Celebrating Pollinator Week Throughout the Year
For Pollinator Week, we checked in with Desi Crouther, a FRESHFARM farmer who works closely with bees — one of the many pollinating creatures that play a vital role in our food system. Find Desi, Owner/Operator of Magnolia Farm & Apiary (Round Hill, VA) at the Reston market.
June 20 – 26, 2022 is Pollinator Week — an annual event celebrated internationally. Most pollinators (about 200,000 species) are beneficial insects. Commonly known pollinators include honey bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, bats, wasps, and moths. Pollinator Week raises the awareness of pollinator importance and health. Additionally, it provides an opportunity to become better informed about what we can do to protect pollinators throughout the year.
Pollinators contribute to ecosystem health and a sustainable food supply. Worldwide, approximately 1,000 plants grown for food, beverages, fibers, spices, and medicines need to be pollinated in order to produce the resources on which we depend. An estimated one-third of all foods and beverages are delivered by pollinators. In the US, pollination by honey bees and other insects produces nearly $20 billion worth of products annually. Foods produced with the help of pollinators include apples, oranges, strawberries, blueberries, chocolate, melons, peaches, tomatoes, and pumpkins. The California almond industry requires approximately 1.8 million colonies of honey bees to adequately pollinate nearly one million acres of almond orchards.
Magnolia Farm & Apiary is based near Round Hill, Virginia, in the Blue Ridge Mountains Region of western Loudoun County. The Blue Ridge Mountains are home to over 130 species of trees, 1,600 plant species, and serve as the honey and pollen sources for our bees. On our farm, hay is also a primary crop and serves as a nutrition source for cattle. Honey bees pollinate about 400 agricultural plants including clover and alfalfa which are food sources for cattle. Thus, there are pollination-related implications for the meat and dairy industries.
We can all play an important role in ensuring the long-term sustainability of pollinators. Actions we can take include:
- Planting pollinator-friendly plants native to our area. Plant specialists at our local garden centers are a great resource for identifying native plants.
- When possible, planting and maintaining gardens (and lawns) without the use of pesticides that harm pollinators – especially, neonicotinoid pesticides – by using non-toxic alternatives.
- Supporting local farmers by purchasing their products.
- Educating others such as our neighbors, school kids, and community groups about the importance of pollinators.
- Hosting a dinner or cook-off featuring recipes and foods created with the help of pollinators. This activity will increase the awareness of pollinators, and our guests will enjoy tasty treats.
As we reflect on Pollinator Week, let’s celebrate pollinators, take action, and spread the word about what we and others can do to protect them.