Imagine living in a world without flowers or fruit or even coffee or chocolate for that matter. Thanks to the wonderful work of pollinators like bees, much of the food we eat and flowers and plants we enjoy are possible.
And it’s not just bees that are doing all the work. Butterflies, birds, beetles, bats, wasps and even flies are important in the pollination process. But despite the importance of pollinators, they are taken for granted all too often. Worldwide, there is an alarming decline in pollinator populations. Excessive use of pesticides and an ever-expanding conversion of landscapes to human use are the biggest culprits.
It is estimated that more than 1,300 types of plants are grown around the world for food, beverages, medicines, condiments, spices and even fabric. Of these, about 75% are pollinated by animals. More than one of every three bites of food we eat or beverages we drink are directly because of pollinators. Indirectly, pollinators ultimately play a role in the majority of what we eat and consume.
Pollinators are vital to creating and maintaining the habitats and ecosystems that many animals rely on for food and shelter. Worldwide, over half the diet of fats and oils comes from crops pollinated by animals. They facilitate the reproduction in 90% of the world’s flowering plants.
You can make a positive difference in your home environment. Provide a diverse assortment of flowering plants and encourage native species in your landscape. Use pesticides only when necessary and then only late in the day or evening. Look for alternative ways to deal with pest and disease issues before reaching for a quick fix. These often come at a price. Learn about and practice IPM (Integrated Pest Management). The actions you take in and around your garden can either help reduce or promote the population of pollinators in your landscape. Hopefully it’s the latter.