It all started 12 years ago when a week in June was designated as National Pollinator Week by a unanimous approval issued by the U.S. Senate. This approval marked the necessity for the word about pollinators to be spread and the need for their protection in order to protect the planet and humanity.
The population of pollinators has a negative trend and National Pollinator Week reminds people to take a step forward in regards to this urgent ecological issue. This year National Pollinator Week takes place June 17-23.
In order for this particular event to be officially proclaimed in every state, sending in-state requests by concerned citizens were required. The hard work paid off and for the first time in 2017, every state in the U.S declared Pollinator Week.
Basic Info on Pollination
The crucial stage in the ongoing life cycle of flowering plants is pollination. Fertilization of the plants is achieved by moving the pollen within a flower and between flowers. This is what the pollinators actually do and doing so maintain a productive and healthy ecosystem.
The majority of pollinators are insects. These beneficial creatures include bees, wasps, butterflies, flies, moths, beetles and even ants. There are approximately 200.000 insect species recognizable for their pollination abilities, of them 20.000 are bees. On the other hand, about 1.000 species of vertebrates also have a key role in the process of pollination (bats, small mammals, birds).
All of these species of animals and insects are crucial for fertilization of almost 75% of all flowering plants on the planet. 35 % of the global crop production with a value of more than $550 annually is pollination-dependent. Furthermore, the agricultural system provides employment for millions of people around the world. These creatures help humanity have enough food, including many important fruits, vegetables, and grains; coffee, pumpkins, berries, chocolate, blueberries, almonds, peaches, apples, peppers, strawberries to name some.
The relationship between plants and pollinators is interdependent. This means that the plants need the pollinators in order to reproduce and pollinators need plants in order to feed. If one of them disappears, the other will also disappear soon enough.
Pollinator population decline
The global decline of pollinator population began at the end of the previous century and still continues today. The main factors inducing population decline are the excessive use of pesticides, diseases, and pests, industrialization and air pollution, climate changes, destruction of habitat. Moreover, bee population is affected by the agricultural practice of monoculture and the introduction of invasive species.
The threat of extinction for vertebrate pollinators lies under greater research in comparison to insects. It’s considered that around 16% of bats and birds are threatened with extinction and 9% of insects, generally bees and butterflies.
Aggressive agricultural practices are one of the main reasons. The monocultures are getting more and more popular as businesses occupy fields with wildflower diversity on which the pollinators mostly feed. These crops are also treated with lots of pesticides for increased production and many times they are invaded with parasites and microorganisms, all having a toxic effect on pollinators.
Climate changes (planet warming) move the seasonal time of flowering as well as the territories of plants that are a source of feeding for the pollinators. Mostly affected by the effects of climate changes in the U.S. and Europe are bumblebees.
Things to do During National Pollinator Week
- This week belongs to nature. It’s a good idea to experience some unexplored landscapes planted with flowers where the ecosystem works at its best. Take a walk with your family and friends and enjoy the smells, the sites, and beauty!
- Educate your children about the benefits of pollinators and especially bees. They need to learn to be careful with them and mostly observe when they are working their magic.
- Bees can sting and do sting, especially females. But did you know that most bee species aren’t capable of stinging? Even those bees that can do it won’t, unless they are seriously threatened or injured. It’s time to share this information with your family and friends!
- It’s time to turn your ‘normal’ garden into ‘pollinator-friendly garden. This means that you need to plant a vast variety of plants and keep a continuous flowering succession, from spring through fall. Always choose plants that are native to your region.
- Reduce the usage of pesticides in your garden and choose the ones that are least toxic to pollinators. Whenever you must use pesticides use them at night when most of the animals and insects are inactive.
- Build a wooden condo for bees and homes for birds and bats and decorate your garden with them.
- Cook something with ingredients dependent of pollination.
- Read a lot of articles and information on the importance of pollination, the biology of pollinators and share the facts with your close ones.
What Happens if All Bees Disappear?
Well, the most obvious thing is that all honey will be forever gone, but that’s probably the least worrying thing that can happen. With the absence of bees, 90% of the world’s food supplies will soon be gone. Except for grains, vegetables, and fruits, dairy products from cows, sheep, and goats will become hard to come by and the beef products will reach enormous prices.
So what will we actually eat in such a scenario? Chicken and pork are a good guess, in combination with tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, bread, and rice. But with such a shortage of all other ingredients, it’s a headache to think how huge the prices for the available food will become.
The global economy will collapse, there will be a serious food shortage in a world with almost 10 billion inhabitants, the people will start experiencing malnutrition and this leads to global chaos, uncertainty, and wars. Scared yet?