Press-Republican

Cornell Cooperative Extension

May 19, 2014

Bee-ing good to pollinators is important

We in the North Country have a wide range of ideas about lawns, gardens, trees, and shrubs.

Some of us grow vegetables to can or freeze for our families; others prefer to purchase fresh vegetables from roadside stands or Farmers Markets. There are those with numerous elaborate flower beds and others with a pot of something colorful by the door, or no flowers at all.

When it comes to lawns, some feel that as long as it’s green and kept mowed, it doesn’t matter if it’s weeds or grass. Others take great pride in the appearance of their manicured expanse of thick, healthy, lawn. We all have our priorities and spend our time tending to the aspects of our landscapes that give us the most pleasure or return on our investment. 

The one thing we all have in common, is our need for pollinators. 

If asked to name pollinators, most of us would immediately respond with bees. We may also think of wasps, hummingbirds, bats, butterflies, moths, beetles, wind, and water. But I want to tell you a few things about bees. Bees get pollen (which is rich in protein) and nectar (rich in sugar, a carbohydrate) to feed themselves and their young by visiting flowers. In the process, they move pollen from one flower to another.

It sounds easy enough and bees have been doing it without our help forever, but it’s getting more difficult and we need to lend a hand. Part of the problem, and one that we can do something about, is loss of habitat. As fields and meadows are developed, some of the plants bees depend on are no longer available or not available in the same quantity. This is where the choices we make can make a difference for all bees, not just honey bees, or my personal favorite, the bumble bee.

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Cornell Cooperative Extension