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Pollinator Week

Pollinator Week

It’s officially National Pollinator’s Week and we are ecstatic! Plant Sentry™ prides itself on helping make the Earth a better place for growing and sharing plants, so naturally, Pollinator’s Week is right up our alley. 


While underestimated in their value and importance, the list of pollinators includes around 200,000 species. Besides insects like bees, butterflies and beetles; there are 1,000 vertebrates on the list such as birds, bats, and other small mammals. Because of their impact, pollinators are some of the most important species on the planet.

The Key to Pollinating

A large portion of the pollinator population is made up of what are known as keystone species. Keystone species are essential to the environmental survival of their habitats. Many times keystone species become compromised when hunting, habitat degradation, and agricultural pursuits alter their ecosystems in a way that the species can not keep up with.

If the keystone species can no longer survive its habitat, then the ecosystem it supports can no longer survive.

This is seen in the case of the world’s largest pollinator, the white ruffed lemurs. While they may be the largest pollinator, their home of Madagascar has undergone extreme environmental renovations over the past several years.[1] Why are white and black ruffed lemurs endangered? Forest fragmentation and habitat loss have resulted in these pollinators being listed as critically endangered.

Pollination Can Get Batty

Lemurs aren’t the only pollinators at risk in our modern world. Due to recent innovations in wind energy bat pollination is also at risk. Wind farms are responsible for killing somewhere between 650,000 to 1.3 million bats between 2000 and 2011.

The bat species that are seen most at risk are the two federally endangered species of the Hawaiian hoary bat (Lasiurus cinereus semotus) and the Indiana myotis (Myotis sodalis). [2] It is uncertain as to what exactly attracts the bats to the wind turbines, but scientists are working diligently to figure it out. 

Over 500 different plant species rely on pollination by bats. Fruits such as bananas, guava, and mangoes wouldn’t flower without a bat and their love for nectar. Other important agricultural plants that bats pollinate are the agave plant, used for tequila and balsa trees, used for lightweight timber. [3]

The Buzzzziest Pollinator

In recent years, bees have finally been recognized for all of their hard work! The efforts of bee pollination add up to approximately $235-$577 billion USD in global food production, annually. [4] Bees are responsible for the pollination of goods such as apples, broccoli, cranberries, melons, and sometimes cherries and blueberries

A combination of habitat loss, pollutants, climate change, the Varroa mite, bacterial diseases, travel, and irresponsible chemical usage all add up to be contributing factors that make it difficult for bee populations to survive in high numbers. The common solution that many humans turn to is becoming a honey beekeeper in hopes to boost the population. But, the honey bee isn’t the only bee. [6]

There are roughly 25,000 other bee populations on our planet.

Depending upon the food source and the environment of the wild bees, the honey bee could be invasive. While many of these species look similar to the honey bee, the ecosystems they sustain are often drastically different. [5]

Your Impact & Responsibility

As the human population continues to grow there is an ever-increasing need for more food. 

Part of the critical role that pollinators have is pollinating a number of crops for humans. Due to the decline of pollinators worldwide, in 2016 it was reported that farmers in China had turned to pollination by hand. 

To achieve the same pollination of their pear trees that had once been received by bees and other insects, people were paid to use a brush to exchange pollen from male to female trees. It’s estimated that a human can pollinate only 5-10 trees a day, merely a fraction of the amount bees can cover. [4]

This research led to the question of “What if this is our future normal?” 

The idea that someday swarms of insects will no longer exist to fulfill the task of pollination raises many red flags. Beyond the scope of agricultural needs is the concept of ecosystem structure. As mentioned earlier, entire environments depend on the role of keystone species, and the species they affect in order for ecosystems to thrive and survive. 

The policies and procedures that we as humans have used for centuries may have been enough in the past. But, looking forward to how humans interact with our planet and our environments, will depend on the change we implement and care we take to preserve and restore the damages we cause.

Helping Pollinators

As attention has continued to be paid towards the decline of the pollinator population, humans are more eager than ever to lend a helping hand in rehabilitating these species. 

Where to start in helping the pollinator population can seem challenging at first, but organizations such as the Pollinator Partnership and National Wildlife Federation have developed programs that can locate pollinator plants good for your area. 

Growing landscapes for bees and other pollinators is a great way to help recover the loss of pollinators without taking on too much work. Pollinator plants attract pollinators and give them the sustenance they need to keep moving.

While science is continually growing, it will be the responsibility of communities to implement the checks and balances necessary to keep our pollinators alive.

Plant Sentry™ practices this belief in the services we offer our clients in helping mitigate pests and protect against disease. It’s not always easy to decide what the right move is, but with our help, the load feels a lot lighter.

For more information on how you can help protect pollinators and your plants, be sure to visit our Our Services page to learn more about our practices. If you have questions or interest about our services, Contact Us for more information.

Citations:

[1] Black and White Ruffed Lemur. 17 Feb. 2020, lemur.duke.edu/discover/meet-the-lemurs/black-white-ruffed-lemur/.

[2] Bats & Wind Energy. www.batcon.org/resources/for-specific-issues/wind-power.

[3] “U.S. Forest Service.” Forest Service Shield, www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/pollinators/animals/bats.shtml.

[4] “Shrinking Bee Populations Are Being Replaced by Human Pollinators.” Global Citizen, www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/life-without-bees-hand-human-pollination-rural-chi/.

[5] Victoria A Wojcik, Lora A Morandin, Laurie Davies Adams, Kelly E Rourke, Floral Resource Competition Between Honey Bees and Wild Bees: Is There Clear Evidence and Can We Guide Management and Conservation?, Environmental Entomology, Volume 47, Issue 4, August 2018, Pages 822–833, https://doi.org/10.1093/ee/nvy077

[6] Farah, Troy. “While We Worry About Honeybees, Other Pollinators Are Disappearing.” Discover Magazine, 3 Aug. 2018.