Observe Pollinator Week with habitat conservation

The week of June 18-24 marks the sixth annual Pollinator Week.  The purpose of this observance is to bring attention to this often over-looked part of the food web and agriculture and promote habitat preservation.

Beginning in 2006, honey bee numbers started a serious decline due to what is now known as Colony Collapse Disorder. While much is yet to be understood about CCD, it is thought to be the result of stresses from pesticides, disease, habitat loss and a poor diet stemming from crop monocultures.

Honey bees are important as pollinators in commercial crops and their plight has garnered much attention. Our native bees, however, have been on the decline for decades without much notice. These bees, such as our native bumble bees, are important pollinators of crops such as blueberries.

“Depending on the bee species, they will live their whole life cycle within 500 feet to one mile from their nest,” District Conservationist Shannon Carpenter said.

“This Pollinator Week, take note of the importance of these little helpers and what you can do help them,” said Bill Fitzgerald, NRCS soil conservation technician.

Here are some suggestions for gardeners:

•Use a wide variety of plants that bloom from early spring into late fall. Help pollinators find and use them by planting in clumps, rather than single plants. Include plants native to your region. Also, night-blooming flowers will support moths and bats.

•Avoid modern hybrid flowers, especially those with “doubled” flowers. Often, plant breeders have unwittingly left the pollen, nectar and fragrance out of these blossoms while creating the “perfect” blooms for us.

•Reduce or eliminate pesticides whenever possible. If you must use a pesticide, use the least-toxic material possible. Before purchasing, read labels carefully, because many pesticides are especially dangerous for bees. Spray at night when bees and other pollinators are not active.

For the full story, see the Thursday, June 21 print edition of the Times.