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University of Minnesota Extension

All about pollinators

Source: Natalie Neumann, Extension intern

Did you know that next week is pollinator week? June 19-25 is National Pollinator Week in support of pollinator health. In 2017, unanimous approval by the Senate established this week acknowledging the declining population of pollinators. Why are pollinator numbers decreasing? Follow along to learn more about pollinators and why they are important for our communities.

One of the most common pollinators is the bee. There are currently 500 species of bees found in Minnesota that help maintain the ecosystem. Like bees, flies and other insects can pollinate too. A pollinator is anything that carries pollen from one plant to another. Bees' purpose is to be a pollinator while other insects like flies are accidental pollinators. This means that mutualism, the relationship between the plant and the insect, occurs from the insects just visiting the plants and not actually pollinating. 

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, “One out of every three bites of our food, including fruits, vegetables, chocolate, coffee, nuts, and spices, is created with the help of pollinators.” Besides helping our food supply they also help 80% of plants reproduce

Bee with pollen.
The orange dot in this photo is the pollen on the honey bee. Photo credit: University of Minnesota Bee Lab

There are many parts to successful pollination. From plant to plant many pollinators partake in zoophily, the act of pollination. The pollinator will land on the stamen, the male part of the plant and extract the pollen from there. Next, the pollinator will travel to another plant or flower and land on the stigma, the female part of the plant. After landing, the pollen will be mixed and fertilized to produce a flower or seeds later on. The process of pollination takes place every day from early spring to late fall. The pollinators, like bees, visit hundreds of plants every day, and fertilization from the pollen takes 24 hours to begin the pollination process. 

Pollination chart, 1) pollen sticks to body and collect nectar, 2)pollinator carries pollen to another flower, 3)pollen deposited on stigma
Photo credit: ScienceFacts.net


In association with National Pollinator Week, the Wright County Extension is hosting a Pollinator Day with the Wright County Parks Department. On June 22, join the Extension Educators for a day all about pollinators. 


Emily Hansen, Extension Educator, Horticulture, Wright,  McLeod, and Meeker Counties
hans6005@umn.edu or 612-394-6302

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