June 17-23 is National Pollinator Week, when honeybees, bumblebees, butterflies, hummingbirds, bats, wasps, ants, moths and some small mammals are celebrated for providing us with fruits, nuts and vegetables.
Pollinators make the delicious possible. They provide us with oranges, apples, blueberries, almonds, apricots, blackberries, cherries, cranberries, melons, plums, pumpkins and alfalfa, to name a few. Much of the pollination of the U.S. food supply comes from managed pollinators: beekeepers. Sixty percent of beekeepers in the U.S. provide pollination services to American agriculture. It takes one to three hives per acre to pollinate apples.
Beekeepers are an integral part of the farming community, providing pollination services that contribute to the $200 billion agricultural industry. One third of all of the food we eat needs to be pollinated.
However, 5.5 million bee colonies have been lost in the last six years, causing a $1.1 billion loss to the beekeeping industry. A recent EPA/USDA report on bee health did not find one factor contributing to the decline of honeybees, but a myriad of factors.
During National Pollinator Week, all of us need to understand the value of pollinators to our food supply. Homeowners are encouraged to learn about garden plantings to help pollinators at pollinatorpartnership.org. To learn about protecting bees and other pollinators go to xerces.org or pollinatordefense.org.
As you enjoy blueberries on your cereal, broccoli in your pasta salad or a delicious slice of warm apple pie . . . thank a bee, thank a pollinator.
(Colopy is program director of the National Pollinator Defense Fund.)