mature enough to provide food and habitat. In the fall, when the warm weather lasts longer, they migrate too late. Monarch populations have declined in recent years.

There are pollinator protection measures that everyone can take:

• Ensure safe and healthy ecosystems by avoiding pesticides and insecticides, which can harm unwanted pollinator species and their food plants.

• Compost food and organic waste. The composition creates a healthy, nutrient-rich soil that promotes plant growth. Brown County has backyard composters for sale, but the county should consider a larger-scale operation available to all residents, including those in multi-residential units, to participate.

Composting is a win-win solution for reducing waste and turning it into superior soil. In addition to home composition, people with available property can plant pollinator gardens to literally create pollinator habitat. There are several types of gardens to attract species by providing food and habitat using native plants to preserve and encourage biodiversity, some short and some tall and eliminating invasive species.

Websites like offer instructions on how to create pollinator gardens, which can also include berries and herbs like basil, cilantro, and chives that attract pollinators.

To help pollinators, you can start now: Share the situation and acquaintances with others like friends, family, colleagues and acquaintances, as well as offer tips and advice found here.

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