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The World Needs Birds, Butterflies, and Bees

Mary Gadek, Dakota County Master Gardener

Swoosh, swish, and buzz! With the start of summer, children look in awe at the birds, butterflies, bees, and other pollinators bustling around outside. Investigate with your young gardeners to understand why pollinators are important to our gardens and explore ways to interact with pollinators by reading this article.

The World Needs Birds, Butterflies, and Bees

What Are Pollinators?


Pollinators are creatures who help gardens, parks, farmlands and other landscapes bring us food, resources, and beauty to our world.  They carry pollen from one plant to another to fertilize (or feed) plants to allow them to make fruit or seeds. Bees are the most well-known pollinators but other varieties include ants, flies, beetles, and birds.


Why Are Pollinators Important?


Pollinators are important to our world because they:


  1. Help feed the world: Pollinators are necessary for bringing us food and other resources. They are responsible for about one of every three bites of food we eat and are important in producing nutrient-dense foods, like fruits and nuts.

  2. Aid the growth of plants: 80% of plants rely upon pollinators to reproduce and continue to grow. We need plants to flourish in the world to feed our animals, to stabilize (or hold together) soil, and to filter water to keep it clean.


  1. Give and maintain the diversity of plants: A successful plant landscape requires plant diversity (or variety) to survive. By pollinating many types of plants, pollinators keep our gardens and farmlands growing strong and beautiful. When plant diversity exists, the failure of one plant in our garden is not devastating because we still have others to use. Also, our gardens and farms can continue to grow for many years and provide beauty to the world. 


How Can You Help Keep Pollinators in Our World


  1. Plant an assortment of flowers that have pollen and nectar.  https://beelab.umn.edu/plant-flowers

  2. Eliminate or limit the use of pesticides that are dangerous to pollinators. 

https://beelab.umn.edu/pesticide-free-plants



To further investigate pollinators with your children, here are some activities:


DO


*Plant in your garden: https://beelab.umn.edu/plant-flowers


*National Park Service activity booklet for pollinators: https://www.nps.gov/sagu/learn/kidsyouth/upload/pollinator-activity-booklet.pdf


*Make a bee bath https://www.hammerandaheadband.com/bee-bath-diy/ 


READ

A colorful and informative book for pre-readers and above illustrates why we need bees in our world. Available for purchase: “Give Bees a Chance.”

check out the book at the Dakota County Library: ISBN: 9780670016945


References

https://beelab.umn.edu/pesticide-free-plants 


Photo Credit: Mary Gadek (1,2,3)

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