This is National Pollination Week – a week for not only celebration but even more so a welcome reminder to create lifestyle choices and habits that protect our beloved and vital pollinators. Six years ago the U.S. Senate’s unanimous approval and designation of a week in June as “National Pollinator Week” marked a necessary step toward addressing the urgent issue of declining pollinator populations. Pollinator Week has now grown to be an international celebration of the valuable ecosystem services provided by bees, birds, butterflies, bats and beetles. The growing concern for pollinators is a sign of progress, but it is vital that we continue to maximize our collective effort. The U.S. Secretary of Agriculture signs the proclamation every year.
This year I began growing zucchini in my small garden. I have learned to appreciate the vast talents and gifts of our pollinators much more as I met the challenge to discover simultaneously open male and female blooms to pollinate them. While many assume this job will be done effectively by various pollinators, it is certainly no longer true. Honey bees are one of the most common pollinators of zucchini and since I notice a dreadful decline in the honeybee population in my yard, I indeed need to give them a hand. Next season I will plant two zucchini plants to make my job a little easier as I have found it a great challenge to find both the male and female blooms open at the same time. Early each morning I walk out to my zucchini plant with my fine bristled paint brush in hand and do the task that until this year I left to our beloved bees and friends. It is quite easy to identify the male plant and it is always full with rich pollen – a few gentle strokes of the brush and my brush is loaded with pollen for the female bloom. Each morning during my “pollination ritual” I am again reminded of how very much we need and fail to appreciate all our pollinators. Their job is vital and brings each of us the many assorted fruits and vegetables we often take for granted. This year, my appreciation of their highly intelligent skills has been enlarged dramatically.
My hope is that each of us will continue to grow in developing new habits that turn into lifestyles – pesticide free gardens that support the health and population of our pollinators – which simultaneously supports the health and well-being of each of us. There are many organizations doing excellent work to help educate the public as well as fund research programs concerning our pollinators – especially the honey bee. If you have not already read it, I highly recommend reading Michael Schacker’s A Spring Without Bees – it is an excellent and well researched book examining the plight of the honeybee as well as how political and economic decisions have effected our response. The pollination partnership is also an excellent resource. If you have not already done so, visit the NEWS page on the Alleman Studios website for information on how we are celebrating National Pollination Week this year.
So – happy gardening and my heart-felt gratitude to the entire realm of our beloved pollinators!