Helping our Native Pollinators
What is Pollination?
Pollination is the process where plants receive pollen from other plants of the same species so they can reproduce and form seeds. Many plants are pollinated by animals, and most of the animal pollinators are insects. The relationship between plants and their insect pollinators is beneficial to both the plant and the pollinator. The insect pollinator receives food, usually in the form of nectar, while it spreads pollen from plant to plant aiding the plants reproduction. Pollination is really just a “happy accident” that happens when an insect visits a flower to get food. The insects do not know they are pollinating plants as they are finding food for themselves.
Insects have been pollinating plants for approximately 140 million years, since the dawn of angiosperms (flowering plants). Flowering plants lure pollinators to them with scent, visual cues, and food. Learn more about the process of pollination: The Plant Pollination Process: http://www.buzzaboutbees.net/plant-pollination-process.html
Why We Need Pollinators
More than one-third of our food supply depends on pollinators. Without pollinators there would be no apples, onions, oranges, pumpkins, and many other fruit and vegetables. There would be no coffee, chocolate, nuts, or cotton for our clothes. Without pollinators our world would be a much different place than it is right now.
Produce Section With And Without Bees
List of crop plants pollinated by bees
Why you should be more worried about pollination than a bee sting
Gather flowers from your yard or visit a local flower shop and get flowers to dissect. Cut the flowers in half. Identify the different parts and talk about what they are and how pollination works. Ask children if they have seen bees or butterflies on flowers? Why do they think they were on the flowers?
Create tissue paper flowers. Have children draw pictures of pollinators to glue to their flowers.
Pollination Field Trip
Visit a local apple orchard, garden, or even walk around your schoolyard this spring and observe how many pollinators you can find. Make a chart to keep track of different kinds (bee, butterfly, moth, beetle, etc).
Gardening for Pollinators
Plan and plant a school garden for pollinators. Already have a school garden? Add plants for pollinators or devote a section to pollinators. Even growing a few pollinator-friendly plants in containers can be beneficial!
Blank Park Zoo: Plant. Grow. Fly.
Become part of a new conservation initiative to help protect native pollinators! Whether you have several acres, a small back yard, a schoolyard, or even a business courtyard – you can make a difference! Plant seeds, watch them grow, and help our native pollinators thrive!
Other things you can do to support pollinators:
· Avoid or limit pesticide use at home and never use a neonicotinoid pesticide
· Buy organic produce
· Provide nesting sites, such as bee nesting blocks
Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation – Looking out for Iowa: Native Pollinators
Native Pollinators: The Amazing World of Native Pollinators
Native Bee Conservancy: Saving Our Wild Pollinators
Bee Basics: An Introduction to Our Native Bees
Bug Guide: Native Bees of North America
USDA Forest Service: Gardening for Pollinators
Planting a Pollinator Garden
The Xerces Society: Pollinator Gardens
Garden for Wildlife
White House Gets “First-Ever” Pollinator Garden, Milkweed Planted at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Barth, F. G., and M. A. Biedermann-Thorson. 1991. Insects and Flowers: The Biology of a Partnership. Princeton University Press.
The Xerces Society . 2011. Attracting Native Pollinators: The Xerces Society Guide to Conserving North American Bees and Butterflies and Their Habitat. Storey Books.
Galvin, L.G., and K. Kest. 2000. Bumblebee at Apple Tree Lane. Soundprints.
Heiligman, D., and B. Weissman. 1996. From Caterpillar to Butterfly. HarperCollins Publishers.
Hoff, M. K. 2004. Pollination. The Creative Company.
Lawrence, E. 2012. What Lily Gets from Bee: And Other Pollination Facts. Bearport Publishing Company, Inc.
Schaefer, L. M., and A. Richardson. 2001. Butterflies: Pollinators and Nectar-Sippers. Capstone Press.
Slade, S., and C. Schwartz. 2010. What If There Were No Bees? Capstone Press.
Lauber, P., and J. Wexler. 1986. From Flower to Flower: Animals and Pollination. Random House Children’s Books.