Celebrate National Pollinator Week this June 20 - 28, 2021!

This official recognition hatched in 2006 with Resolution 580 by the 109th Congress declaring Pollinator Week on September 21, 2006. Senate Resolution 580 stated: A resolution recognizing the importance of pollinators to ecosystem health and agriculture in the United States and the value of partnership efforts to increase awareness about pollinators and support for protecting and sustaining pollinators by designating June 24 through June 30, 2007, as "National Pollinator Week"

Conservation and Education

Bat hanging upside down in tree eating berries

The Pollinator Partnership (P2) is a non-profit organization whose mission is “to promote the health of pollinators, critical to food and ecosystems, through conservation, education, and research.” Working with numerous local, state, and federal agencies and other organizations, P2 focuses on pollinator initiatives such as the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign, National Pollinator Week, U.S. Bee Buffer Project, Monarch Wings Across America, and the BeeSmart™ Gardener App.

The value of pollinators in the garden is well known. Bees and butterflies and beetles are well represented amongst as they fly from plant to plant collecting nectar and getting dusted with pollen to be transferred to another flower. The plants vie for these services with sweet rewards, brilliant colors, flower structure designed like an aircraft carrier to land these winged wonders.

Consider the variation in form and function between a common white daisy and a lupine. Whereas the daisy must appear as a huge landing pad for insects, the lupine is more restrictive and requires the insect, generally a bee, to perch upon one of the flower’s lower petals like a bull rider at a rodeo. Whereas, the daisy’s inner circle of disk-shaped flowers offers nectar and pollen rewards as the insect walks across its face, the bee’s weight upon the pea’s keel-shaped petal springs open the flower and allows the bee to access the inner rewards.

So how important are pollinators? An estimated 75 percent all of flowering plants require pollination services from insects, birds, and bats. The others use the wind to carry pollen between plants or have self-pollinating techniques which don’t require insects to transfer pollen (like tomatoes and peas). Always the farmers friend, pollinators fertilize about 75 percent of the crops grown for food and that translates into one of every three bites of food is connected to a pollinator. Billions of dollars are generated through agriculture every year and the key link to this success is the continued conservation of pollinators. While backyard beehives can be fun and rewarding for some, if this seems like too much consider erecting a bat house to get some nutrient rich guano. Butterfly houses and hummingbird feeders also provide a place for our flying friends to rest and eat on their long journeys.

During National Pollinator Week, many organizations have come up with activities, games, and information to learn about the importance of pollinators for children and adults. Activity guides and games help students learn about their local pollinators in a fun manner. For adults, there are podcasts and videos which narrate creating backyard habitats for pollinators, the importance of bees in agricultural circles, and how to co-exist with insects. There are webcasts to visit monarch butterfly areas or to explore the mystery of monarch migration. Teachers, community clubs, gardeners, farmers, government staff, and others can do their part to promote protection for wild pollinators.

The website also provides educational materials written by and for religious organizations to highlight the importance of pollinators with direct from passages from the Bible or Koran. Stewardship of the earth is the ultimate honoring of these divine creations.

Because of the current COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s activities will be a little different to maintain the health and safety of everyone. One fun activity will be the special lighting of buildings and bridges to highlight the significance of pollinators. Salem, Oregon will light the Union Street Railroad Bridge yellow and orange to celebrate this week and the City of Oklahoma City will light up the Skydance Pedestrian Bridge in yellow and orange, as well. In Edmonton, Alberta the High Level Bridge will be lit up and in North Vancouver, British Columbia residents should check out the special decorations at the David Suzuki Foundation Butterflyway Project.

What to Do As a Home Gardener

Diagram of process a Bee uses to Pollinate a plant's anatomy

Home gardeners can enjoy viewing or creating pollinator habitat through the simple planting of a diversity of pollinator-friendly plants and avoiding or limiting the use of pesticides in the garden. Where pesticides are used, timing is critical and the chemicals should be applied late in the day or early morning before pollinators are active. Or to perhaps seek out an alternative pest management strategy that doesn’t involve pesticides.

The Pollinator Partnership’s website is full of information and activities that will take place during this year’s National Pollinator Week. Webinars and podcasts are great ways to learn about pollinators while staying safe during the pandemic. The organization encourages pollinator enthusiasts to also get outside and enjoy viewing pollinators in a safe and responsible manner. Socially distancing with your fellow gardeners is strongly recommended, but getting a close-up view of pollinators is also highly advised. Share your pollinator discoveries on social media and help generate more “buzz” about the plight of these amazing creatures.

Visit P2s website for more information, activities, and lighting ceremonies involving pollinators.