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Pollinators are Important

Above: Bumblebee on coneflower. Photo: Purdue University

It’s estimated that one in every three bites of food we eat is due to cross-pollination by pollinators. I think it’s fair to say that pollinators are important to all of us as we approach National Pollinator Week, June 19-25, 2023.

Pollination is important for maintaining genetic diversity in many plants. Pollinators also provide prey resources for other organisms, including migrating birds. Indiana’s pollinators include 430 species of bees, 144 species of butterflies, more than 2,000 species of moths, and many species of flower-visiting flies, wasps, ants, and beetles.

In addition to the traditional insect pollinators we think about, hummingbirds, bats, and small mammals also play a role in pollination.

Pollinators play a critical role in the production of many of our food products, especially fruits, vegetables, and nuts. In Indiana, apples, blueberries, cucumbers, melons, pumpkins, strawberries, peaches, blackberries, and raspberries depend on pollinators. Some other crops may not require pollinators but have better yields with them.

Of course, most people think primarily of the honey bee when pollinators are mentioned. Former Purdue Extension Honey Bee Specialist and Professor Emeritus, Greg Hunt, along with Fred Whitford and other Purdue specialists, collaborated on a comprehensive publication entitled, "The Complex Life of the Honey Bee," available as a download at the online Education Store,, or for purchase. Some copies may also be available at local Purdue Extension offices. We have a few copies remaining, so stop into the Whitley County Extension office if you’d like one.

Homeowners would benefit from the Purdue Extension publication, "Protecting Pollinators in Home Lawns and Landscapes." This publication highlights steps we can all take to reduce risk to pollinators, including reading and following insecticide labels, using insecticides only when necessary, don’t treat areas where pollinators visit, avoiding neonicotinoids on flowering trees, maintaining buffers between lawns and flowering plants, and embrace alternatives.

Many home gardeners have elected to plant a pollinator garden to enhance the habitat for pollinators. Others have installed mason bee hotels.

Find Purdue Extension’s resources on pollinator protection at: Indiana Department of Natural Resources also has a website dedicated to pollinator conservation at: Finally, the Indiana State Department of Agriculture lists programs and initiatives promoting pollinator habitat at:

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