Who are Pollinators?
Pollinators are organisms that help in the pollination process by transferring pollen from one plant to another. Pollinators reach those plants for nesting, shelter, and in search of food such as nectar and pollen. In the process of doing so, they unknowingly transfer pollen from one place to another supporting a large number of other species in the environment. Most commonly found pollinators in Canada include bees, flies, moths, butterflies, wasps, some beetles, and many bird species, especially hummingbirds.
Why are they important?
Pollen transfer is significant in flowering plant reproduction and for the production of fruits and vegetables. It has been found that almost 80% of all flowering plants and over three-quarters of the staple crop plants that feed humankind rely on pollinators. Hence, pollinators play a critical role in maintaining a sustainable and healthy environment for many species.
Why should we help them?
Despite their importance, pollinators in the world are threatened and declining due to habitat loss, diseases, parasites, environmental pollution, and climate change. And most of such threats are human-induced. This places pollinator conservation as a top priority.
When discussing the conservation of pollinators, similar to other animals, their primary requirements revolve around food and shelter. Pollinators utilize food and habitat wherever it is available, be it on roadsides, in a schoolyard garden, or even in a planter on a windowsill. Hence, supporting pollinators is easy with just a few simple measures.
Some tips to help pollinators in your garden:
1. Careful consideration of what plants you plant in your garden
By planting native plants, you make an excellent choice for supporting pollinators. Native plants are abundant in nectar and pollen, require minimal maintenance, and are not a threat to local species. They are also generally pest-resistant, drought-tolerant, and effective in controlling erosion. Moreover, these plants serve as valuable sources of food and shelter for wildlife while adding natural beauty to the environment.
Create a continuous food supply for pollinators by selecting plants that bloom throughout each of the three blooming periods: spring, summer, and fall. Pay particular attention to flowers that bloom in early spring and late summer, as these are crucial for bees during their emergence from and preparation for winter hibernation. For a more significant impact, plant these species in groupings or clumps.
2. Prevent or limit the use of pesticides.
Chemicals present as residue on the petals or within the nectar and pollen pose significant risks to pollinators. They can lead to direct mortality or result in various sublethal effects, including hindering their navigation abilities and affecting their reproduction. Hence, careful application of pesticides is important to maintain a viable population of pollinators. Whenever possible, take proactive measures to prevent pest problems from arising. You can accomplish this by burying plant residues that are infested, removing pest habitats, and choosing to plant native species that naturally attract pests' natural enemies.
3. Incorporating a diverse range of plants.
By selecting flowers with varying sizes, shapes, and colours, along with plants of different heights and growth habits, you can attract a broader array of pollinators with varying needs. This can be achieved by mixing native plant species, heirloom plants, and herbs in your garden. Some common herbs like rosemary, basil, basil, oregano and borage make excellent bee-friendly plants. Additionally, consider letting some fruits and vegetables go to flower by allowing them to bolt, providing extra food sources for bees and other pollinators.
4. And finally make sure you share your knowledge with others and promote awareness.
Educate others about the significance of pollinators and share your experiences of creating a pollinator-friendly environment at home for bees, butterflies, birds, and other animals.
Take a look at some of the many varieties of pollinator plants at Dallington Pollinator Garden
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