Do you enjoy a hot cup of coffee, a juicy peach, an-apple-a-day, almonds, rich and creamy dates, a handful of plump cashews, or vine-ripened tomatoes? Do you enjoy seeing the native flowers and plants that surround you?
If so, you depend on pollinators.
Wherever flowering plants flourish, pollinating bees, birds, butterflies, bats and other animals are hard at work, providing vital but often-unnoticed services. About three-fourths of all native plants in the world require pollination by an animal, most often an insect, and most often a native bee. Pollinators are also responsible for one in every three bites of food you take, and increase our nation’s crop values each year by more than 15 billion dollars.
Loss of pollinators threatens agricultural production, the maintenance of natural plant communities, and the important services provided by those ecosystems, such as carbon cycling, flood and erosion control, and recreation. Without pollinators providing the transportation of pollen from flower to flower, about 75 percent of all native North American plants could gradually become extinct as they lose the ability to reproduce.
Since bees are so small and accommodating, we can all do our own part by eliminating non-native weeds and shrubs and encouraging wildflowers to grow on our properties. Adding native flowering plants to even the smallest yard can help. The pollen and nectar from only about 5 flowers supports the food needs of a bee from egg to adulthood.
- USGS Native Bee Inventory and Monitoring Program
- USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab on flickr (public domain images)