Who runs the world?
If you’ve enjoyed an apple or a handful of blueberries recently, or maybe some avocado on toast, thank a bee. Honey bees and other pollinators keep our food system, and therefore we humans, alive. They pollinate some $30 billion in crops in the U.S. each year, including most fruits and leafy greens, and without them our food system would collapse.
Beset by disease, parasitic mites, and widespread applications of pesticides, fungicides, and other agricultural chemicals, bees are struggling to survive. The good news is there are organizations working to protect these and other hardworking insects and animals, and they’re spreading the word on what we can do to help them survive and thrive!
Thirteen years ago, the nonprofit Pollinator Partnership helped initiate Pollinator Week – a “time to celebrate pollinators and spread the word about what you can do to protect them.” It’s celebrated this year from June 22-28, moving online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
For direction on joining the fight to save the bees, consult the list of resources below. You also can enjoy a new documentary, The Pollinators, a New York Times critics’ pick hailed by the newspaper as “meticulous, magnificent … a movie that presents an intelligent vision of nature.”
From the filmmakers:
The Pollinators is a cinematic journey around the United States following migratory beekeepers and their truckloads of honey bees as they pollinate the flowers that become the fruits, nuts and vegetables we all eat. We … talk to farmers, scientist, chefs, economists and academics along the way to give a broad perspective about the threats to honey bees and what it means to our food security.
Facts about pollinators from the Ecological Society of America
- A majority of plants, more than 70 percent, depend on insects, birds, bats, and other animals to transport pollen.
- Pollinators play a significant role in the production of over 150 food crops in the U.S., including apples, almonds, blueberries, cranberries, kiwis, melons, pears, plums, and squash.
- Pollinators are important in the production of an estimated 30 percent of the human diet, plus fibers, edible oils, medicines created from plants, and other important products around the world.
- Close to a third of some 1,500 crop plant species worldwide depend on pollination by bees and other insects.
- Many species of wild pollinators are in decline. Disruptions of localized pollination systems, and declines of certain species of pollinators, have been reported on every continent except Antarctica.
- Habitat loss and fragmentation are two of the greatest threats. Foraging areas and nesting sites of many pollinating organisms are jeopardized when wildlands are converted for such domestic uses as housing, suburban development, agriculture, or pasture.
- For suggested reading on bees and other important pollinators, check our Reading List.
- Get free flower and vegetable seeds, as well as other resources to guide gardeners of all skill levels, from the Seed Library at the Kansas City Public Library’s Irene H. Ruiz Branch.
- Explore and learn all about pollinators at the Pollinator Partnership’s Learning Center.
- Follow the Pollinator Partnership’s blog.
- Deep Roots KC is a local organization helping to educate residents on the importance of planting native plants that help bees thrive.
- Those interested in becoming a backyard beekeeper can consult the Missouri Beekeepers Association or the Northeastern Kansas Beekeepers Association.