Humans have come a long way in their mastery over the plant kingdom, with some researchers estimating that agriculture dates back more than twenty thousand years. As impressive as human agriculture innovations go – aqueducts, rotating crops, and industrialization included –none hold a candle to Mother Nature’s dazzling efficiency and networking. Pollinator week is a seven-day long Senate-appointed celebration of pollination, held each June. This special time is set aside to honor the insects and animals responsible for the types of pollination that fertilize one out of every three bites of food eaten by Americans every day. Without these creatures, everything from food to flowers would fail to grow and thrive, leaving us in an agricultural, weed-choked wasteland.
What Happens During Pollinator Week?
Pollinator week gives one of the most prolific insect pollinators in nature – bees – the spotlight they deserve, as well as honoring other native pollinators like bats, beetles, butterflies, other insects, and even small mammals. The natural life cycles and daily foraging of these creatures help to fertilize plants, trees, and flowers that might otherwise fail to produce edible fruit, vegetables, and nuts. Pollinator Week activities are spread across the country, with details available on an interactive map on the organization’s website. Many events and locations that are already invested in pollinators use this event as a way to showcase their efforts and educate the public in a variety of ways, including:
- Donation-gathering for pollinator-supporting charities and organizations.
- Craft events to create “seed bombs” of local flora to support pollinators.
- Gardening demonstrations and seed swaps to promote ethical horticulture.
- Family-friendly lectures and events to promote interest in pollinators.
- Food and drink fundraising events with pollinator themes.
Events and timing will vary by region, and some activities – particularly outdoor ones – may be weather-dependent or require tickets and advance registration. If you are interested in attending a Pollinator Week event near you, be sure to check the website and contact the host location to ensure attendance is still open and available. Bring your family out with you, or invite a friend or two – it’s a fun day out with a healthy impact on your local agriculture and ecosystem.
What Can I Do to Celebrate Pollinator Week?
If you love the bees and animals that keep flowers in bloom and want to celebrate the spirit of Pollinator Week at home, it’s easy. It starts right in your own backyard – literally. One of the most supportive acts you can do to honor pollinators is to give them free and plentiful access to the very thing that gives them their name: pollen!
Step 1: Determine which local plants and flowers support pollinators in your area. Not all plants are well-suited for this task, regardless of what their packaging may say. In some cases, “flower seed mixes” are cut with cheap, invasive species that could have a negative impact on your local ecosystem. Check with local nature groups and organization to see which plants are a good fit for your local area, as well as the sun/shade ratio where you’d like to plant.
Step 2: Support pollinators with shelter and places to rest. Make a “bee waterer” by placing marbles in a shallow bowl and filling it with water just to the edge of the marble tops. This gives bees and other pollinators a place to stop and rest as they drink some water. (Just make sure to change the water every day to ensure egg-laying mosquitos don’t take advantage of your generosity and pollute the water.)
Step 3: Commit to using fertilizers and lawn products that are formulated not to hurt bees. Some neonicotinoid-based fertilizers are used both directly and on plants for sale, and cause nervous system disruptions in bees. Chemicals like these can decimate hives and poison food chains over time – stick to organic fertilizers and natural alternatives like compost and mulch instead.
Step 4: Study up and spread the word about pollinators. Many people don’t realize how important animals and beneficial insects are to the agricultural food supply – the “one in three bites of food” dependency isn’t hyperbole. Talk with friends and family about their own efforts to support pollination, make local flower “seed bombs” as a family activity, and encourage any young children in the home to learn more about the hard work pollinators do.
Step 5: Finally, if insect or animal pollinators are in an inconvenient place – a hive under your eaves, for example, or animal pollinators like bats in your attic – pledge to use humane removal methods only. Experts from local organizations can be contacted for bee hive removal in order to relocate the colony to preserve bee health, and bats can be captured live and released away from your home.
The Circle Of Life: Giving Thanks For Pollinators
Pollinators are all around us, and an indelible part of an abundant food supply – pollination and its contributors should be celebrated not only during their special week, but throughout the year. By committing to learning more about these fascinating, hard-working insects and animals that help pollinate the world around us, you’ll learn where you fit into their continued survival.
- Source: American Friends of Tel Aviv University. “First evidence of farming in the Mideast 23,000 years ago: Evidence of earliest small-scale agricultural cultivation.” Science Daily.com, July 22, 2015, https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/07/150722144709.htm. Accessed May 30, 2019.
- “Pollinator Week.” Pollinator.org, (no publish date), https://www.pollinator.org/pollinator-week. Accessed May 30, 2019.
- Ingram, Leah. “7 Best Plants To Attract Bees: National Pollinator Week.” Parade.com, June 19, 2017, https://parade.com/580242/leahingram/7-best-plants-to-attract-bees-national-pollinator-week/. Accessed May 30, 2019.