While summertime usually brings the onslaught of pesky critters that munch on our skin and ruin our garden tomatoes, summer is also the time when the pollinators of the world – the bees, birds, bats, butterflies, and the other small mammals who help transfer pollen from plants critical in sustaining our ecosystems – emerge! The Pollinator Partnership hosts an annual “Pollinator Week” (which begins today!) to honor their mission to promote the health of pollinators, critical to food and ecosystems through conservation, education, and research. Although these critters may be pesky or spark fear in us, we need pollinators. And pollinators need us too.
The pollination of plants, which is the act of pollinators carrying the genetic material needed in pollen from one plant to another, is a precious resource. Not only does this act produce one in three bites of food, it also:
- Brings us countless fruits, vegetables, and nuts
- Provides half of the world’s oils, fibers, and raw materials
- Prevents soil erosion
- Increases carbon sequestration
According to The Pollinator Partnership, “Somewhere between 75% and 95% of all flowering plants on the earth need help with pollination – they need pollinators. Pollinators provide pollination services to over 180,000 different plant species and more than 1200 crops. That means that one out of every three bites of food you eat is there because of pollinators. If we want to talk dollars and cents, pollinators add 217 billion dollars to the global economy, and honeybees alone are responsible for between 1.2 and 5.4 billion dollars in agricultural productivity in the United States. In addition to the food that we eat, pollinators support healthy ecosystems that clean the air, stabilize soils, protect from severe weather, and support other wildlife.”
But pollinators are in trouble. Many populations are declining due to loss in food and habitat, pollution, the misuse of chemicals, disease, and climate change, all of which are decreasing the populations of pollinators vital to the sustainability of our eco and food systems.
Pollinators are in danger, but you can help! Studies show that conservation efforts have been working. Adding plant habitats that are suitable for pollinators near farmland has been shown to increase crop yields. Planting the right plants is also important. The Pollinator Partnership has curated an ecoregional planting guide so you can find the right plants for your hometown or neighborhood. They also suggest seven things that you can do to help pollinators, a list which includes:
- Plant for pollinators
- Reduce or eliminate the usage of pesticides
- Register your pollinator habitat site
- Reach out to others to inform or inspire
- Support local bees and beekeepers
- Conserve your resources, reduce and reuse
- Support groups promoting science-based practical efforts for pollinators
If you’re looking for apparel companies that support pollinators, try the ones below!
We encourage you to check out The Pollinator Partnership’s website to see all their resources, and to participate in an event near you.
Every day pollinators are at risk, but with a little help they will be supporting our food and ecosystems for years to come.