What are pollinators?
Pollinators play an essential role in the life cycle of almost 90% of our earth’s plant species. Whether it is a hovering hummingbird, lumbering beetle, or one of over 350 Minnesota bees visiting a flower in our own backyard, these animals and many others contribute to a process called pollination.
Pollination occurs when the pollen from one plant reaches the stigma of another, usually when carried there by a pollinator. This initiates the formation of seeds, fruits, and nuts that will later be disbursed.
Examples of animals that are pollinators are bees, flies, beetles, butterflies, moths, birds, and bats. Bees have proven to be some of the most effective pollinators, and as a result are the focus of many pollination efforts.
Why the concern?
Recent years have seen a dramatic decline in pollinator species.
Many foods consumed by humans and wildlife rely on pollinators. Without pollinators there is no seed formation, which means future generations of plants and the creatures that rely on them are at risk of decline.
Pesticides, pests and pathogens, loss of habitat, and lack of available nutrition are part of an unfortunately long list of factors which have led to depressed immune systems, a decrease in genetic diversity, and ultimately the decline of pollinator populations.
Maplewood’s Pollinator Resolution
The City of Maplewood has adopted practices to make our city a place where pollinators can thrive. In January 2016, City Council passed a pollinator resolution. This commits the City to developing even stronger policies and practices to help protect pollinators.
Maplewood provides habitat for pollinators through preservation of acres of natural vegetation and through enhancement of natural habitats. City staff rarely uses insecticides in maintaining parks and natural areas.
Monitoring of pollinator species is also conducted; Maplewood Nature Center has been tagging monarchs for over 20 years as part of a public program and is now partnering with the Xerces Society to monitor bees in our Fish Creek Pollinator Program. Educational programming is helping to create a community which understands and appreciates the importance of pollinators.
Fish Creek Pollinator Program
Funding for this project is provided by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources.
Maplewood Nature Center and partners Great River Greening and Xerces Society have received a grant for pollinator habitat enhancement and education and monitoring at the City’s Fish Creek site.
The Fish Creek Pollinator program will fulfill four key components:
-Habitat Enhancement: Volunteers work with Maplewood Nature Center and Great River Greening to plant plugs at the Fish Creek Preservation site, increasing the diversity of native plants.
-K-12 Education: Maplewood Nature Center conducts pollinator education with 800 local students, teaching our youth about pollinators and involving children in the planting process.
-Adult Education: Workshops for adults focusing on bee monitoring and pollinator-plant interactions are led by the Nature Center and Xerces Society, using a bee identification and monitoring guide developed specifically for our region.
-Citizen Monitoring: Citizen bee monitoring events are conducted by the Xerces Society and Maplewood Nature Center at the Fish Creek site.
What you can do
-Plant a Variety of Flowering Plants: Greater plant diversity means greater pollinator diversity
-Eliminate or Minimize Pesticide Use: Research suggests a strong link between colony collapse disorder and a group of insecticides known as neonicotinoids.
-Provide Native Habitat: Planting native plants not only gives the best possible nutrition to pollinators, but also helps preserve a part of Minnesota’s natural history.
-Be a Bee-Keeper: Keeping bees is a fun and educational hobby!
-Participate in Citizen Science: Submit sightings of bumble bees to bumblebeewatch.org and participate in other projects. (See Resources below)
-Get Friends and Family Involved: Planting a garden, participating in monitoring projects, or simply visiting a natural area are great ways to spend time with loved ones while making a difference for the future generations of all living things.
-Use Social Media for Education: Share your experiences online and follow some of the many groups doing great things for pollinators.
-Learn and Explore: Baba Dioum said it best, “In the end we will conserve only what we love. We love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught.”
Pollinator Lesson Plan
June 2016 Season's Pollinator Issue
Maplewood's Pollinator Resolution
University of Minnesota Bee Lab
Department of Natural Resources
The Xerces Society
Humming for Bees
Submit Bumble Bee Sightings:
Elaine Evans Surveys
The Great Sunflower Project (site is temporarily down due to maintenance)
Bee-Keeping: Beekeeping Classes
Native Plant Nurseries
Pollinators of Native Plants
MN Dept. of Ag Best Practices for Pollinators
The Beauty of Pollination