We love bees. But we also love butterflies, humming birds, and moths. What do they have in common? They are all pollinators. Think about it, do you love pizza? Or maybe your jam is strawberry jam on your waffles? Both the tomato sauce on your pizza and the jam is made of fruit. And to make fruit, you need pollinators.
According to the Xerces Society, "85% of the world's flowering plants" rely on our buzzing friends and their cohorts. Much of terrestrial life (on land) relies on fruits for their diet - including birds, bears, bunnies, and humans. So we aren't exaggerating when we say that saving the bees is literally saving the planet!
We sat down with Matthew Shepard, the director of communications for The Xerces Society to ask him questions about pollinators.
What is a pollinator?
A pollinator is an animal that moves pollen grains within or between flowers. This is important because plants can only produce seed or fruit after they are fertilized by pollen—and nearly 90% of flowering plants need a pollinator to move the pollen. For the plants, this means another generation of plants. For us, this means many things from fruit and vegetables to orange juice and coffee to cotton fabric for clothes.
Pollinators are a diverse group of animals, that in North America range from bats, doves, and hummingbirds to tiny flies. The great majority of pollinators are insects, mostly beetles, flies, butterflies, moths, wasps, and—the most important group—bees.
Why save the bees?
They are at the heart of a healthy environment, enabling the reproduction of plants, supporting complex food webs that feed birds and mammals, and providing up to one third of the food and drink that we consume.
There are roughly 3,600 species of bees in the US and Canada, ranging in size from bumble bees to yellow-faced bees almost too small to see. The honey bee isn’t native to the Americas, having been brought by settlers, but is often the only bee people think of. There are also leafcutter bees, mining bees, mason bees, yellow-faced bees, polyester bees, bumble bees, alkali bees, and many many more.
Source - Info-Graphics
How can we save the planet through pollinator conservation?
Like all wildlife, pollinators are suffering from loss of habitat, climate change, and pesticide use. But unlike some wildlife (bears, elk, eagles, salmon…) they live all around us and we can all do things that will directly benefit them. Bees don’t need a lot of space, so planting flowers in your garden or local park really can make a difference. There is evidence that when there are more flowers, there are more bees, so you will have an impact.
Matthew Shepard is the Director Of Communications with The Xerces Society
If you would like to support saving the bees, check out our yellow toothbrush. We proudly support the mission of The Xerces Society.