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What’s the Buzz?

John Monzingo
Special to the MInden Press-Herald

For the past several years, we have been hearing about the decline in honey bee population in the United States. I started thinking, “Why this is so important?  What difference does it make?” For those that know me, know I cannot simply ask a question or think of a question and then just let it be. I have to know the answer. Over the past several days I have been trying to do just that. 

Before I could answer the question, I had to understand a few things about plant reproduction. The first and most important is, how most plants reproduce. The answer is simple really, pollination. That leads me to “what is pollination?” Pollination is the act of transferring pollen grains from the male anther of a flower to the female stigma of a flower. Successful pollination results in seeds and fruits and a plant is formed.

That leads yet to another question for me, “what moves or how does the pollen move?” And once again simple answer, pollinators. Pollen can move by many means. The first way we all see in the spring time when the wind blows we see that yellow dust blowing everywhere. There are other ways pollen moves from plant to plant. When humans walk through a field of grass or through wildflowers we have just become pollinators. The more common means we think of are by, bees of all kinds, bats, spiders, hummingbirds and even wasp. Honey bees are the most efficient and effective pollinators.

Now that I had a general understanding of what pollinators are and how pollination works, I could answer my original question, “why is it so important to have pollinators?” The U.S Forest Service estimates almost 80% of all plants require some sort of pollinators. There are approximately 150 different food crops that require pollinators to pollinate. 

Now you may be asking yourself, “what can I do to protect pollinators?” Start by limiting chemical usage to early morning or late afternoon when pollinators are not active. Read chemical labels to know the toxicity of chemicals toward bees and other pollinators. Another way to protect pollinators is by planting and creating pollinator habitats. Planting native wildflowers, honeysuckle, strawberries and different varieties of clover can help provide habitat for pollinators as well as planting dogwood, magnolias, crape myrtles, and other flowering trees to your pollinator habitat. 

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at 318-927-3110. 

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