4 Ways to Participate in National Pollinator Week

© Ramon Gonzalez

Pollinators play an important role in the cycle of our gardens, health, and agricultural ecosystems. According to the Pollinator.org website, about 75% of all flowering plant species need the help of pollinators to move pollen grains from plant to plant for fertilization.

An estimated 1/3 of all foods and beverages consumed are delivered by pollinators. That accounts for nearly $20 billion worth of products annually in the United States alone.

The majority of pollinators are beneficial insects such as butterflies, bees, beetles, wasps, and ants. A smaller, but equally important role is played by vertebrates such as birds, bats, and various small mammals.

Today marks the start of National Pollinator Week and there are many ways you can celebrate and encourage pollinators where you live.

1. Start a Garden Today

You don’t need a big, expensive, time-consuming garden to create a habitat for pollinators. Start small and grow what will keep you interested in gardening.

If you want to try growing some of your own food there are garden books I recommend. If this is your first time edible gardening try an herb garden to give your green thumb a test run.

FriendOfHumanity/CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Don’t have land? No problem-grow a mobile garden! You can grow practically anything in containers even drool-inducing tomatoes.

© Lechuza

If finding time to water is an issue plant your garden in self-watering planters. Make your garden greener by purchasing and using garden products made sustainably.

© MrBrownThumb

Keep it cheap by starting many of your plants from seeds. Earlier this spring I posted a roundup of links of some of my favorite seed companies and TreeHugger readers chimed in with their 10 favorite seed companies.

2. Make Your New Garden Pollinator-Friendly

© MrBrownThumb

The takeaway from the study that found that honeybees prefer working class gardens is to keep the flower selection simple.

The less complex the flower the better it is for bees. When you’re buying plants or seeds look for keywords like “old fashioned” and “cottage flower."

Choose older plant varieties over seed packets labeled “new introduction” and “improved." New and improved introductions often produce less pollen than their “old-fashioned” counterparts.

© MrBrownThumb

Grow plants that attract butterflies and don’t forget to plant some that will become food for caterpillars. Ensure that there’s a water supply for bees and other pollinators in your garden by setting out a pail of water and floating wine corks in the water.

Butterflies and the European honeybee get all the love and headlines, but our native bees play a role in pollination that is often overlooked. Can you tie a few pieces of bamboo stakes together with a string and hang them from a tree branch? You just created a home for native bees and you're now a native beekeeper.

3. Join a National Pollinator Week Event

There are many events across the U.S., Canada, and Mexico scheduled for this week that you and your family can participate in. Visit the National Pollinator Week event page and click on your state or territory to find a local event you can participate in or start one in your community.

4. Educate Yourself on Pollinators

The days of carrying around voluminous field guides are behind us. Today you can carry an app in your iPhone or Android phone to help you identify pollinators.

On the web, The Great Pollinator Project, Pollinator.org, and the pollinator webpage by the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service host everything you could possibly need to learn about pollinators.

What are you doing this week to celebrate pollinators?

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Tags: Agriculture | Bats | Bees | Biodiversity | Birds | Fruits & Vegetables | Gardening | Insects