Our Pollinating Pals

by Lesley Parness – lparness@morrisparks.net

In reflecting back on this summer in the garden, I can definitely say that something was missing: Bees! What is more pleasant than dozing off on a mid-summer afternoon to the quiet drone of someone else (human or otherwise) working hard to improve your garden? Statistics confirm what our senses already know – pollinator populations are diminishing. Animal and insect pollinators include bees, moths, flies, bats, birds, ants, butterflies, wasps and beetles. It has been estimated that pollinators are needed for the reproduction of 90% of flowering plants and one third of human food crops. Domestic honey bees pollinate approximately $10 billion worth of crops in the U.S. each year. What can we do? Plenty. This summer, we’ll be hosting several programs on pollinators so here’s some homework to get ready:

Begin at www.pollinator.org – a great site for an introduction to the topic. FYI – NJ is an “Eastern Broadleaf Forest Oceanic Province.”

At the Applewood seed company’s website, http://www.applewoodseed.com/ we learn that “Animal and insect pollinators are essential to pollination in over 75% of the world’s flowering plants, which includes roughly 35 percent of the world’s crops.” See their “Pollinator Conservation” section for good plant selections.

At www.xerces.org tackle the heavy science. The Xerces Society is a nonprofit organization that protects wildlife through the conservation of invertebrates and their habitat. For forty years, the Society has been at the forefront of invertebrate protection worldwide, harnessing the knowledge of scientists and the enthusiasm of citizens to implement conservation programs.

Finally, at www.nwf.org you will gain confidence to create a Certified Wildlife Habitat. Whether you have an apartment balcony or a 20-acre farm, you can create a garden that attracts beautiful wildlife and helps restore habitat in commercial and residential areas. Look for a class all about pollinators in our next issue.