BOULDER COUNTY – One of the best parts of being a gardener is that I’m never alone. In the quiet of the morning or heat of noon, there’s a buzz of activity that surrounds and uplifts me whenever I spend time out there. Dodging past butterflies clumsily flitting about, bees zipping from flower to flower, and making way for beetles muscling their way around remind me that a large part of the garden is the life within.
I can’t imagine a garden without it and neither can Governor Hickenlooper who, mindful of the contributions and importance of our tiny neighbors, declared June Colorado’s Pollinator Month.
“This month we celebrate and honor the small but mighty bee,” said Gov. John Hickenlooper. “Bees, and other pollinators, are crucial for our ecosystem and the starting point of the food chain that serves countless species, including humans! The out-sized work of bees makes them truly fantastic creatures.”
The designation is part of a larger effort by the People and Pollinators Action Network and the Colorado Pollinator Network to raise awareness for the bees, beetles, butterflies, moths, hummingbirds and flies that spread love around plants.
“At Boulder County we understand the critical importance of raising awareness for pollinators and their role in our environment,” said Boulder County Commissioner Deb Gardner. “Pollinators are essential to agriculture and Open Space ecosystems and are an important part of creating a more sustainable Boulder County. We encourage community members to take part in some, or all, of the fascinating Pollinator Month activities and events taking place across the county throughout the month of June.”
Says Jessica Goldstrohm, co-chair of the Education and Outreach Workgroup of the Colorado Pollinator Network with Amanda Accamando: “We’re showcasing pollinators so people can engage with them, personally connecting with them through observation in their own yards.”
Events planned throughout the month are designed to help people learn to recognize and observe their pollinators, which are more than just honeybees. “We have over
950 native bees in Colorado, which are different than honeybees that were originally brought over from Europe. About 70-percent of the natives nest underground; they live with us in our yards without us knowing,” said Goldstrohm.
Native bees are important in the pollination of crops such as squash, tomatoes, or eggplant, according to The Bee’s Needs website, part of the University of Colorado’s Museum of Natural History, beesneeds.colorado.edu. These crops aren’t pollinated by honeybees.
If a lack of eggplant doesn’t motivate you to help protect pollinators, consider other things they bring us: coffee, vanilla and chocolate. How can you help keep pollinators happy? Plant flowers, says Goldstrohm.
“There’s not enough food in the landscape. In urban settings, there are a lot of green lawns but not flowers. Most bees only travel 250 to 1500 feet to get food,” she said. Check out the list of bee-friendly plants on her website, the Bee’s Waggle, thebeeswaggle.wordpress.com/2017/05/03/colorado-pollinator-garden.
Remember that pesticides, especially insecticides, can harm pollinators, so go easy on them and avoid broad spectrum sprays. Read and follow the label on any product, paying attention to restriction on applying to plants in bloom.
“People are open to the idea of protecting pollinators and our state can be an example of how to do it,” Goldstrohm said. Throughout June, Colorado museums, libraries, businesses, gardens and farmer’s markets will be hosting pollinator activities and events. To see a complete list of Pollinator Month events and to find out how you can support pollinators, visit coloradopollinatormonth.com.
By Carol O’Meara, Colorado State University Extension. Colorado State University Extension, together with Boulder County Parks and Open Space, provides unbiased, research-based information about consumer and family issues, horticulture, natural resources, agriculture and 4-H youth development. For more information contact Extension at the Boulder County Fairgrounds, 9595 Nelson Rd., Box B, Longmont, 303.678.6238, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit ext.colostate.edu/boulder.