Kentucky Celebrates National Pollinator Week
When you hear the word “pollen” what is the first thing that comes to mind? For many people, seasonal allergies are a common answer. However, pollen is much than an allergy producer; it is an essential part of our food system. How essential? One in three bites of food we eat depends on a pollinator. That’s why five years ago the U.S. Senate unanimously approved and designated the last week in June as National Pollinator Week. The goal of Pollinator Week is to raise awareness about the importance of pollinators to plants, animals, and humans. This year we celebrate National Pollinator Week June 18th-24th. This is also the first year that Kentucky has officially proclaimed National Pollinator Week throughout the state. Governor Steve Beshear officially declared Kentucky’s support for this important issue on June 4th.
Pollinating animals such as bees, bats, butterflies, and birds make up a large variety of pollinators in the United States. In fact, there are more than 200,000 animal species that pollinate. As they gather nectar and pollen for their survival, these animals are responsible for the reproduction of seventy-five percent of all flowering plants and two-thirds of crop plants! Some crops, such as cocoa harvested for chocolate, depend solely on pollinators for their reproduction. If you’ve enjoyed chocolate recently you can thank a midge, a tiny two-winged fly. Pollinators also contribute to biodiversity as they travel. For example, a typical worker honeybee visits an average of two thousand flowers in one day.
A rise in problems such as pesticides, diseases, habitat loss, Colony Collapse Disorder, and a lack of education mean that pollinators need our help. There are many easy ways that we can ensure pollinators remain happy, healthy and productive. Here’s how you can help:
- Reduce your impact. Reduce or eliminate your pesticide use, increase green spaces, and minimize urbanization. Pollution and climate change affect pollinators, too!
- Plant for pollinators. Create pollinator-friendly habitat with native flowering plants that supply pollinators with nectar, pollen, and homes. Even a small container garden can make a big impact. For information on what to plant in your area, download a free ecoregional guide online at www.pollinator.org.
- Tell a friend. Educate your neighbors, schools, and community groups about
the importance of pollinators. Host a dinner, a pollinated food cook-off or
other event and invite your friends.
- Get closer. Visit your local zoo or Cooperative Extension office to see pollinators up close and learn more interesting facts about their important contributions. Also, there are several great books for both children and adults available at your local library.
- Join the Pollinator Partnership. Go to www.pollinator.org and click on “Get Involved.” Be part of a growing community of pollinator supporters.
I hope that you’ll take a few moments during the week of June 18th-24th to learn some more facts about pollinators, enjoy a perfectly ripe piece of fruit, or do a few of the simple actions above..