#Time4TheTalk: It's Time to Talk About the Birds and the Bees

If you’re dreading the day your child asks you about the birds and the bees, or if you never really got a good answer… now is the time to get excited! It’s time to learn the true story of the birds and the bees and spread the word about how important pollination really is.  The real story about the birds and the bees isn’t about where babies come from, it’s about where our fruits and vegetables come from, and it all starts with pollination! 

The lives of the birds, bees and humans are intricately linked. In fact, one out of every three bites of food we eat is made possible by birds, bees and other pollinators!  Over 100,000 invertebrate species such as bees, moths, butterflies, beetles, and flies serve as pollinators worldwide. At least 1,035 species of vertebrates, including birds, mammals, and reptiles, also pollinate many plant species.  The most widely recognized pollinator is the honeybee, which transfers pollen from male to female flowers to help fruit grow.  Plants like squash depend on the help of outside pollinators, like insects, bats or birds to deliver pollen to the female flowers. Other plants like corn let the wind carry pollen to the female flowers.

In many areas, the populations of pollinators like honey bees have declined due to pesticides, invasive species and habitat loss and need protection.  The U.S. alone has lost more than 50% of its honeybee colonies in the last ten years. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lists over 50 pollinator species as threatened or endangered. Nearly 30% of North America’s bumble bee species may now be at risk of extinction!  Could you imagine a world without potatoes, fruit, apples, blueberries or pumpkins? These are all made possible by pollinators; almost all fruit and grain crops require pollination to grow.

Pollination occurs when these animals gather nectar from flowers and unknowingly transfer pollen from flower to flower.  Birds are not known to pollinate food growing crops, but they are just as important as many flowering plants would be extinct if it wasn’t for them. Two thirds of crops humans use for food production and the majority of wild plant species depend on pollination from birds, bees and other animals.  The time is now to protect these pollinators who are severely threatened. So don’t feel uncomfortable about sharing the true story of the birds and the bees!  Helping to protect pollinator habitats, not using pesticides, and planting flowers are just a few ways you can help make pollination possible while keeping some of your favorite foods on the dinner table. 

Over the past month you guys have done an AMAZING job helping us get the word out about how important pollinators are! But we're not done yet! Not even close! It's #Time4TheTalk! 

Honey-bees make long distance relationships work. They'll travel up to 5mi to feed on nectar & gather pollen! #Time4theTalk #ISF

Honeybees play the field, visiting 50-1000 flowers during a single collection trip. #Time4theTalk #ISF

Birds go for looks. Plants that use birds as pollinators typically have bright red, orange or yellow flowers! #Time4theTalk #ISF

Bumblebees know how to work smarter - scent marking flowers to let others know the nectar is gone. #Time4theTalk #ISF

Want some breakfast? Lunch? & Dinner? Pick 2. Because bees pollinate 1/3 of the food you eat. 2 meals without honey bees! #Time4theTalk #ISF

Get batty! Did you know even bats help with pollination?! #Time4theTalk #ISF

Monarchs pollinate but need milk! Well, milkweed that is! #Time4theTalk #ISF

Save the planet, Save our Pollinators! #Time4theTalk #ISF

Go ahead, Google what Einstein said will happen if we lose honey bees… #Time4theTalk #ISF

Have YOU had the Talk? #Time4theTalk #ISF

Help decrease world hunger by making harvests better with happy pollinators! #Time4theTalk #ISF

 

Written by: Stefanie

http://solutionsforyourlife.ufl.edu/hot_topics/lawn_and_garden/pollination.html
http://www.esa.org/ecoservices/comm/body.comm.fact.poll.html
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120904101128.htm