Pollinator Information - King County
This excerpt from an Endangered Species Bulletin article sums up the problem: "Pollinating animals are critically important to the maintenance of virtually all terrestrial ecosystems, yet the population status of most pollinating species often goes unnoticed. Butterflies, moths, bats, birds, bees, beetles, flies, ants, and wasps assist almost all flowering plants in their reproduction, helping them to develop the seeds, foliage, nuts, and fruits that ensure the survival of innumerable wildlife and human populations worldwide. Sadly, many pollinator populations are declining precipitously around the world." This article, by Dr. Kim Winter, also lists examples of guilds of pollinators that are listed under the Endangered Species Act -- birds, bats, butterflies, moths, and beetles.
Honeybees are also in decline. They are suffering from what is being called Colony Collapse Disorder. Do an internet search on the phrase, and you will uncover countless articles and papers. Bumblebees are in decline too. Simply stated: our pollinators are in trouble, and if our pollinators are in trouble, so is our food supply, and so are we.
What can you do to help?
- Replace some of your lawn with flower beds.
- Plant native plant species, which are well-suited for local bee populations.
- Reduce or eliminate pesticides and insecticides in the garden.
- Choose plants that flower at various stages in the growing season to provide a consistent source of food for pollinators.
- Support local beekeepers and farmers by buying local honey and locally produced organic food.
- Provide nesting sites for butterflies, bees, bats and hummingbirds.
- Explore this extensive list of Useful Resources from Pollinator Partnership
- A guide called "Selecting Plants for Pollinators: A Regional Guide for Farmers, Land Managers, and Gardeners In the Cascade Mixed Forest, Coniferous Forest, and Alpine Meadow Province, including the States of Washington and Oregon" (PDF). This guide is Ecoregion-based and has plant information and great info on pollinating animals and ecoregions too.
- Live outside our Lowland Puget Sound Ecoregion? Check the Pollinator Partnership's Ecoregional Planting Guides page to enter your zip code and determine your Ecoregion, then select the planting guide for your Ecoregion.
- A great list of ways you can help, provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Learn how to build a bee box, reduce the use of pesticides, and plant a pollinator garden.
- Several sets of pollinator habitat guidelines that are downloadable from the Xerces Society.
- Join the Pollinator Action Team from this site.
- Showcase the pollinators who bring you food! This PDF handout can help you with ideas.
- Visit North American Pollinator Protection Campaign's web site. Their mission is to encourage the health of resident and migratory pollinating animals in North America. Among other information, they publish Pollinator Friendly Practices (PDF).
- Visit U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's How You Can Help Pollinators page to get more ideas!
- Peruse this list of Natural Resources Conservation Service documents for pollinator conservation and enhancement
- Learn how to build a pollinator garden.
- Download this "Bounty of Bees" poster, print it, and post it for everyone to see.
- Listen to pollinator podcasts to learn more.
- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service developed a week-long podcast series on a variety of pollinator topics in 2008.
- The Pollinator Partnership also developed a series of Honeybee Health Podcasts.
- This particular Yard Talk episode on good bugs & bad bugs discusses native pollinators and how to attract them to your garden.
Want to learn more about the basics of flower pollination, what it is, and even the nutritional components? For a lot of great basic information and articles, visit "A Resource Guide to Flower Pollination."
Threats to Pollinators (and some solutions)
What are the primary threats to pollinators? Not surprisingly, many of the same threats to biodiversity across the board: development, fragmentation, use of pesticides. Development and fragmentation go hand in hand and are hard to slow as human populations move into urban areas. But there are ways to minimize impacts to pollinators and other plants and animals.