Pollination happens when a pollen grain moves from the antha (male part) of a flower to the stigma (female part). This starts a process that produces seeds, fruits, and the next generation of plants.
Who are the pollinators?
Sometimes flowers are able to pollinate on their own, or the wind and water move pollen. The rest of the time we rely on bees, butterflies, birds, bats, moths, flies, beetles, wasps, and small mammals for pollination. They move pollen from spot to spot when they visit flowers to drink nectar or feed off the pollen.
Why are pollinators important?
One out of every three bites of food you take is there because of pollinators. Between 75 and 95 percent of earth's flowering plants need help with pollination. Over 180,000 different plant species and at least 1200 crops rely on pollinators for reproduction. Not only do pollinators provide food for us, but they support healthy ecosystems by cleaning the air, stabilizing soils, and supporting wildlife.
What's happening to pollinators?
Many pollinator populations are declining, likely because they are losing critical feeding and nesting habitats. Pollution, chemicals, disease, and climate pattern changes contribute to shifting and shrinking pollinator populations.
How can you help pollinators?
Plant for pollinators
Pollinator plants provide great sources of nectar and pollen. Use these guidelines to help create an inviting habitat for local pollinators.
Use local native plants.
Choose several colors of flowers, like blue, violet, white, and yellow.
Know your soil type and use appropriate plants.
Plant in clusters to create a "target" for pollinators to easily find.
Plant in areas that aren't exposed to much wind and have at least partial sun.
Plan for continuous blooms from spring to fall.
Create a water source for your pollinators if one isn't naturally available.
Leave material from dead branches and logs for pollinators to use as nesting sites.
Reduce mulch to allow some patches of bare ground for ground-nesting bees.
Avoid using pesticides
Not only are pesticides bad for our water when they run off our lawns and end up in our local waterways, but they're also bad for pollinators. Pesticides can't tell the difference between good insects vs. bad ones. Some other countries have even banned the use of certain insecticides because they have been shown to negatively affect the healthy of honey bees. Visit the Grow Smart Grow Safe website to learn safer methods for controlling pests.
You can also find tips for a maintaining a healthy, low-maintenance, chemical-free yard at our regional Natural Yard Care website.
Get help finding the right pollinator plants for your yard
The BeeSmart Pollinator Gardener app helps you select plants for pollinators specific to your area. Customize your plant list by geographical area, pollinator type, bloom color, soil type, sun exposure, and plant type.