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Posted on July 22nd, 2015 in Forestry, Gardening, Plants, Urban Forestry, Wildlife | No Comments »
Bee Pollinating

Photo credit: Colin Hutton

An often overlooked part of the ecosystem responsible for our food and environmental health are the pollinators. This group of animals move pollen from flower to flower, fertilizing seeds, fruits and vegetables. Pollinators include honey bees, native bees, moths, beetles, birds and bats, and they are struggling. 40% of honey bee colonies have been lost in the last year, and in the past two decades, over 90% of Monarch butterflies have disappeared.

After noticing this sharp decline, large efforts are starting to take place to restore the pollinator population. The Pollinator Partnership has created a Pollinator Week every year from June 15-21 where the pollinator’s importance is highlighted through local events. The White House has announced a National Strategy to Promote Pollinator Health in hopes to return the pollinator population to a sustainable level. In Norway, a connected network of honeybee habitats dubbed the Bee Highway was created. At the large scale, many initiatives are starting to form, but it is important to know that we can also be helpful on an individual level.

Our gardens and landscapes are the homes of many pollinators, providing the food, water and shelter that they need. When planting a garden or landscape, it is important to take this into consideration and follow a few simple guidelines. For an adequate food supply, aim for at least three flower species in bloom at a time. For shelter, pollinators can benefit from a break from the wind and sun provided by plants, fences and other structures. Finally, pesticides should be limited and used in a controlled way. Pick spray instead of dust-based pesticide. Try to use it only when necessary, follow all label directions and spray only in the early morning or at dusk when pollinators are less active. Keep these guidelines in mind, and your garden or landscape will be an attractive home for pollinators!

For more information, please check out the June column of Purdue Yard & Garden News.

Gardening for Pollinators, Purdue Yard & Garden News
News Columns & Podcasts, Purdue Agriculture
How to Minimize Pesticide Damage of Honey Bees, The Education Store
Honey Bees, Indiana Department of Natural Resources
Pollinator Partnership

B. Rosie Lerner
Extension Consumer Horticulturist, Purdue Extension

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