Friday, February 23, 2007

Hug a bee (or a moth, or an ant or...)

Pollinators are an essential part of a healthy ecosystem and play a significant role in the production of more than 150 food crops in the US. Wild and domestic bees do the majority of the work to provide us with apples and almonds and cranberries, but other invertebrates like butterflies, beetles, and flies, as well as vertebrates like birds and bats also play a role. In addition to increasing the productivity of food crops, pollinators are also responsible for the survival and reproduction of many native plant species.

It's easy to appreciate the beauty of flowers, but I'm fascinated to consider the myriad ways that flowers and pollinators have evolved together to ensure that plants produce offspring. The challenge to plants being that they're stationary and can't wander off to a singles bar on Friday night to be fertilized. Instead, they entice pollinators to come to them with scent and shape and color.

Populations of native pollinators are declining for the same reasons we know to affect other wildlife: habitat loss, pesticide use, pollution, poor agricultural practices, introduced species, etc - we're all familiar with that list. It's important to make people aware of the problem and the ways that they might help to mitigate the damage we do. I'd imagine that most flower and vegetable gardeners have some experience with pollinators, both positive and negative. It's the people who have never grown a tomato or who are convinced that *nature* is out to get them that could benefit the most, in my opinion, from a basic understanding of plant biology and how it affects the food on our table and the landscape outside our front door.

The image above is the new *Pollination* stamp series from the US Postal Service due out in June of this year. "The intricate design of these beautiful stamps emphasizes the ecological relationship between pollinators and plants and suggests the biodiversity necessary to ensure the viability of that relationship." A sure way to dress up the monthly bills.

14 comments:

vicki said...

Neat stamps. And that reminds me- I have a post with pictures about my milkweed, caterpillars and so forth. :-)

I think he brought me something but he hasn't unpacked yet- he's still sleeping off jet lag and meetings.

Body Soul Spirit said...

My uncle rents bee hives every spring for his apple orchard. He also is an avid stamp collector and I will have to make sure he sees these beautiful stamps! If only everyone appreciated how important insects and other creatures are in sustaining our environment.
Ruth

mon@rch said...

Just love those stamps with all the different critters on them! I thought it was very creative! BTW: Did I hear somewhere where stamps were going up to 49 cents here soon?

Endment said...

These stamps are beautiful - I will have to get in line at my local post office and get some!

Mary said...

I feel silly when I sit and watch the pollenators do their busines well. I know they are an important part of the living cycle but I won't "HUG" a bee... LOl!

I do appreciate the insects but there are many that I avoid, particularly spiders and bees. I'm phobia-proned.

I did make friends with a "Charlotte's Web" spider one summer. I watched that spider at dawn and dusk every day- unweaving and weaving. That was pre-camera days. Am I off-track here? I should go to bed now.

Great post. Understood. I'll look for those stamps. Did Mon@rch say 49 cents??? That's quite a price hike!

Michelle said...

Nope. Can't dress up monthly bills. Some A/R clerk is ripping them open so fast they never even notice the stamps. But....Maybe you meant enjoying putting them on. I *do* notice the stamps that come on the envelopes from people I know. Who knows, maybe someone is sitting in a cubicle somewhere with no windows opening envelope after envelope and stops for a second to notice your lovely stamps.

A bit "Dilbert" - sorry.

Laurie said...

We work with producers on pollinator friendly plantings. It's really interesting how it all works together.

Native trees, shrubs, forbs, and grasses planted along farm and ranch borders and within fields can attract wildlife, including pollinators and beneficial insects. The right mix of plant species will bloom all season and provide a continuous source of nectar and pollen needed by pollinators and other beneficials.

It's really a win-win scenario for ranchers, farmers and small acreage owners.

Great post, Laura.

Lynne said...

This is a great post Laura! Purdy stamps too!

Floridacracker said...

Great minds and all that ...
Bee at PF too.

Good post. Their importance can't be exaggerated.

burning silo said...

What lovely stamps. I'll probably be posting about honey bees tomorrow as we saw something very strange while out hiking today -- bees scattered all over the snow.

John said...

Beautiful stamps - I hope my local post office carries them. That is not always the case with specialty stamps, unfortunately.

Nancy said...

I agree with Michelle that the monthly bills are not worthy of these stamps ... but I will get them to dress up my notes and cards.
Thanks for posting about them.
And speaking of pollinators, I've had enough winter here in NY state and I'm counting the days 'till May when our hummers return!

Jayne said...

What beautiful stamps! Can't wait until June. Such a delicate balance, it all is...

LauraHinNJ said...

Vicki: I'll have to search around for that bug post of yours.

Ruth: Beekeeping is really interesting - i have a friend who does it and moves his hives around to farms like you mentioned.

Monarch: They are pretty, but 49 cents?

Endment: They'd be nice on all those beautiful handwritten letters I'm sure you send to very special people.

Mary: I like spiders too! I'm only creeped out by bugs when there's a whole bunch of them together, like when you lift up a piece of wood in the garden and find gangs of sow bugs underneath. Or silverfish - I don't like them at all - yuck!

Michelle: That's probably true, but I don't send many personal letters, so wouldn't often have an excuse to use these otherwise.

Laurie: Yes - I should have mentioned all that too.

Lynne: Did you notice the bat and hummingbird?

FC: Yes, great minds. But I'm daydreaming about a time two months in the future - you have the real thing now.

Bev: Cool - I'll look forward to it. I have an idea what that may be about.

John: They are some great nature stamps. I have trouble finding the nice ones also, but I think you can order them online.

Nancy: Hi! I'm ready for spring too.

Jayne: June and sunsshine - come soon!