You may not always be able to observe pollinators in a garden, yard, or green space, but they are constantly present, and are actually working to our advantage. Not only are pollinators, mainly bees, wasps, flies, beetles, butterflies, moths, and hummingbirds, an important part of the natural environment and its cycle of life, but they also benefit us by their services to plants. As a group they pollinate fruits and vegetables, including sunflowers, peas, beans, tomatoes, squash, pumpkins, zucchini, cucumber, blueberries, apples, pears, peaches, apricots, cherries, strawberries and raspberries, and flowers, both wild and domesticated. In general, pollinators make plants healthier and more likely to produce a better quality harvest. The presence of pollinators in the urban garden can only be positive. Some solitary bees, for example that nest in the ground, build tunnels that improve soil texture, mix nutrients into the soil, as well as increasing the movement of water around plant roots.1
Worldwide evidence shows that pollinator populations are declining, especially that of the honeybee. Not all the particular reasons are known, because the decline could be due to many factors, including disease, pesticide use, and the destruction and fragmentation of habitat.2
By creating or improving attractive environments for pollinators in an urban setting you can provide essential habitats for these insects and birds. Habitats may not be widely available in the setting of urban and suburban development, unless otherwise provided or helped to develop. Pollinators, such as bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds are also very interesting to observe and can provide much enjoyment. When you foster a pleasant pollinator-friendly garden you can experience the pleasure of having pure, wild nature in your own backyard. Creating such a place is a simple way to show awareness about pollinators and connected issues, and show an important appreciation of nature.
- “Our home and native bees.” David Suzuki Foundation: 2007. http://www.davidsuzuki.org/Conservation/Endangered_Species/pollinators/bees.asp
- “Your Urban Garden is Better with Bees.” North American Pollinator Protection Campaign. http://www.pollinator.org/resources.htm