Pollination is critical to life on the planet — for healthy ecosystems and biodiversity and for agriculture and our food supply.

Pollination takes place in many ways; wind and insects are the two biggies. All grains, grasses and many trees are pollinated by wind. Insects pollinate the majority of all other plants — fruits, vegetables, oilseeds, herbs, wild flowers and shrubs. Pollinating insects include bees, butterflies, flies, and wasps.

Eighty percent of all wild, flowering plant species would not exist without pollination! We humans depend on pollinators. About one-third of our diet comes directly or indirectly from insect-pollinated plants. “Managed and wild pollinators contribute $992 million to the Ontario economy annually” (from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs).

Bees are by far the most important pollinators. There are about 400 wild bee species in Eastern Ontario — 400! (part of a global family of 20,000 species). The two most common groups of wild bees are solitary bees and social ground nesters.

Wild bee populations are under stress. The major causes of stress are habitat loss, exposure to pesticides, climate change and weather. Habitat loss includes elimination of weeds from road allowances, fencerows, and hydro lines.

How can we make our “own backyards” wild bee friendly? The Lanark County Stewardship Council website has lots of detailed information on how we can help; here are just a few highlights:

  • Plant native: Being “native,” native plants are well adapted to flourish and are preferred by wild pollinators.
  • Plant an all-season buffet: Plant so that something is blooming spring, summer and fall
  • Bare is good: Many of our wild pollinators are ground-nesters and patches of bare ground invite them to nest and breed.
  • Provide bee-shelters: Rotting vegetation and stumps are great shelters for bees and you can make your own…

Check out our website at http://www.lanarkstewardshipcouncil.ca for much more on bees and how you can get Hands-on and personal in conserving these creatures. Thanks to the Lanark Era for their support. For more information, please contact Gord Harrison at info@lanarkstewardshipcouncil.ca