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Insect pollination is essential to many vegetable and fruit crops, including tomatoes, squash, pumpkins, watermelons, blueberries, blackberries, apples, almonds, and many others. In the case of watermelons, there will be no fruit without pollination. Some vegetables don't require pollination to set fruit, but pollination by bees will result in larger and more abundant fruits. Nearly 75% of the flowering plants on Earth rely on pollinators to set seed or fruit, as well as one-third of our food crops, and most pollination is performed by honey bees, native bees, and other insects. Try Johnny's Beneficial Insects Attractant Mix. See all of our varieties that are good for attracting beneficial insects.
Yet pollinators are at risk throughout North America. Beekeepers are losing commercial honeybees to colony collapse disorder. Several species of bumblebees are nearly extinct and many others are suffering severe declines. Other pollinating insects are similarly suffering from reduced habitat.
As farmers and gardeners, we are in a position to provide food and habitat for native pollinators. We have the land, tools, and know-how to create insectary plantings and wild areas where pollinators can take refuge. They, in turn, will provide more abundant food for us, and those same plantings will attract other beneficial insects for improved pest management.
Here are some guidelines for the kinds of plantings that will attract and nurture native pollinators, provided by the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.
The Xerces Society has numerous fact sheets about landscaping for pollinators, and has just published an excellent book, Attracting Native Pollinators, that covers pollination biology, identification, and conservation strategies.
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Reprinted from JSS Advantage May 2011