Pollinators Support Biodiversity

Biodiversity is the variety of life.  It showcases the relationships between all life forms on Earth.  It is the web of life, connecting all life on Earth in an interdependent web of function, purpose, and necessity.   It can be a protective mechanism against catastrophic failure of life.

Rockies Audubon Habitat Hero Garden

Biodiversity provides:

A wide array of foods and materials, which contributes to the survival of all.  Examples include: medicines derived from plants; 7000 species of plants are also food sources for other species.

Genetic diversity, which defends against diseases and pests.

Example:  Monoculture crops are not diverse, genetically or otherwise,  and are thus             susceptible to influxes of pests and disease, which is one reason why farmers of these crops are so dependent on chemicals to sustain crops. Planting hedgerows with a variety of plants encourages natural pest control for crops via predatory insects and birds.

Ecological services, which are functions performed by many species that result in sustaining life on Earth, and are a supported by biodiversity. Within each ecological service there are many species at play.

Some examples of ecological services are:

Decomposition of waste

       Water purification

       Pest control

       Flood moderation

       Soil fertility

       Pollination

Adaptability to disturbances, which is achieved by a concerted effort of many life forms repairing the damage done by a natural disaster, or another form of disturbance.

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Every piece of every ecosystem is important and each piece depends on the other pieces. We, as humans, are part of a planet-wide ecosystem, and we depend on many different systems for our survival.  One extremely important web we depend on is that of the pollinators.

Pollination supports biodiversity!  It is a mutually beneficial relationship between the pollinator and the pollinated. One without the other would be catastrophic. Pollination supports diversity of plants, as well as the animals that feed on those plants.  This beneficial relationship reaches broadly to birds, small mammals, large mammals, other insects, and us!  If this relationship were lost, many ecosystems would implode.

Pollinators contribute to biodiversity and life on Earth in ways that are significant to every ecosystem existing today.  Roughly 90 % of all flowering plant species are specialized for animal-assisted pollination!  7000 plant species are a form of food for other species.  Many of these flowering plants develop food only as a result of visiting pollinators, and this food supports the lives of countless species, including humans!  The disappearance of pollinators would inflict catastrophic consequences on the entire planet.

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The diversity of pollinators alone is staggering!  There are 20,000 bee species accounted for on Earth, and there are likely more. This number does not account for the hundreds of thousands of species of flies, moths, butterflies, birds, bats, and beetles who also pollinate flowering plants.

Our pollinators are struggling due to habitat loss.  The US alone hosts 40 million acres of turf, which useless to supporting biodiversity (The Humane Gardener). Some populations of butterflies have declined as much as 90%!  Honeybee colony losses are at an all time high!  What do you think that means for our native bee species?  I can tell you it isn’t good.  The struggle is due to: loss of habitat, lack of food, and pesticide use.  

The fact that pollinators are broadly struggling threatens the balance of biodiversity, and life on Earth!  

You can help by doing the following: add back habitat (shelter, food, and water), plant flowering plants, STOP the use of all pesticides (including: insecticides, fungicides, and herbicides), and teach future generations how to coexist.

 

My Backyard is Host to Many

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I have compiled a collection of pictures I captured today of all the pollinators feeding in my backyard. What entertainment! And, I don’t know if you knew we were hit with a massive hail storm at the beginning of June, and my yard says hail smail! It has bounced back quite nicely!

Our Own Pollinator Scavenger Hunt

We visited the Denver Botanic Gardens on York street today, and in honor of National Pollinator Week, created our own scavenger hunt for the pollinators in the gardens.  So, here are some lovely pictures of some of the pollinators we came upon in our visit! Enjoy!

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A Colorado Spring

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Could a girl ask for any more color or variety of life? It’s such a beautiful time of the year and so many things are waking up, including pollinators!

Don’t forget to plant more flowers this year, and make sure they are a different variety than what you already have. This will attract even more pollinators to your yard!  So far, I have seen Andrena (mining bees), bumble bees of two varieties, mason bees, and evidence of leafcutter bees, hummingbirds, wasps, hover flies, beetles, and of course honeybees.  

I nearly killed the biggest wasp I’ve ever seen when I went to put my flip flops on and there it was! It was nestled on the toe strap, and it didn’t even move when I nearly crushed it.  As it turns out she is a Bald Faced Hornet. She had just emerged from her hibernating phase. These wasps will lay eggs and develop a eusocial operation as bumble bees do, and mated queens will hibernate and wake the following spring to repeat the cycle.  They can be aggressive if you are near their nest, obviously, so observe with respect.

I was so lucky to have seen her! She is just beautiful! Check out this video! 

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Garden fresh eats thanks to bees!

Today was a fantastic day to go out and harvest some goodies from my small backyard garden. It is October!!

This year was one of the best years spent in my backyard, because I was keyed into the various bees paying daily visits to my gardens. I have lots of flowers, for the sake of flowers, and a veggie garden, for the sake of good eats!! My husband and I worked together to build the small plot and I started many of my plants inside from seed. I had very high hopes of getting lots of great food from my backyard!

The biggest challenge was carving out enough sunshine for the plants to flower, and once we achieved that, we have been enjoying the delicious splendor of garden fresh tomatoes while we wait for others to develop into edible fruits from flowers!  Kale has been my best grower all season, and I love kale, so kudos for us! Now tomatillos are finally getting big enough to harvest, and they make the best addition to fresh salsa!

Throughout the spring and summer I spent many mornings in my backyard observing bees come and go from flower to flower.  I had bumblebees (of at least two species), leafcutter bees, sweat bees, honey bees, carpenter bees (both big and small), mining bees, wool carder bees, mason bees, and many other pollinators coming to my plethora of floral food.

Four years ago we didn’t have this kind of entertainment in my yard; it was very quiet and green with rocks as the highlight, boring!  We worked every spring to plant more flowering plants, and soon we experienced butterflies, bees, hummingbirds, and this beautiful blooming rainbow!  If you plant the forage they need for survival, they will come, and if you provide shelter, they will stay.  My garden would not be giving us the produce it has without the bees very diligently feeding on every flower. We need bees for the tastiest fresh foods to come into fruition (no pun intended).  I encourage you to make a plan to plant more organic flowers in your yard next spring, and then set up a place for solitary bees to take shelter.  

I also strongly recommend planting a veggie garden for you to enjoy and reap the benefits of becoming a good host to bees!

Here’s a short list of flowering plants suitable to grow in Las Vegas and other drought stricken locations!

Lantana

Desert bird of paradise

Bottlebrush

Orange trumpet vine

California poppies

Milkweed (Monarchs need lots of these flowers for survival, and we can help by planting more. Click here and get instructions specific to Las Vegas, NV)

Yarrow

Blanket flowers

Black eyed susans

Hyssop

Bee Balm

Hollyhocks

Chicks and hens

Thank you for joining the movement to help our pollinating friends!!

Wonders of a garden could keep my attention all day long.

What’s in your yard? Have you taken the time to observe? I could spend all day outside in my garden just looking and listening.  It brings me a sense of peace and child-like wonder when I am surrounded by nature.  Please make an effort to do this for yourself; we could all use more nature in our lives!

Thank you for joining the movement!