Virginia Pollinator Week highlights work of honeybees, other pollinators
Every third bite in your mouth is made possible by pollination. That is why Governor Northam declared June 18-24 as Virginia Pollinator Week. The state celebration coincides with National Pollinator Week, established 11 years ago by the U.S. Senate. Its goal is to explain the essential role that pollinators play in our environment and agriculture and how citizens can play a part in protecting them.
Honeybees enable the production of at least 90 commercially grown crops in the nation. In Virginia, honeybees are essential pollinators for about one-third of the state’s fruit and vegetable crops. But the bee population, as well as the populations of other pollinators such as birds, butterflies, bats and beetles, is declining dramatically, between 30 to 40 percent each year for honeybees.
Without adequate pollination services, Virginia could experience a significant reduction in its harvest of apples, alfalfa, berries, cucumbers, melons, peaches, squash, tomatoes and pumpkins.
The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) says that Virginia residents can do at least two things to enhance our pollinator populations: 1) become a beekeeper or 2) plant a pollinator garden or window box.
State Apiarist Keith Tignor, or members of a local beekeeping association, can assist people who want to become beekeepers, and everyone can plant a pollinator garden. The BeeSmart Pollinator Gardener app – pollinator.org/beesmartapp.htm – will help you get started. Here are a few simple tips: plant a variety of flowers that bloom at different times of the year; plant flowers in clumps rather than singly or in rows; choose flowers in a variety of colors and shapes; and select plants that attract pollinators in your area. Go to pollinator.org/guides and enter your zip code for an area-specific guide.
For additional information, Virginians should contact Tignor at VDACS, 804.786.3515 or email@example.com.