Fascinating pollinators

Published 7:34 pm Friday, June 8, 2018

There’s a lot of concern about the lack of honey bees and at the same time people are swatting carpenter bees with tennis rackets and coating the flowers of their summer squash with sevin dust. You can’t have it both ways. 

Honey Bees are just one of the many of a very important class of insects called pollinators. These insects transfer pollen from the stamen to the stigma of a flower so that fertilization can take place and fruit develop.  

Approximately 1,000 plants grown for food, fiber, spices, beverages and medicines rely on pollination. Seventy-five percent of all flowering plants rely on pollination. Imagine a colorless landscape without the splash of colorful flower petals. 

Certain plants rely on one particular pollinator species to pollinate them. If one disappears, so will the other. Without pollinators this would be a world without chocolate, blueberries, peaches, melons, almonds, vanilla and coffee. 

The top ten pollinators in order are Bumble Bees, Honey Bees, Carpenter Bees, Small Bees (Leafcutter, Mason, Mining and Plaster Bees), Syrphid Flies, Long-Legged Flies, House and Flesh Flies, Paper and Potter Wasps, Thread-Waisted Wasp and Bee Flies. 

Other pollinators include butterflies, wasps, moths, hummingbirds, bats and other small mammals. For Honey Bees to produce one pound of honey, they must visit over two million flowers and travel approximately 55,000 miles to do so. There’s a lot of sweat equity in a pound of honey.

How can we help the pollinators? Plant a wide variety of native flowers, shrubs and trees in the landscape to provide nectar and pollen. Try to incorporate a plan where something is flowering throughout the spring, summer and fall. 

Selecting trees and shrubs that attract pollinators from spring through fall can help immensely. Placing plants such as glossy albelia, southern sugar maple, red maple, bottlebrush buckeye, red buckeye, groundsel bush and American beautyberry can increase the nectar flow for pollinators.  Selecting trees and shrubs as resources for pollinators is a great resource available at no cost from UGA publications.

Building bee hotels is another way of increasing the pollinator population. It’s a fun building project for kids and parents. Check out another extension publication, “Creating Pollinator Nesting Boxes to Help Native Bees.”

Why are pollinators in danger? There are many reasons but the main reasons are loss of habitat, disease and pesticides. Reducing or eliminating the use of pesticides is very important. Using the Integrated Pest Management, IPM for short, approach is the best method where pesticides are used as the last resort rather than the first.  

If pesticides are necessary, there are some important considerations to keep in mind. Timing of a pesticide application is very important in protecting pollinators. 

The best time to spray is after the sun has set. Bees and other pollinators are active in the early morning through the late afternoon. Use pesticides that are short lived and break down quickly. 

Avoid dusts or wettable powders, which are similar in size to pollen grains. Use granulars, solutions and soluble powders. Keep the pesticides away from flower blooms. Read and follow all label directions.

We need to help save our pollinators because they help us. Thirty percent of all our food that we eat is available because of all the hard work of bees, butterflies, ants, beetles wasps, moths, hummingbirds and all the other pollinators. 

What’s going on in Extension? 

  • 4-H Camp sign up: Junior Camp, Cloverleaf Camp, Wilderness Camp and Marine Resources Camp. For more information, call the office at (706) 883-1675
  • Summer 4-H program sign up is now. Call Melanie Dabb at (706) 883-1675 or email meld15@uga.edu for more details.
  • June 18: Beekeepers Meeting, 7 p.m. at the Ag Center 
  • June 19: Troup County Cattleman’s, Philip Brown will speak on grazing management. Dinner is at 7 p.m. The cost is $6. Call ahead. The program begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Ag Center.
  • Market on Main: Every Saturday from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. at the Movie Theatre parking lot. The freshest produce in Troup County.

If you have any questions or concerns, stop by or call the office. 

The Troup County Extension office is located at 144 Sam Walker Drive in LaGrange. (706) 883-1675. It is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to noon and from 1 p.m. to 5 pm.