June is pollinator month: Why we care and what we can do

Here's the Skinny:

Yarrow is a great addition to the perennial garden and bees and butterflies love it.

Yarrow is a great addition to the perennial garden and bees and butterflies love it.

A pollinator is anything that helps carry pollen from the male part of the flower (stamen) to the female part of the same or another flower (stigma). The movement of pollen must occur for the the plant to become fertilized and produce fruits, seeds,and young plants. Some plants are self-pollinating, while others may be fertilized by pollen carried by wind or water. Still other flowers are pollinated by insects and animals, such as bees, wasps, moths, butterflies, birds, flies and small mammals, including bats. (definition from: Pollinators; US National Parks)

Here's Why We Care:

Big deal, you're thinking. Yes, exactly. Pollinators are a big deal. Check it out. 

Big thanks to Chris Stone, our perennials buyer, who has spearheaded this event for our store. But wait......Is that Chris? Oh sorry, my mistake. That's a butterfly pollinating the agastache. 

Big thanks to Chris Stone, our perennials buyer, who has spearheaded this event for our store. But wait......Is that Chris? Oh sorry, my mistake. That's a butterfly pollinating the agastache. 

Many of our food crops require pollination. It is estimated that one in every three bites of food that you eat exists because of pollinators. This food includes vegetables, fruits and seeds. Seeds is key here. Without pollinators the seed supply of many crops is disrupted. At least 75% of all flowering plants are pollinated by insects and animals, that comes to a whopping 180,000 different types of plants, 1200 of which are food crops.

There's also this: Plants stabilize our soils, clean our air, supply oxygen and support wildlife.  Bottom line: We need our pollinators.

Here's the Problem:

A garden favorite, Echincacea is a butterfly and bee magnet. Leave the seed heads for the birds during winter.

A garden favorite, Echincacea is a butterfly and bee magnet. Leave the seed heads for the birds during winter.

So, pollinators are in trouble? Sadly, yes. Penn State Department of Entomology informs us that, historically, managed bee communities have been monitored due to their major role in food crops, which gives us some hard data. Since 2006 monitoring results show bee populations declining an average of 30% per year in America.

A United Nations Science report released in February of this year reveals that more than just bees are in danger of extinction. All pollinators are in jeopardy. The report included 127 researchers from around the world who worked together under the umbrella of the U.N. It's hard to point to one thing in our environment that is killing the pollinators, all agree, but here are a few culprits. (For a more detailed information on what's harming the pollinators read here and here.)

  1. Habitat loss (development)
  2. Pesticides
  3. Climate change
  4. Parasites and diseases

Here's What We Can Do:

The employees at BB Barns are passionate about plants and people. So naturally, we're passionate about pollinators, too. 

The employees at BB Barns are passionate about plants and people. So naturally, we're passionate about pollinators, too. 

Okay, yes, not a good way to start your Sunday, with such dire news. But hold on. The better news is that countries don't need to work together on this issue like they do with say, climate control. The solution begins locally. 

During the month of June, BB Barns will be celebrating pollinators and providing you with useful information. We want to partner with our customers to bring back the pollinators. We believe we can make a difference right here in our backyard of Western North Carolina. The blog and newsletters will highlight specific actions we're taking, so look for that. (Next week: BB Barns is going neonicotiniod free).

Read here for our month long celebration of pollinator activities that are educational and fun.

Here's What You Can Do:

Agastache 'Golden Jubliee' a standout in the garden and among pollinators.

Agastache 'Golden Jubliee' a standout in the garden and among pollinators.

  1. Plant pollinator friendly plants.  
  2. Diversify your plants so something is blooming spring, summer and fall.
  3. Provide clean water in a shallow basin and include small rocks for perches.
  4. Reduce or eliminate pesticide use. 
  5. Put pollinator boxes out for habitat, or if you have the room, leave dead trees where they are for wood-nesting bees and beetles.
  6. Get involved with local groups: Buncombe County Bee Keeper's

BB Barns will have different pollinating plants on sale during June to help get your pollinator garden going. Check here to see what we have this week. And, all our plants will be marked as to what pollinators they attract, so look for labels or ask our staff. 

Here's a list of the perennials we're highlighting:

Summer classics yarrow and butterfly weed. A great plant combination and pollinator for bees and butterflies. Leave seed heads for birds in winter.

Summer classics yarrow and butterfly weed. A great plant combination and pollinator for bees and butterflies. Leave seed heads for birds in winter.

  • Agastache 
  • 'Autumn Fire' Sedum
  • Bee Balm
  • Butterfly weed
  • Catmint
  • Liatris
  • Penestom
  • Phlox
  • Russian Sage
  • Shasta Daisy

So go ahead, be the bee's knees and help the pollinators. (You knew I had to say it.) Enjoy the day and here's hoping for rain!

Written by Cinthia Milner, Garden Coach, OSA, blog writer

BB Barns Garden Center serves all of Western North Carolina, upstate South Carolina, and Tennessee.