We are a pollen nation: Thank you, pollinators, the most important farm workers

I’ve been getting reminders to sign up for my share of the bounty my local Community Supported Agriculture group will bring to the ‘hood this summer. As I was drooling over the deliciousness that will make its way to my kitchen, I started thinking of some of the hardest-working members of the farm-to-table movement: pollinators.

Honeybee

 Image credit: Weedy Wildflower Patch by Bob Peterson, on Flickr. CC BY 2.0.

What is pollination anyway?

Simply put, pollination is the process of moving male flower reproductive parts to female flower reproductive parts. For many plants, it requires the intervention of an animal or insect matchmaker–a pollinator–to make the move for the flowers. If the pollinator is successful, a baby seed or fruit will result. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 80% of our food crops require pollination in order to produce the food we eat. So, pollination is kind of a big deal.

Who are the MVPs in pollination?

Probably the most well-known brand ambassador for pollination is the humble honeybee. It’s true bees are responsible for a large portion of our agricultural pollination needs, but did you know other insects (such as wasps, ants, moths and butterflies), birds and bats hold a position on Team Pollination?

Pollinators are at risk. How can you help them thrive? 

Much has been reported about the threats modern farming methods and changes to habitat pose to our pollinators. As people much smarter than me work toward finding solutions to these problems, here are some things you can do to help your local pollinators thrive:

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