Sunday 2 August 2020

Protecting Pollinators

Finished July 28
Protecting Pollinators: How to Save the Creatures That Feed Our World by Jodi Helmer

This book is full of information on the importance of pollinators and how we can act to help them survive. Pollinators are responsible for one-third of the crops that feed us, but half of their 200,000 species are threatened, some quite significantly. The percentage of pollinator-dependent food crops has increased 300 percent in the last 50 years, but despite this reliance, the pollinators themselves are more endangered than ever. This book is mostly focused on the United States, but as pollinators don't recognize borders, discussion sometimes goes beyond.
This book is organized into seven chapters. Within each chapter there are side columns that go deeper into certain aspects of the subject. Chapter One, Bees and Beyond tells us about the wide range of pollinators that exist, beyond just the ones that easily come to mind like bees and butterflys. Helmer gives information on the state of research into different pollinators and the public awareness of them. Side columns here are Plant Sex, The Rusty-Patched Bumblebee Made History, Raise Your Glass to Pollinating Bats (main pollinators of agave, from whence tequila), Are High-Tech Drones the Next-Generation Pollinators?, A Presidential Plea to Protect Pollinators (Obama administration), and Pollinators in Peril.
Chapter Two, No Place Like Home, talks about pollinator habitat and feeding needs. Here Helmer discusses the ways that habitat, even in small plots, can be added back to both urban and rural areas. Side columns here are Habitat Affects Honey Flavor (I love my buckwheat honey!), Pollinator Strips Might Not Work, A Cotton-Pickin' Boost for Pollinators, Could the Farm Bill Help Pollinators?, and Fireflies Are Burning Out.
Chapter Three, Taming Toxins brings into discussion the various chemicals, like pesticides and non-native flora and fauna, that have affected pollinators. Some are outright lethal, others are sublethal in that they affect the pollinator physiology and behaviour and make them less able to do their work. Side columns here are The Pests Decimating Honeybee Colonies, Harmful Herbicides, Neonics Not Welcome, White-Nose Syndrome and Pesticides, and Could Crop Insurance Promote Pesticide Use?
Chapter Four, The Need for Native Plants, looks at how the introduction of plants from other parts of the world have driven out some native plants the pollinators rely upon, or due to their different flowering cycle, changed their migratory habits. Side columns here are Venus Flytraps Control Their Appetites for Survival, Identifying Invasive Species, Ten Pollinator-Friendly Native Plants, Doggy Detective Keeps Bees Safe, Replacing Honeybees with Native Pollinators, Adopt a Trail, Eat the Invaders (some tasty invasive species can be eaten into extinction), and Caprine Cleaning Crew.
Chapter Five, Lessons from a Warming Planet discusses how climate change is affecting pollinators. In some cases the plants that pollinators rely on and the pollinators are in sync as the climate grows warmer, but in other cases they are not, which can mean the pollinator appears in the spring before or after their food source has, leading to population decline or possible extinction. Side columns here are Bats Help Save the Rainforest, Developing Mite-Resistant Bees, Climate Change Could Be Poisoning Monarchs, and Climate Change Helps Invasive Species Thrive.
Chapter Six, Helping Without Hurting, discusses how some things people are doing that they think are helping are not, and what they could do that is similar but different that would be a real help to the pollinators. Side columns here are Retailers Help Keep Gardens Neonic-Free, The Unexpected Consequence of Your Favorite Drink (more than you knew about almond milk), A Desire to Help the Bees Drives Honey Demand, Beekeepers Feel the Sting of Stolen Hives, Are Bee Hotels Bad for Bees?, and Don't Forget About Trees.
Chapter Seven, Stand Up and Be Counted discusses the huge impact that citizen scientists can have on data collection, observation, and positive change. Side columns are Putting Milkweed on the Map, Ten Principles of Citizen Science, Pollinators Seek Out Urban Addresses, Three Ways the Public Participates in Citizen Science, Citizen Scientists Honor the Stars, and the important Twenty-Nine Ways You Can Help Protect Pollinators.
There is also an extensive bibliography for those who want to learn more.
This is a great resource to learn about this important and critical subject.

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