I'm an artist and pollinator enthusiast who moved to Alexandria in October, 2010. Right now my big project is to get a new license plate passed in Virginia to promote pollinator conservation. In conjunction with that, I'm trying to raise awareness of our declining pollinators and why they're important.
What's a pollinator? It's a creature that facilitates pollen being moved from one part of a flower to another, or amongst different flowers. The act of doing so is called "pollination," and most plants need the help of a pollinator to produce seed. Those that don't need pollinators use the wind to transfer pollen, and those are the plants that make you sneezy in the spring and fall. If we lose our pollinators, those are the only plants we'll have left.
1/3 of our food supply is pollinated by bees. Foods such as pumpkins, tomatoes, apples, almonds, blueberries, cranberries, and peaches would skyrocket in price and be unaffordable to the majority of us if there were no bees to pollinate them. Even coffee and chocolate need pollinators, and most of us would certainly hate to see those go!
Many people are aware by now that honeybees have been having a lot of trouble; however, not as much has been said about the status of our native pollinators (bumble bees, orchard mason bees, wasps, butterflies). They aren't as well managed as honeybees, so it's harder to keep track of their numbers. We have 4,000 different native bee species in Virginia alone, and more then 25,000 in North America! It's time to take a look around us and do what we can to help these little guys before it's too late.