For 1 Out of 3 Bites You Eat, Thank Your Local Bee

Yes, that’s right. Out of every three bites of food you eat, one of those bites was dependent on a pollinator. It’s a symbiotic relationship that projects onto our plates. So yes, we and our locally grown foods are dependent on pollinators. And so are our ecosystems. 85% of the world’s flowering plants depend on pollinators for reproduction. Out of all the pollinators, native bees are the primary pollinators for wildflowers and crops in the United States. Though the domesticated non-native European honey bee is often used to pollinate many crops (and makes delicious honey), the 4000+ species of native bees in our country are very well adapted to pollinating crops and native flowers. They are so well adapted to our local conditions that native bees are more effective pollinators than the European honey bee, that is, when the native bees’ habitats are recognized and protected. But our native bees, like the European honey bee, are experiencing serious declines. For example, the yellow-banded bumble bee was the most abundant Wisconsin bumble bee as early as the mid-1990’s, but just ten years later this species accounted for only 1% of Wisconsin bumble bees. Out in Oregon, the Franklin’s bumble bee has gone extinct in the same amount of time.

If you’d like to learn more and see what you can do for the pollinators in our community, there are a couple “Bring Back the Pollinators” workshops in the area.

Earth Day April 20 at Maywood Environmental Park from 7- 8:30pm. May 18 through Plymouth Community Education and Recreation from 6:30-8pm, and May 30 at the Ice Age Center in Dundee at 7pm.

For more information contact Carrie Caselton Lowe at carriecaseltonlowe@gmail.com or the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation at www.xerces.org.