The Value of Birds and Bees

The Value of Birds and Bees

In honor of National Pollinator Week, let’s take a moment to appreciate the incredible value that birds and bees bring to our ecosystem. These amazing creatures play a crucial role in pollination, ensuring the production of our food and fiber. Join us as we explore how pollinators benefit America’s working forests, farms, and ranches.

How seeds are made

Step outside this June, and you’ll be greeted by a symphony of sights and scents. Hummingbirds gracefully flit through the air, sipping nectar from vibrant flowers. Bees and butterflies hover over budding farm crops, while beetles, ants, and bats join in the feast, feasting on protein-rich pollen.

But these animals aren’t just enjoying a meal – they’re helping plants reproduce. Through the process of pollination, they transfer pollen between the male and female parts of a flower, kickstarting the creation of seeds and the birth of new plants.

The Value of Birds and Bees

Pollinators add value for people and wildlife

Did you know that over 80% of the world’s flowering plants require a pollinator to reproduce? And we humans rely on these pollinators too, as the majority of our food comes from flowering plants. In fact, one out of every three bites of our food, including fruits, vegetables, chocolate, coffee, nuts, and spices, is created with the help of pollinators.

But the value of pollinators extends beyond just food production. They also play a crucial role in the food web, with insects like moths feeding more than 80% of birds in the US, as well as reptiles, amphibians, and mammals. Additionally, pollinators contribute to healthy soils and clean water by fostering robust plant communities.

In fact, the ecological services provided by pollinators are valued at a staggering $200 billion each year. This includes their vital role in generating more profitable yields on America’s working agricultural lands.

The Value of Birds and Bees

The plight of pollinators

Unfortunately, the populations of pollinators, including bees and butterflies, are facing alarming declines. In the United States alone, there are over 4,000 bee species, with honey bees alone responsible for pollinating 80% of all flowering plants, including more than 130 types of fruits and vegetables.

The iconic monarch butterfly, known for its incredible annual migrations, has seen its numbers plummet from one billion to a mere 34 million in the past 25 years. The loss of pollinators can be attributed to various factors, including habitat loss, diseases, parasites, and environmental contaminants.

The Value of Birds and Bees

Producers can help pollinators recover

Thankfully, private landowners are taking action to protect pollinators by implementing sustainable agricultural practices that benefit both wildlife and their bottom line.

A recent study from Montana State University found that rangelands enrolled in rest-rotation grazing through the NRCS Sage Grouse Initiative actually provided better habitat for native pollinators compared to pastures without livestock grazing. This shows that a balance can be struck between agricultural productivity and conservation efforts.

Through the 2018 Farm Bill, the USDA offers numerous conservation activities that benefit both pollinators and producers. These initiatives promote the creation of healthy, high-value plants and habitats, ensuring a brighter future for our pollinators.

Farmers, ranchers, and foresters are contributing to the recovery of pollinator populations.

As we celebrate National Pollinator Week, let’s remember the incredible value that birds and bees bring to our lives. By supporting and protecting these vital pollinators, we can ensure the continued abundance of not only our food but also the ecosystems that sustain us. Together, we can make a difference for the birds, bees, and for future generations.

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