(WFXR) — If you feel grateful for cups of coffee or juicy strawberries, now is the perfect time to thank a pollinator because it’s National Pollinator Week!
According to the Virginia Farm Bureau, National Pollinator Week — an annual event held from June 21 through June 27 — was designated by the U.S. Senate to highlight the significance of pollinator populations like bees, birds, and butterflies are to the production of food and fiber.
The nonprofit Pollinator Partnership says more than 75% of all flowering plants on Earth need help with pollination — plants that are responsible for U.S. food and half of the world`s oils, fibers and raw materials.
“Pollinators are vital to reproduction for many plants including most fruits, vegetables and legumes produced on Virginia farms,” said Tony Banks, senior assistant director of agriculture, development and innovation for Virginia Farm Bureau Federation. “Without pollinators, it would be very difficult, if not impossible, for plants like watermelon, peaches or peanuts to fruit or establish in the flower.”
For example, honeybees are responsible for $1.2 to $5.4 billion in U.S. agricultural productivity. Meanwhile, other essential pollinators include ants, birds, bats, beetles, butterflies, wasps, and small mammals.
However, many pollinator populations are dropping. The Virginia Farm Bureau says 25% of bumblebee species are considered in serious decline while the monarch butterfly population has declined by 90% in the past 20 years.
“Fewer pollinators in a field are likely to result in some plant flowers not being pollinated, which could reduce the size of the crop and, therefore, less income for farmers,” Banks explained. “Farmers have to manage farms and activities to minimize impacts on pollinator species, including maintaining pollinator habitat and foraging areas, and applying pesticides properly and according to the label to reduce any potential negative effects.”
Virginians can help encourage pollinators, though, by planting a window box or small garden or buying local honey to support area beekeepers.
If you plan on planting a garden, here are some tips from the Pollinator Partnership and Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services:
- Use native plants, and plant in clusters that serve as a target for pollinators and increase their efficiency.
- Choose plants that bloom in the spring through the fall so pollinators have a continuous food supply.
- Select a wide variety of plants. with multiple colors, shapes, heights and fragrances.
- Provide a water source with sloping sides, such as a bird bath, and change the water frequently to avoid mosquitoes. Keep in mind that birds prefer deep water, but butterflies and bees like shallow water.
- Reduce your use of pesticides.
- Visit pollinator.org/guides for area-specific planting guides.
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