Pollinator week brings awareness to pollination and honeybees

·5 min read

Next time you sink your teeth into a ripe, juicy peach or fluffy biscuits drizzled with honey, thank the bugs.

Without pollinators like bees, butterflies and some other insects, the global food supply would be in jeopardy. In fact, pollinators contribute $24 billion to the U.S. economy annually through agriculture and jobs, according to White House analysts.

But thanks to climate change, the number of pollinators is dwindling.

That's prompted organizations worldwide to draw attention to the problem. From No Mow May to National Pollinator Week, efforts are underway to boost the pollinator population.

What is pollination?

According to the U.S. Forest Service, pollination Pollination "is the act of transferring pollen grains from the male anther of a flower to the female stigma." Pollination is how plants reproduce. As plants and flowers grow, insects get hungry and are attracted to that plant or flower. The insect lands on a plant, and pollen sticks to the insect. The bug travels around, spreading pollen to other plants of the same species, which then create seeds.

Who are the main pollinators?

Honeybees are the main pollinators when it comes down to getting the job done. The problem is that honeybees are dying.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, one of the main sources of a honeybee's death is the American foulbrood disease. The FDA did approve three antibiotics to fight the disease; it's still killing bee colonies at an alarming rate.

Their deaths are also due to the many different things going on in today's society like climate change, droughts, air pollution, habitat destruction and human error.

What this translates into are fewer crops. Honeybees make up $15 billion in crop value. Almost one-third of the food we consume is created by honeybees through pollination.

A bee pollinates a flower at the Oudolf Garden on Belle Isle in Detroit  on Friday, June 17, 2022.
A bee pollinates a flower at the Oudolf Garden on Belle Isle in Detroit on Friday, June 17, 2022.

Many former habitats for bees are being destroyed by urban development. This leaves bees with less and less nutrition to stay alive.

With honeybees dying, that means plants are dying, too.

Bill Schneider, owner of Wildtype Native Plant Nursery in Mason says that while everyone knows the honeybee, they are actually not native to North America.

"It is just one of many insects that pollinate our plants," Schneider said. "There's surprisingly an undue amount of familiarity with the honeybee (yet) almost no familiarity with all the other insects that support our native plants and our crops."

More: Michigan gas prices decrease for first time in weeks, remain above $5 a gallon, AAA says

Organizations fighting for pollinators

One way to help boost pollinators is by finding them a richer food supply and providing more accommodating quarters. When it comes to food, naturalists point to native plants.

Wildtype Native Plant Nursery grows native Michigan plants and provides ecological services to residential, public and commercial properties. They focus on native plants why

Native plants grow better and are more healthy than nonnative species because they already have adapted to their climate, water, and other environmental aspects to thrive.

Yarrow flowers near the Belle Isle tower at the Oudolf Garden on Belle Isle in Detroit on Friday, June 17, 2022. A variety of pollination insects from bumblebees to honeybees visit all day long.
Yarrow flowers near the Belle Isle tower at the Oudolf Garden on Belle Isle in Detroit on Friday, June 17, 2022. A variety of pollination insects from bumblebees to honeybees visit all day long.

Michigan examples of native species include sugar maples, highbush blueberries, and American beech trees just to name a few.

Increasingly, Michigan groups like Plymouth Pollinators, which was created in 2019, are working to improve their community for pollinators and be a resource that provides information to others in the community about why pollination is a big deal.

Part of their goal also includes trying to figure out how to add native plants to more and more individuals' private gardens.

Global organization Pollinator Partnership is a nonprofit accepting donations and providing information on how you can get involved globally or in your region.

Plant sales and activities

  • Plymouth Pollinators have weeklong events geared toward volunteer week, pollinator-themed movies at their local libraries, talks, and donation campaigns. To learn more about their activities you can check out their website or Facebook page.)

  • Plant stores like Nature Niche, 2004 W. Wacklerly in Midland, are having a native plant sale during the week. For six plants or more, buyers can get a 5% discount and ask questions for additional information. The native plants are produced by Wildtype Native Plant Nursery. They are also particularly selected for the Midland area. Nature Niche is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10. a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

  • On Aug. 27, West Bloomfield Parks and Recreation Commission will host a pollinator festival at Marshbank Park that will feature free demonstrations from Bees in the D, hands-on activities, and other educational tools for learning about pollinators. The event is from 10 a.m. to noon.

Consider getting rid of your lawn

Schneider suggests reducing your lawn because it would be a positive effort in saving pollinator's habitats.

"Most people could easily reduce the amount of turf they have around their homes by 20% without hardly even noticing it," Schneider said.

If removing grass and turf is not an option, cutting your grass less is an option.

Campaigns like No Mow May suggest that in the month of May, individuals should not cut their grass to allow habitat to grow early for pollinators. The conservative initiative was created in the United Kingdom by Plantlife but now has moved to North America.

More: Camp Grayling seeks to more than double in size, using 162,000 acres of Michigan land

The Natural Area of Preservation in Ann Arbor has listed some ways on their website that individuals can help out pollinators.

  • Be mindful of the kind of plants, you are buying. Make sure they have not been treated with strong chemicals like neonicotinoid pesticides.

  • Avoid using toxic gardening methods on foods, trees, and ornamental plants. Herbicides have a tendency to kill the nutrition that pollinators need to do their job.

  • Create a rain garden strictly for pollinators that attracts them and reduces runoff.

  • Make a bee home to attract bees to your gardens.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Pollinator Week brings communities together to fight for pollinators