Most of us are aware that without honeybees we would not have honey or beeswax. BUT DID YOU KNOW.....?
Bees in particular also assist in the process known as pollinatiion. Pollination is the process of development for a flower's seeds. Flower seeds must be fertilized by pollen from the same or another flower in order to be reproduce. Pollen can then be dispersed through the wind or transferred from the bodies of insects such as bees. Some insects are naturally drawn to the flowers thrugh scent, color and the sweetness of their nectar. As they tranverse the surface of these flowers, their bodies will unknowingly pickup the pollen and be ready for transprot to a new location.
The act of pollination is actually more important to the living and working world than is the production of honey or beeswax! So imagine now a world where pollination is Not Possible!!!
The recent concern about declining pollinator populations serve as a reminder that we are but a strand in the web; We depend on the rest of the web. Of the World's crop species, 2/3 require pollinators, and in the U.S. alone, more than 100 species or $20 billion of crops require insect pollination.
Insects such as butterflies, moths, bees, wasps, beetles, and flies, mammals such as bats, and the wind all serve as pollinators. Of the insects, bees are the most important group. In North America alone, 4000 species of native bees exist. Most of the native bees, unlike their introduced relative, The Honey Bee, carry out a solitary existence. Most species create nests in the ground, but some use dead trees while bumble bees search for cavities such as rodent holes. Bees forage for nectar and pollen.
Native bee populatins are in decline as their habitat shrinks and as pesticide use has increased over the years. Dr. Suess offered the sage advice "Unless someone like you cares a whole awful Lot, nothing is going to get better."
As ranchers, farmers, and resource managers, thee are some ways to lend a hand to native pollinators.
Provide Foraging Habitat: Bees need flowers for nectar and pollen.. A wide variety of plants that bloom from spring to fall provide sustenance during the entire growing period. Many native bees are best adapted to gathering pollen from native plants and natives are most likely to flourish in an area's soils, climate, and day length.
Protct Nesting areas: Ground nesting bees need bare patches in well-drained soil; too much thatch accumulation or any tillage ofthe soil can be deterimental to their reproductive success. Wood nexting species need snags while bumble bees benefit from bunchy native grasses under which they can build a nest in the summer and the queen may over winter ulnder the thatch.
Proper grazing Management: The plants and animals on North America's prairies have long been influenced by herbivores; grazing animals area a strand in the web. Still today, grazing animals may positively impact floral resources. Attention to timing, duration, and intensity of grazing is a must in order to use the animals to maximize nectar and pollen production.
Fire: Fire is a paradox for pollinator habitat. It has positive landscape maintenance effects. Removes thatch to provide are ground for ground nesting bees, and burns completed during the winter months may stimulate wildflower blooms the following year. However, it can have detrimental effects because of the immediate habitat destruction.. Low intensity burns that leave small unburned patches or leaving an adjacent area of habitat unburned can be a refuge from which the bees may recolonize.
Learn: As long as plants, animals, and for that matter even people do Not have an identity, they ae of little concern to us. However, once we see their uniqueness, we can begin to learn and observe and appreciate all of them.
Just think about this: What ever man does to the web, he does to HIMSELF!! If one bite of food out of every three or four depends on animal pollinators, would not their lives become much more personal and important to Us??
Tina M. Haun,