An Ode to Our Pollinators!

Conservation // August 16, 2022

It’s National Honeybee Day this Saturday! But did you know that there are over 400 species of bees in Pennsylvania alone that play an important role in pollinating the majority of crops? Even beyond bees, other species such as beetles, flies, butterflies, hummingbirds, moths, bats, and parasitic wasps also contribute to pollinating our flowering plants. Each of these animals participate in an invaluable process that directly impacts our livelihoods and the livelihoods of our animal friends. Through pollination, or the transfer of pollen, a plant’s reproduction through production of fruit and viable seed is ensured thus providing food to eat and ultimately, fostering a diverse ecosystem. 

Here in the Wissahickon, FOW piloted a pollinator planting project in 2021 with support from the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation to plant 650 herbaceous flowering plants around a green stormwater infrastructure site behind FOW’s field workshop. We were awarded the same grant in 2022 and are thrilled to have the opportunity to improve habitat conditions throughout the park to augment the decreasing populations of pollinators, such as the monarch butterfly, leafcutter bee, and many more. Some of what we planted includes Swamp milkweed, Dense blazing star, New England aster, and Golden Alexander. 

As pollinator species decline, particularly native bee species, it’s important we do our part to create or help protect habitats they rely on. Some steps we can take include planting a pollinator garden with native flowering plants and avoiding spraying herbicide or pesticide in areas where pollinators feed or nest. Pollinator abundance is a good indicator of ecosystem health so we want to keep them around for the long haul!