It’s tempting to grump about pollen in the springtime (especially when you’re sneezing) but BC farmers know that pollination is vital to agriculture. In fact, somewhere between 75% and 90 % of our world’s flowering plants need pollinators - animals like bees, butterflies, birds and bats - to help them reproduce. As a result, you can thank a pollinator for every third bite of food you eat . This month, we’re highlighting all the great ways that BC farmers support our pollinators, and giving some tips on bee-friendly actions you can take in your own garden!
First, a little science: when pollinators visit a plant to drink nectar, they also help spread pollen from the male part of a flower to the female part. After pollination, the plant can produce fruit, nuts, seeds...and the next generation of plants. Crops like apples, pears, cucumbers, and berries all rely on pollination (largely from managed honey bee colonies) to produce a bountiful harvest.
Pollinators are even responsible for the look of our food. As just one example, if the blueberries you buy from your local grocery store are uniformly sized, you can thank BC’s hard-working honey bees. Without bees pollinating the plant, blueberries will range in size! (You can learn more in our chat with BC’s blueberry growers and honey producers here.)
In addition to fresh food, flowering plants that are pollinated produce half of the world’s oils, fibers and raw materials, and they also prevent soil erosion. So even though pollinators like bees and butterflies might be the little guys of the animal kingdom, they’re a very big deal to BC’s farmers.
How do you make a bee (or a bird, or a bat, or a butterfly) happy? Here are just a few ways that farmers and ranchers in BC contribute to healthy pollinators:
There are 450 species of bees alone in BC - and that’s not counting all of the other pollinating species like wasps, butterflies, bats and birds. Support them all, farmer-style, by creating your own pollinator-friendly habitat in your own yard and garden! Here are some tips:
You can find more tips on gardening for pollinators here, from our friends at Plant Something Bee Friendly BC!
Photo credit: BC Honey Producers Association and BC Landscape & Nursery Association