Bees are in trouble. Master arborist Kevin Marks with the Davey Tree Expert Company says many factors contribute to the decline of the tiny buzzing insect that pollinates our food — loss of habitat, parasites, pesticides, to name a few.
And that’s why this is National Pollinator Week.
“Pollinators are what allow us to eat the foods we eat on a daily basis,” says Marks.
Bees, butterflies, moths, even hummingbirds and some beetles, are pollinators. According to the USDA these creatures help pollinate 75 percent of fruit, nuts and vegetables grown in the United States.
National Pollinator Week is a chance to raise awareness about their shrinking habitat, which according to Marks, is a big reason for decline in bee and other insect populations.
To address the issue, Colorado has designated what’s called a pollinator highway. It’s a stretch of open land along Interstate 76 in the eastern plains where the state encourages people to plant native wildflowers.
“It’s just a matter of seeding along the highway,” Marks says. “That will create an avenue for pollinators to migrate and move back and forth. It’s a great use of open space that’s just sitting out there doing nothing.”
But people don’t have to visit the highway to plant.
“The greatest thing we can do on an individual basis is get out there and plant some different things,” Marks says. “And the more people that recognize what’s going on, that’s going to help them educate their friends and their neighbors.”
Varieties of honeysuckles, sun daisies, sage and skullcap are some of the plants suitable for Colorado's climate. Marks suggests checking out Colorado State University Plant Select database to find more.
And he says spending some time in the garden is a great way to celebrate National Pollinator Week.