Help Wanted: Pollinators

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By Heidi Lewis

It’s spring. Blossoms are abundant. Time to get pollinating in the fruit orchards. But since colony collapse disorder has been decimating the honeybee population, we’ll have to look outside the organization for some help. As they say in the bee biz, “No bees, no honey; no work, no money.”

We all admire the functionality of honeybee hives—the awesome productivity of the bees, the seamless flow of communication, all the great honey products. But frankly, not everyone is cut out to work under a monarchy. Honeybees have iPheromone phones with which they collectively regulate hive temperature, population, and housekeeping chores. They’ve got waggle dances, complex vision, and navigation intelligence to boot. With tens of thousands of bees per hive, that equals a pollination powerhouse.

But let’s say your hive is going through a re-org or supersedure, or getting ready to swarm. It’s a good time to think outside the box and examine the résumés of some independent contractor pollinators:

Bumblebees
These drones are always first to the office. The gentle buzz of bumblebees is the signal that spring has arrived. Darwin called them humble bugs, but don’t let their torpid flight fool you—these bees get in those flowers, buzz away, and get the job done.

Hummingbirds
Able to type 1,000 words per minute, these multi-taskers favor red flowers. Migratory creatures, hummingbirds are able to work between Alaska and Mexico.

Bats
Willing to work the night shift, bats are especially attracted to white flowers. They help pollinate a wide variety of tropical plants, cacti, and more. Their primary strength is in pest control.

Plant for Pollinators
You can help pollinators of all kinds find jobs—choose native plants for your garden that provide forage.  BeeSmart is a handy iPhone/Android app that lists region-specific pollinator-friendly plants. Consider creating a habitat where pollinators can nest. Or if you’d like to apply for the job yourself, try running around a meadow sticking your proboscis into flowers.

 

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