National Pollinator Week

This week is National Pollinator Week, a week where we celebrate and acknowledge the efforts of our pollinators. National Pollinator Week was originally designated by the US Senate 13 years ago in 2007. This is now an internationally recognized week of celebration for our pollinators. So wasp all the buzz about our pollinators?

Our pollinators are facing an extreme threat of dying out. We need to acknowledge ways to help our pollinators soon, otherwise there’s a good chance that it can have irrecoverable effects on our environment. If we lose our pollinators, we will have to mechanically pollinate our fruits and vegetables. Mechanical pollination, also known as hand pollination, is the manual transfer of pollen from one plant to another plant, whenever natural pollination is either unavailable or undesirable. Nobody can do this job like our pollinators can. But if we don’t pay attention to the signs, then we really do risk losing some of our most important ecosystem shapers. Already, there are parts of the world devoid of pollinators, having to rely on mechanical pollination in order to sustain their agricultural operations. 

So what exactly are the things we should be looking out for?

Climate Change

Pollinators have a symbiotic relationship with the plants they pollinate. Pollinators pollinate the plants and in return get energy from the plants they breed to bring back to the hive for food. But, due to climate change, flowers and other plants that pollinators rely on for food are blooming a day earlier each year, and although that may not seem like a big deal at first, when you put into consideration the fact that we are now seeing plants bloom a whole month earlier than before, one must also consider how this is a whole month of food shortage for bees. And, if plants bloom earlier then the window for breeding is closing each year as well.

Acute Poisoning of Pollinators

This is when a mass of bees have died near the hive, usually from the use of pesticides. When we see dead bees massed very close to the hive, the cause is usually pesticide being sprayed in order to stop the bees from being “pests.” This shouldn’t be confused with Colony Collapse Disorder.

Colony Collapse Disorder

Colony Collapse Disorder, or CCD, is a new phenomenon where worker bees die out in the field, usually never near the hive, leaving the queen and nursery bees alone in their hives. This creates an abundance of resources, but no one to raise the next generation of bees, and so, the hive cannot sustain itself, and it collapses. 

CCD can happen for many reasons, such as:

  • Pesticide being sprayed on crops poisoning the bees in the field before they can return to the hive with energy. 
  • Climate Change moving bees from their habitats and having to re-adapt to quickly. 
  • Low nutrition
  • Stress, typically from being moved to a new environment and trying to survive in their new location. 

If we don’t pay attention to these signs, we could lose not just our pollinators, but all of the benefits they bring, too. 

Without pollinators we will lose:

  • Honey
  • Coffee
  • Tree fruits like apples, peaches, limes, and cherries.
  • Grapes (and consequently, wine.)
  • Chocolate
  • And much, much more. 

So what can we do to help?

  • Look for sustainable gardening practices that don’t use pesticides.
  • Plant flowers for pollinators to help pollinate, giving them energy that they need.
  • Reduce your carbon footprint, buy local and organic products.
  • Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
  • Provide your pollinators with shallow pools of water with rocks, so that they can drink water without fear of drowning.
  • Support your local beekeepers
  • Contact local authorities to deal with unwanted hives so they can RELOCATE (not POISON) them.
  • Start your OWN Hive!

 

By: Ross Bryant

Ross is an Environmental Studies and Public Relations Dual Major at Berry College. Ross is a Bonner Scholar at Berry College, and also volunteers for Keep Rome Floyd Beautiful up in Rome, Georgia. Ross recycles cardboard and plastic in order to help be actively sustainable, as well as reuse shopping bags. For the Summer of 2020, follow Ross in his studies in order to become more conscious of sustainable practices.

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