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University of Minnesota Extension

Who are the pollinators?

Pollinators like native bees, moths and butterflies, birds, bats and other animals are hard at work providing vital but often unnoticed services. In order to set seed and reproduce, many plant species rely on animal pollinators to move pollen from flower to flower.

There are thousands of insect pollinator species in Minnesota, including over 400 species of native bees. Bees are the most efficient pollinators because their bodies are designed to collect and store pollen to feed to their young. Other flower visiting insects and hummingbirds incidentally move pollen among flowers as they forage.

The plants they pollinate provide food and habitat for other animals, buffer waterways, and store carbon. Foods and beverages produced with the help of pollinators include: apples, blueberries, chocolate, coffee, melons, peaches, potatoes, pumpkins, vanilla, almonds and tequila. In the United States, pollination by honey bees, native bees, and other insects produces $40 billion worth of products annually.

Pollinators are challenged

Minnesota’s pollinators face challenges on many fronts, including habitat loss, pesticides, climate change, diseases and parasites. Some native species, like the rusty patched bumble bee (Bombus affinis) and Dakota skipper (Hesperia dacotae), have experienced drastic declines in population and distribution. Several Minnesota insect pollinator species have been listed as threatened, endangered or species of concern, but for many others we lack data on population trends.

Catch a webinar in May

During the month of May, in conjunction with the City of Alexandria’s “No Mow May” resolution, Extension will host free webinars and Facebook live events about pollinators, native plants, bee Lawns and lawn care. Join Extension educator Robin Trott to learn more about steps you can take to support pollinators and build habitat in your lawns and gardens.

All webinars air from noon to 1 p.m.

  • Thursday, May 11: Video Watch Party “Flowering Bee Lawns: Creating Habitat to Protect and Conserve Pollinators,” James Wolfin, Twin Cities Seed Company
  • Friday, May 19: “All About Pollinators,” Elise Bernstein, Environmental Educator & Pollinator Enthusiast, UMN Bee Squad
  • Tuesday, May 23: “Discover the Beauty and Uses of Native Plants,” Mary Holm, Associate Producer and Host Prairie Yard and Garden | Pioneer PBS
  • Tuesday, May 30: “Designing with Native Plants: Pollinator Friendly Gardening," Jillian Reiner, Landscape Architect and Extension Master Gardener
  • Thursday, June 1: “Lawn Care and Maintenance,” Randy Nelson, Extension Educator, Home Hort & Ag Production Systems Clay County

Please register for these sessions. You will receive an email with the zoom link once you have registered. Each webinar will be recorded to watch at your convenience if you cannot attend live.

Author: Robin Trott, Extension educator, Douglas County

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