Please Protect our Pollinators!

Mindy Habecker, Dane County Extension Natural Resources Educator, talking about pollinators

Mindy Habecker, Dane County Extension Natural Resources Educator, talking about pollinators

Mindy Habecker, Dane County Extension Natural Resources Educator presented at today’s UW Extension meeting.

The Dane County Environmental Council is charged with guiding the implementation of the report recommendations produced by the Dane County Pollinator Protection Task Force. The goals are: 1. Expand education and outreach efforts 2. Maximize pollinator-friendly land use and management.

You can see the progress the Dane County Pollinator Protection Task Force at their 2018 Progress Report (link).

Why should we work to protect our pollinators?

A pollinator is any animal that visits flowering plants and transfers pollen from flower to flower, aiding plant reproduction. Wisconsin pollinators include bees, butterflies, moths, flower flies, beetles, wasps, and hummingbirds. Bees purposefully collect pollen as a protein source for their offspring, making them the most efficient pollinators. There are approximately 20,000 bee species in the world, 3,600 in the United States and over 400 in Wisconsin. All forty-seven species of North American bumble bees nest in colonies, as do some smaller bees, but over 90% of all bee species are solitary (do not live in colonies). The overwhelming majority of all bees are wild (not managed by humans).

In Wisconsin, pollinator-dependent crops account for over $55 million in annual production. These crops include apples, cranberries, cherries, green beans, pickling cucumbers and fresh market fruits and vegetables. Honey and beeswax contribute an additional $3.5 million . High rates of annual honey bee colony loss are of concern in the United States and Europe. During the 2014- 15 winter season, Wisconsin was among the U.S. states suffering an annual honey bee colony loss greater than 60%.

You can learn more through their handout, also available in Spanish, and hard copies be requested for your library, visitor center, city center, etc.

What can you do to help pollinators?

  • Reduce pesticide use, especially to flowering plants and shrubs or to areas where pollinators may be nesting.

  • Cultivate or plant flowering trees, shrubs, and herbaceous flowering plants that bloom throughout the growing season from early spring until late fall, especially native species.

  • Choose a variety of flower colors. Bees are most attracted to blue, white, yellow, and purple flowers. Butterflies like white, pink, purple, red, yellow, and orange. Beetles are attracted to white and green flowers. Moths like white flowers that bloom at night.