By Isabella Bennett
Last month’s pollinator protection week (June 16-22) got my mind buzzing, thinking about popular attitudes toward bees and other pollinators. Sadly, too many people fear, rather than appreciate, our busy little friends. Let me give you an example.
One spring afternoon, my friends and I were sitting outside our campus coffee shop talking about the latest bio exam when a big ol’ bee came buzzing around. When the bee flew just a bit too close to my friend’s nose, she leapt from her chair, grabbed her purse, and began frantically swatting and shrieking. Needless to say, everyone nearby enjoyed the show. I couldn’t stop giggling as I led her back to her seat, allowing the bee to continue on her way. That day, I witnessed one pollinator in particular need of some protection!
My friend and many others fail to realize that many pollinators are pivotal to our environment and our national economy, and they need our protection.
Each year, pollinator week marks a time when we all should spread awareness and educate friends, family, and ourselves about the importance of pollinators – bees, butterflies, beetles, birds, bats, and others. For example, they currently pollinate about one-third of the food we eat. Moreover, they’re accountable for 75% of all flowering plants! Recently, there have been declines in pollinator health because of habitat loss, disease, and pesticides. That’s why now is the time to bring as much awareness to the issue as possible.
There are steps you can take right now to help our pollinators. One of their main challenges is habitat loss; by planting native flowering plants, shrubs, and trees in our backyards, gardens and schools, you can create perfect rest stops and pollen refueling stations. Another step you can take is reducing pesticide use, especially trying integrated pest management. If you do need to use a pesticide, pay particular attention to label directions; they explain how to safely use it and ultimately protect our pollinators and our environment.
Take a moment sometime this week to appreciate what pollinators do for you and consider what you could be doing for them. I know I will.
About the author: Isabella Bennett is Environmental Business major at Texas A&M University. She works as a summer intern in the Communications Services Branch in EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs.