national pollinator week!

Many of you probably don't know or care that it's National Pollinator Week, but pollinators are kind of a big deal. Besides working tirelessly in beautiful gardens everywhere, 1/3 of every bite you eat is totally dependent on a pollinator. The least we can do is celebrate them once a year.

Hummingbirds, beetles, bees, butterflies/moths & Ronald McDonald bats are all important pollinators
Pollination is the transfer of pollen from the anthers of a flower to the stigma of the same flower or of another flower.  Pollination is a prerequisite for fertilization, which allows the flower to develop seeds. (Clearly, pretty important.) Here's some info about Pollinator Week:
"Five years ago the U.S. Senate’s unanimous approval and designation of the final week in June as “National Pollinator Week” marked a necessary step toward addressing the urgent issue of declining pollinator populations.  Pollinator Week has now grown to be an international celebration of the valuable ecosystem services provided by bees, birds, butterflies, bats and beetles. The growing concern for pollinators is a sign of progress, but it is vital that we continue to maximize our collective effort.  The U.S. Secretary of Agriculture signs the proclamation every year."

Surprisingly, many people are still uninformed about the challenges currently facing bats and honey bees, both of whose futures are frighteningly uncertain. In 2006, the first case of White Nose Syndrome was discovered in a bat cave in New York. Since then, the rapidly spreading fungal disease has been associated with the deaths of 5-6.7 million North American bats. Once contracted, the mortality rat of White Nose Syndrome is 95%. It continues to spread without any progress in prevention or treatment. (Besides the important role bats play in pollination, a single brown bat can eat up to 1000 mosquitoes in one hour.)

As for honey bees, Colony Collapse Disorder was first discovered in 2006. Colony Collapse Disorder (or CCD) is a phenomenon in which worker bees from a beehive or colony abruptly disappear. Specialty crops, especially almonds, depend on bee pollination so heavily that the sharp decline in bee populations has begun to affect harvests. No one knows what is causing CCD or how to prevent it, but according to this informative bee blog:
"Current theories being researched include new strains of bacterial or viral infections, pesticide poisoning, or invasive pests. Stress is also thought to contribute to colony collapse, like when bees continuously pollinate crops with low nutritional value. And with fewer bees to go around, entire hives are being trucked farther and farther, placing more stress on those adult worker bees that escape contamination."

Regardless of what's causing CCD, scientists are still working tirelessly to find a way to control the decline.
The remaining types of pollinators aren't safe either. Historically, hummingbirds were killed for their feathers, but today, habitat loss and destruction are a big threat to hummingbirds. Pesticides remain the main threat for beetles and butterflies. It's important to spread awareness about Pollinator Week not just because it's an excuse to have a picnic, but because people need to get involved. There are many simple ways in which to help, (like donating or volunteering) Check out some ideas here and below:
This week, in some small way, celebrate the thousands of teensy-weensy helping hands behind our food and gardens!