If you’ve ever wondered where the term “worker bee” comes from, consider this when you sit down for your next meal: One out of every three bites of food you eat exists because of bees and other pollinators. Without their contributions to the pollination of flowering plants, chances are your favorite fruit, vegetable or nut simply wouldn’t be as plentiful, eco-nomical or nutritious.
The connections among growing successful crops, food and pollinator activity suggest that a healthy bee popu-lation is essential to meeting the heightened demand for food that accompanies an expanding global human popula-tion. Additionally, beyond their benefits to crops, pollinators—and their habitats—promote enhanced biodiversity and environmental benefits. Much like the planet’s land and natural resources, however, pollinators face a host of challenges—parasites, disease, poor nutrition, and climate change, to name a few. And just as a varied diet is important for human health, nutrition is equally crucial for the health of bees.
To help support a thriving environment for bees and other pollinators, Syngenta, a global agriculture com-pany, works with beekeepers and researchers throughout the world to better understand pollinators’ needs, iden-tify ways to improve bee health and implement programs to help restore these vital populations.
One such program is Operation Pollinator, which helps establish essential habitats and forage areas on unused commercial farmland, golf courses and other landscapes. Using region-specific wildflower seed mixes, farmers, land managers and golf course superintendents participating in Operation Pollinator cultivate unused areas with native flower species, attracting pollinators while simultaneously beautifying community landscapes. In addition to reviving and restoring pollinator populations, these habitats help reduce soil erosion while protecting water sources from soil and nutrient pollution.
The footprint of Operation Pollinator, now in its 15th year, extends to 13 countries. In the U.S. alone, these habitats can be found on hundreds of golf courses and large swaths of commercial farmland.
Fortunately, you don’t have to be a farmer, own a golf course or have a lot of land to make a difference in pollinator health. Pollinator-friendly gardens and window boxes with native flowers are examples of simple, cost-effective ways to support a thriving bee population. Sponsoring community projects and organizations that plant wildflowers along roadsides, in parks or on other unused land is another way to provide greater access to diverse pollen sources.
For more information about Operation Pollinator, visit www.OperationPollinator-US.com