Season 1 • Episode 3 - August 7, 2022

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For our podcast this week we are talking about the birds and the bees. Actually, we are talking about pollinators. Of course the first question is ‘What is a pollinator?’ It could be a lot of different insects and animals. The ones that people think about are bees, butterflies and birds, but there are also ants, moths, slugs, bats and even wasps. The variety of pollinators are incredible and not limited to daytime. There are blooms during the day and at night. Of course we talked about the Xerces Society and their definition of a pollinator. http://www.xerces.org/pollinator-conservation/about-pollinators ( by the way, a bee is not a bug!) Oregon State Extension also has some great links to lists of pollinators. https://extension.oregonstate.edu/gardening/pollinators How does a pollinator work? Many pollinators use sight and smell to find the flowers and nectar that they crave. Some even use UV light sensitivity like polarized light and UV, to find their flowers, even at night.

Most people are familiar with the European Honey Bee. The Oregon Bee Project - https://www.oregonbeeproject.org/ has resources for bee keepers, growers, pesticide applicators, foresters and gardeners. They also have a list of the top native pollinators in Oregon that can be found on the Educator page of the website.

Why should we care? According to the Xerces Society ‘The ecological service they provide is necessary for the reproduction of over 85% of the world’s flowering plants, including more than two-thirds of the world’s crop species. The United States alone grows more than 100 crops that either need or benefit from pollinators, and the economic value of these native pollinators is estimated at $3 billion per year in the U.S. Beyond agriculture, pollinators are keystone species in most terrestrial ecosystems. Fruits and seeds derived from insect pollination are a major part of the diet of approximately 25% of all birds, and of mammals ranging from red-backed voles to grizzly bears.’ – http://www.xerces.org/pollinator-conservation/whats-at-stake. If you don’t have pollinators, you would see the yields from fruits and flowers diminish greatly. The food chain would be severely affected and other species would have problems surviving.

What about the native pollinator vs. introduced pollinator (native bugs vs. European bees and introduced species). The honey bee is the workhorse for many farmers, but there were native pollinators that were here before the bees were imported. The Xerces Society has a lot of great information about native species on their website, http://www.xerces.org/.

Of course the next question is ‘How can we help’? Here is a link to a site with 4 ways to start, http://www.xerces.org/bring-back-the-pollinators. You can even sign a pledge and join a Pollinator Conservation Program - http://www.xerces.org/pollinator-conservation.

You can also use plants to attract and help pollinators. Here’s a short plant list from OSU https://extension.oregonstate.edu/sites/default/files/documents/12281/pollinatorplants.pdf We even talked about Stoller Family Estate planting their pollinator garden to help with diversity in their vineyard. That included the nature-scaping in their meadow and around the signature Oak tree. You could even start with the planting of a milkweed plant for the monarch butterfly, though we recommended to plant milkweed species that are native to your area. We also recommend a planting of Native plants, along with cultivars and nativars, and don’t forget trees! Use a staggered plantings to provide for pollinators through the whole season.

There are 2 charts that we talked about. The perennial plant list we have on our website, http://gardentime.tv/charts/perennial.htm, which is pretty specific to the Pacific Northwest, and Ryan’s list of pollinator plants (click here).

A few other tips include using less chemicals. When you do, apply them at the right time and read the label. Remember that organic chemicals can be as damaging as synthetics if used incorrectly and at the wrong time. You can also provide nesting sites for native pollinators, mason bee houses are a great example, and even not cleaning your garden too much to allow for ground based bees and pollinators.

An effective design is a great place to start. You can begin with a simple potted plant or container, or get some great design tips here! Designing a pollinator friendly garden - https://extension.oregonstate.edu/video/buzzing-beautiful-designing-pollinator-gardens-osu-extension

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