The importance of protecting pollinators

The importance of protecting pollinators

We have bees and other pollinators to thank for the fresh food on our table. Here's what you can do to help slow and prevent declining pollinator populations.

Think back to summer and imagine the perfect picnic or backyard barbecue. Perhaps there would be steak and veggie kabobs on the grill—and maybe some tortilla chips with salsa and guacamole. Don’t forget lots of juicy watermelon and blackberry pie for dessert, topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, of course. At this idyllic outdoor meal, the weather would be picture-perfect, and there would be no buzzing bees or other pesky insects in sight—because you could probably do without them, right?

Well, be careful what you wish for. Because without bees, this perfect picnic meal would be reduced to just meat chunks and plain pie crust. That’s right: no veggies, no tomatoes for the salsa, no avocados for the guac, no berries for your pie, and no vanilla for the ice cream! About 75 percent of the world’s food crops and 90 percent of wild plants depend on pollinators for survival—and some, if not all, of the pollinators are in big trouble.

What’s happening to the bees?

Nature’s pollinators—mostly honeybees, but also bumblebees, native bee species, hummingbirds, bats, butterflies, moths, beetles and more—transfer pollen from one plant to another. This facilitates fertilization, which leads to abundant seed and fruit production. Without these industrious pollinators, the plants would not survive and we would have less fresh food for our tables, as well as fewer plants yielding spices, clothing fibers and essential medicinal ingredients and herbal remedies. Pollination also produces seeds and fruits that birds and other wildlife live on.

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