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National Pollinator Week is June 15 - 22, 2015

National Pollinator Week is June 15 - 22, 2015

Who are the pollinators, what is pollination, and why does it matter?

Eight years ago the U.S. Senate unanimously approved the designation of a week in June as National Pollinator Week. The idea for Pollinator Week was originated, and is currently managed, by the Pollinator Partnership -- a non-profit that promotes research, outreach and education about pollinators and their importance. The Partnership has strong ties with institutions, organizations, corporations and individuals nationwide that share a concern for conservation.

Pollinating animals include bees, birds, bats, butterflies, beetles and many other tiny flying creatures, and they are vital for agriculture and food production around the globe

Pollination occurs when pollen grains are moved - either by pollinators or the wind - between two blossoms of the same plant species. Successful pollination, which may require visits by multiple pollinators, results in healthy fruit and fertile seeds, which enables plants to reproduce. This activity is one of the foundations of the food chain. We can thank pollinators for an estimated one-third of all the food and beverages we consume. And in the U.S., pollination produces an estimated $20 billion worth of products a year!

And pollinators are in trouble. From all over the world come disturbing reports that these creatures are threatened by loss of habitat, chemical and pesticide misuse, invasive and introduced plant and animal species, as well as diseases and parasites, and, of course, climate change. In the U.S., many pollinators are already federally “listed species,”meaning that there is evidence that they're disappearing even in natural areas.

The purpose of Pollinator Week is to alert us to the plight of these creatures, remind us of their importance, and promote practical ways that individuals and groups can get involved in protecting them.

To get started, we can do things such as planting a pollinator-friendly garden, which uses native plants, especially those that provide nectar for pollinators. We could consider substituting flower beds for lawns. We can reduce the use of pesticides, or if we must use them, try to find the least toxic ones, and apply them at night, when most pollinators aren't active. We might install "houses" for bats or native bees, because unlike hive bees, most wild bee species native to the U.S. don’t live in colonies, and rarely sting. There may also be volunteer opportunities in pollinator-friendly organizations and garden groups. For more information and materials, or to find group activities in your area, visit the Pollinator Partnership website at (www.pollinator.org).

On the national level, the White House recently released their National Strategy to Protect Pollinators and Their Habitat. This means that for the first time, pollinator conservation is now embedded into the work of every federal agency.

In short, Pollinator Week is an invitation to all of us at every level, to pay attention and get involved helping these tiny, mostly unnoticed creatures that are critical to our survival -- and right under our noses.

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