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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?

For such an important topic, we're guessing most people don't think a lot about pollination. Fortunately, groups such as the Pollinator Partnership have spent a lot of time thinking about it, and they have created or assembled a great deal of valuable information. Rather than repeat it all here, we encourage you to take a look at their web pages. Here is a list to get you started:

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."

Annual National Pollinator Week

Annual National Pollinator Week 2012 was June 18-24.
  • Pollinator Partnership's 2012 page contains ideas and more information.
  • Thinking about ways to help bring awareness to your friends, family, classmates, and colleagues. Sponsor a photo or art contest? Organize a native plant sale?
  • Download this "Bounty of Bees" poster, print it, and post it for everyone to see.
  • In Celebration of National Pollinator Week 2008, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service developed a week-long podcast series on a variety of pollinator topics.
  • 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.

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.