|The Departments of Agriculture and Markets and Environmental Conservation announced new actions to protect New York's pollinator population. Bees, butterflies and hummingbirds are critical to both the state's environment and agricultural economy, providing approximately $344 million worth of pollination services to New York each year. The State commemorated these steps during National Pollinator Week (PDF) (June 18-24) with a proclamation issued by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, affirming New York's commitment to promoting the health and recovery of pollinators.
Pollinators are incredibly important to New York's agricultural economy and the floral diversity of natural ecosystems. There is much to learn about these valuable members of New York's ecosystems, as well as many steps your household can take to protect them and to preserve their habitat.
Pollinators aren't only just bees. Hummingbirds, bats, beetles, butterflies and flies that carry pollen from one plant to another as they collect nectar are also considered pollinators. Over 75 percent of all flowering plants are pollinated by animals!
If there were no pollinators, ecosystems, agriculture and economy would have a very different landscape. Without them, wildlife would have fewer nutritious berries and seeds, and there would be far less fruits, vegetables and nuts, like blueberries, squash, almonds, and even chocolate and coffee worldwide.
They need your help! The number of pollinators, including honey bees, native bats, hummingbirds and butterflies has dropped significantly over the past 50 years. Losses are likely caused by a combination of factors including irresponsible pesticide use, poor nutrition, loss of foraging habitat, parasites, pathogens, lack of genetic diversity and poor land management practices.Taking the time to learn about how human actions affect fragile pollinator food chains could have positive effects for years to come.
So what can you do?
- BEE careful with pesticides! - Pesticides known to be particularly harmful to bees have special bee advisory labels on them. To protect bees, it is important to read and follow label instructions when you use pesticides on your lawn and garden. If use is necessary, try to apply the product when the plant is not flowering, when it is not windy, and at night when pollinators are less active. Check out the EPA's guide to better pesticide management practices (PDF).
- Plant a Pollinator Garden - What pollinators need most is a diverse array of nectar and pollen resources. Choose plants that flower at different times of the year to provide nectar and pollen sources all throughout the growing season. Plant in native clumps. Native plants can serve as larval host plants for some species of pollinators. Check out St. Lawrence-Eastern Lake Ontario PRISM's comprehensive guide to making a pollinator pathway (PDF), which is a series of gardens with native plant species that form a distinctive vegetative path in an urban landscape.
It doesn't need to be Pollinator Week for you to make a difference and aid in their diversity and abundance. Practicing these easy methods to help pollinators can make a world of a difference in both your yard and in the local ecosystem.
Learn more about pollinator protection, and feel free to contact us with questions or concerns at PestMgt@dec.ny.gov or give us a call at (518) 402-8748.