Pollination happens when wind, water, or wildlife carry pollen from the anther (male part) to the stigma (female part) of flowers. Almost 90% of the world's flowering plant species rely on animal pollinators.
Pollinators help us to enjoy well-balanced diets and healthy ecosystems. They provide nutritious fruits, vegetables, and nuts like blueberries, squash, and almonds. This food is important for wildlife, too. Black bears, for example, eat raspberries that are pollinated by bumble bees.
Pollinators also create stable environments. They pollinate plants that stabilize the soil and prevent erosion. These plants can buffer waterways, store carbon, and provide habitat for other wildlife. Plus, flowering landscapes are beautiful. Without pollinators, our environment would look very different.
Agents of Pollination...
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The University of Minnesota Bee Lab put together a list of garden plants for bees. There's also a pollination blogand bookfrom local photographer/landscaper Heather Holm. The Xerces Society has a websiteand bookabout attracting native pollinators. Finally, it's OK to ask the staff at your local nursery to help you find plants that are not treated with neonicotinoid pesticides. Pollinators may become sick or die if they visit plants treated with "neonics".
The Minnesota DNR is currently adding pollinator information to the plant lists in our Native Plant Community Field Guides. A draft booklet, Pollinator Resource Values for Upland & Wetland Prairies is available from MNDNR.
The Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources maintains a list of funding opportunities for pollinator habitat here.
Neonicotinoids are systemic pesticides that are present in the leaves, pollen, and nectar of treated plants. Pollinators might become sick or die if they visit plants treated with "neonics." The Xerces Society published a reportabout the effects of neonics on bees. The American Bird Conservancy published a reportabout their effects on birds. Researchers published a paper about neonicotinoids in Canadian wetlands. Friends of the Earth released a reportin 2013 that found neonicotinoid-treated plants for sale at garden centers in Minnesota. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture is currently completing a review of neonicotinoids. The criteria and process of the review are detailed in this agency report.
Please contact Crystal Boyd (651-259-5699), a bee specialist with the DNR's Minnesota Biological Survey, if you would like to apply for a volunteer position. There are also many citizen science opportunities, such as:
Upload your photo to BugGuide.netfor quick insect identifications.
Joel Gardner with the University of Minnesota Bee Lab has an pamphletabout native bees and building bee nesting habitat.
The Minnesota DNR is creating Best Management Practices and Habitat Restoration Guidelines for pollinators in response to the Minnesota Legislature’s 2013 Pollinator Habitat Bill (H.F. 976). Pollinator information will also be added to the DNR’s Native Plant Community Field Guides. Additionally, the DNR is partnering with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture to create Best Management Practices for pollinators along roadsides. Finally, Crystal Boyd and Robert Dana with the Minnesota Biological Survey are studying native bees and butterflies/moths, respectively.