2022 Is the Year of the Pollinator

2022 Is the Year of the Pollinator

By Sherry Preston

I am looking forward to summer. In the evenings I like to relax on my deck with a glass of sun tea, some guacamole and chips or some fresh fruit and admire our garden. Occasionally, I have to shoo an insect here and there, but that's the price of living the good life, right?

Insects like wild bees and other pollinators play a crucial role in nature. They pollinate fruits, veggies, grains, and flowers. All of these are essential to agriculture and wild ecosystems.  Pollinator feeding and nesting habitat is declining. They're also threatened by pesticides.

Some of our favorite foods rely on pollinators, like almonds, apples, avocados, cherries, chocolate, melons, peppers, tea and tomatoes. According to pollinators.org, one of every three bites of food comes to us thanks to a pollinator. Some plants need insects for pollination, while others rely on bats and birds. Many bats and birds feed on insects.

Local crops like corn, beans, wheat, and beets don't rely on insect pollinators. Alfalfa does though, and many of our garden crops rely on insect pollination as well. If we want to continue to eat well, we need pollinators.

This spring Gering Public Library received a grant as part of a nationwide #Plantwildflowers campaign. #Plantwildflowers highlights the critical role bees and other pollinators play in healthy ecosystems. Funding for the grant was generously provided by HHMI Tangled Bank Studio, PBS Nature and the #Plantwildflowers initiative. 

When we think of bees we tend to think of honey bees and bumblebees, but dozens of different bee species make their home in our area. In June we will be screening a movie filmed in England: "My Garden of a Thousand Bees"in the library community room. Later in the summer we are planning a Pollinator Fun Day with the Ever Green House. Follow us on Facebook to stay on top of the pollinator buzz this summer!

Right now you can visit the pollinator display at the library to learn about local pollinators. We have free wildflower seeds you can plant in a corner of your garden or in your alley. We have two bee identification cards to pick up as well. You can also find books for readers of all ages with information about insects and beneficial flowers in our area. If you are interested, we have a more complete list of foods that rely on pollinators available at the pollinator display. 

We don't raise avocados, blueberries or almonds in our area but I am glad pollinators are hard at work in my garden making sure I will have tomatoes, peppers and melons in August. Coffee, wine (grapes) and tequila (agave) also depend on pollinators, so there are other important reasons to protect pollinators! 

Through small actions like planting a section of your yard or a community space with native wildflowers, we can each make a big impact on pollinator habitat.