Anyone interested in the buzz about bees and pollinators is invited to a series of free, virtual workshops in November and December. The workshops are offered through Project Wingspan and the Pollinator Partnership with the goal of increasing the success of native habitat restoration and management. The workshops will feature professional land managers and conservation scientists from the Midwest and Great Lakes region on a variety of topics:
• Nov. 3 from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m., Native pollinator ecology and biology and other grassland species of concern.
• Nov. 10 from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m., Building scientific understanding to guide native pollinator habitat restoration practices.
• Nov. 17 from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m., Restoration project planning and site preparation.
• Dec. 1 from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m., Project implementation.
• Dec. 8 from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m., Habitat management and monitoring.
Participants can register for one or multiple virtual workshops at pollinator.org/wingspan/habitat-training-workshops. (Please note that the times shown on the website are for the Central Time Zone.)
Many of our local pollinators are small; however, their impact is enormous. Beetles, flies, bees, wasps, ants, butterflies, moths, and hummingbirds all have an important part to play. When we support pollinators, we are supporting our own needs. It is estimated that 90 percent of the flowering plants and one third of human food crops need animal pollinators. Visits from pollinators result in larger, more flavorful fruits and higher crop yields. Other ecosystem services provided by pollinators are pest, pathogen, and weed control as well as decomposition. Any vegetable gardener can attest to the value of pollinators in producing a delicious cucumber and in parasitizing a destructive tomato hornworm. Adequate pollination is required to ensure plant diversity and in turn, the plants provide oxygen, control erosion, clean our air, assist with stormwater control, and beautify our surroundings.
To illustrate the importance of pollinators, fruits such as blueberries, apples, cherries, peaches, and raspberries would suffer a 40 to 90% loss in yields without adequate pollination. Cocoa beans, melons, pumpkins, and watermelons would have yield reductions greater than 90%, while coffee beans would experience a 10 to 40% loss in yield. I know my quality of life would be seriously diminished without chocolate and coffee!
You can find publications to help you help pollinators on our website at soilandwater.co.delaware.oh.us. Other resources include the Pollinator Partnership at pollinators.org and Ohio State University Extension at Ohioline.osu.edu. An extensive list of pollinator friendly plants can be found at ohionativeplantmonth.org.
There is still time to drop off your milkweed pods at our office (557 A Sunbury Road in Delaware) as part of the Ohio Pollinator Habitat Initiative (www.ophi.info). The collection bin is outside so you can drop off pods anytime that is convenient for you. This annual collection began in 2015 to enhance habitat for all pollinators, especially the monarch butterfly.
Bonnie Dailey is deputy director of the Delaware Soil & Water Conservation District. For information, go to https://soilandwater.co.delaware.oh.us/.