Celebrate Pollinator Week: Promoting the Importance of Bees and Pollinators

Busy bumble bee diligently collecting nectar from a flower

Busy bumble bee diligently collects nectar from a flower, facilitating essential pollination. We should all do our part to help promote the preservation and conservation of pollinators for a sustainable and thriving ecosystem. Photo credits Unsplash.

What is National Pollinator Week?

National Pollinator Week was established by the US Senate on September 21, 2006, with the purpose of acknowledging the significance of pollinators in maintaining the health of our ecosystem and supporting agriculture. Since its inception, this week has witnessed a remarkable expansion in terms of support and activities aimed at educating and delving into the world of pollinators.

In 2023, Pollinator Week will be observed from June 19th to the 25th, marking an essential milestone in addressing the pressing concern of declining pollinator populations. This event has evolved into an international celebration that highlights the invaluable ecosystem services rendered by a diverse range of pollinators such as bees, birds, butterflies, bats, beetles, moths, wasps, and flies.

Monarch butterfly gracefully pollinating a milkweed leaf
Majestic Monarch butterfly laying its eggs on a milkweed leaf, establishing a crucial lifecycle connection. Milkweed is a vital plant for their survival, and easy to grow.

The Importance of Bees

Bees play a crucial role in the health and longevity of our ecosystem. Through pollination, bees help ensure there is continuous multiplication of plants, which are responsible for the purification of the atmosphere by taking in carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen. But did you know that climate change affects bees in multiple ways? And there are things you can do to help.

According to Energy.gov it is important to recognize the vitally important role bees play in maintaining the health and longevity of our ecosystem. Bees ensure the continuous multiplication of plants through pollination, which is essential for purifying the atmosphere by absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen. However, climate change has various impacts on bees, and there are actions we can take to help.

How Climate Change Affects Bees

Altering the Scents of Plants

Bees rely on scents to locate plant nectar, their primary food source. Each flower and plant has a unique scent that bees remember during their search for pollen. Due to climate stress, plants have undergone changes in their scents, making it difficult for bees to find suitable food sources. This contributes to the decline in bee populations.

Seasonal Timing Discrepancy

Successful pollination relies on the synchronization of flowering and hatching periods. Climate change has disrupted this timing, resulting in a mismatch between when flowers produce pollen and when bees are ready to feed on it. This mismatch reduces seed production and leads to food shortages for bees.

Loss of Habitat

Bees face challenges in finding suitable habitats and food sources as their habitat ranges shrink. Unlike some other insects, certain bee species have limited adaptability to new habitats. Climate change-induced habitat loss has increased the threat of extinction for native bees.

How to Help Bees During Pollinator Week and Beyond

Vibrant yellow buttercup wildflowers attract pollinators like bees
Vibrant yellow wildflowers (buttercups) creating a picturesque scene, attracting pollinators to aid in the process of pollination.

To help bees during Pollinator Week this year and beyond, here are some actions you can take:

  • Plant native blooming trees, shrubs, and wildflowers in your yard to provide nectar and pollen for pollinators. Resources like the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower database can help you find suitable native plants for your area.
  • Be cautious about purchasing plants. Many commercial plants are sprayed with systemic herbicides that are harmful to bees. Check plant labels for warnings indicating the use of such sprays and avoid purchasing them.
  • Create a diverse garden with a variety of colors, sizes, and flowering seasons. Offering a range of flower options provides the best support for pollinators, including bees. Some bees have specific preferences for native nectar plant species or certain sizes of flowers, so diversity is essential.
  • Provide nesting habitats for bees. While providing hives is beneficial, it’s crucial to note that most bees are solitary and have different nesting requirements. Keep areas of bare soil for ground-nesting bees to burrow and include pithy plant stalks, such as sunflowers, where bees can create their nests. If using a bee hotel, ensure they are disinfected after each season to prevent the spread of bee diseases.

Supporting Pollinators: How You Can Make a Difference

Pollinator Week serves as a significant milestone in recognizing the vital role of pollinators, especially bees, in maintaining the health of our ecosystem. But climate change presents many challenges to these ever-so-important creatures, such as altering the scents of plants, creating a timing discrepancy in seasonal interactions, and causing habitat loss.

The good news is there are actions we can take now to help support bees and other pollinators during Pollinator Week and beyond, and we should all do our part to help promote the preservation and conservation of pollinators for a sustainable and thriving ecosystem.

By taking action and raising awareness about the importance of pollinators, we can create a positive impact on their populations and the overall health of our environment. Whether it’s through planting pollinator-friendly gardens, avoiding the use of harmful pesticides, supporting local beekeepers, or advocating for pollinator-friendly policies, each contribution, no matter how small, plays a significant role in ensuring the well-being of these vital creatures. Together, let’s commit to protecting pollinators and nurturing a future where they can continue their essential work in pollination.

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