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Pollinators are responsible for 1 out of every 3 bites of food we take! Pollination is important for plant reproduction and food production.

The following examples are “fruit” of the plant, even if we might call them produce, vegetables or nuts: apples, cucumbers, zucchini, almonds, and strawberries. All of those foods grow on the plant as the result of the pollination of the flowers. Even though cucumbers and zucchini are categorized as vegetables in the cookbook, botanically, they are the “fruit” of the plant because they have the seeds. They rely on a pollinator to transfer pollen from one flower to another.

Other plants that rely on pollinators include: apricots, avocados, bananas, beans, beets, blackberries, blueberries, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, cherries, coconut, cranberries, eggplant, figs, grapes, grapefruit, kiwi, lemons, limes, mangos, melons, okra, onions, oranges, papaya, peach, pear, peppers, plums, pumpkin, raspberries, squash, tangerines, tomatoes, and turnips. In addition to herbs, spices, sesame seeds, sugar cane, sunflower oil, and vanilla, other favorites that rely on pollinators include coffee and chocolate.

The Pollinator Partnership’s mission is to promote the health of pollinators, critical to food and ecosystems, through conservation, education, and research. One way they do this is to promote Pollinator Week, June 21-27, 2021, #PollinatorWeek.

This week I plan to:

  1. Learn about bees and other pollinators. More than honeybees! While honeybees might be a favorite because they pollinate and provide honey, there are over 4,000 types of bees in the United States. In Ohio, there around 500 bee species. More than bees!  While bees need our support, they are not the only insect that pollinates. In Ohio, pollinators are primarily insects such as bees, butterflies, moths, beetles, wasps, and others. In addition, hummingbirds are pollinators. Certain bats are also pollinators, especially in tropical and desert areas, but none act as pollinators in Ohio.
  2. Invite pollinators of all stages to my yard. In addition to food, pollinators also need water and shelter. There are great resources on the different types of plants to help feed pollinators at different life stages. One example is to grow plants like milkweed, fennel, and dill to feed caterpillars, which eventually grow into monarch and swallowtail butterflies. Offer water in a shallow bowl or birdbath for any small pollinators.  Place a few larger rocks or sticks in the small container to provide a place for insects to land and perch.    
  3. Help others overcome their fear of “bugs”.  Not everyone loves insects, even though these small pollinators offer so much! Pollinators will not hurt you if you leave them alone. We need them to do their jobs to help us have delicious foods! PBS has a nice lesson for parents to help children overcome their fear of bugs.
  4. Appreciate my summer meals. I will slow down to appreciate and enjoy all the food that is on my plate, thanks to the work of pollinators.

How will you celebrate National Pollinator Week?

Written by: Patrice Powers-Barker, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Lucas County

Reviewed by: Dr. Roseanne E. Scammahorn, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Darke County

Sources:

Bee Lab. (n.d.) Ohio State University. https://u.osu.edu/beelab/

Ellsworth, D. (2015)., Attracting pollinators to the garden. Ohio State University. https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/ENT-47

McGinnis, E., Walton, N,. Elsner, E., and Knodel, J. (2018). Smart Gardening: Pollination in vegetable gardens and backyard fruit. Michigan State University Extension. https://www.canr.msu.edu/resources/smart-gardening-pollination-in-vegetable-gardens-and-backyard-fruit

Nankin, F., and McMahon, J. (2017). Overcome a fear of bugs. Public Broadcasting Service. https://www.pbs.org/parents/thrive/helping-children-overcome-a-fear-of-bugs

Planting for Pollinators. (2020). Kids Gardening. https://kidsgardening.org/planting-for-pollinators/

Pollinator Partnership. (2021). Pollinator Week. https://www.pollinator.org/pollinator-week/pollinator-week-resources

Prajzner, S., and Gardiner, M. (2015). Ohio Bee Identification Guide. Ohio State University. https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/ENT-57

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