Bees, Birds, Butterflies, Bugs and Bats, Oh My!

How Do Wind and These 5 Bs Help Our Planet?

By Sharon V. Smith and Christie Nix, Fairfax Master Gardeners
butterfly on flowerThe majority of all flowering plants found on our planet need at least one of the 5 Bs: bees, birds, butterflies, bugs and bats. Plants are smart, and they have a special relationship with these animals by attracting them with their color, smell and markings.

Plants provide the 5 Bs with food, shelter and nest-building materials. In return, the animals help to pollinate them. Bees purposely collect the pollen, and birds, butterflies, bugs and bats get the pollen on their bodies as they eat the nectar. This is why we call the 5 Bs pollinators.

As they fly from one flower to the next, the pollen, which is from the male part of a flower, falls off the animal and gets trapped onto the sticky female part of the plant. Fertilization begins, and seeds and fruits with seeds are created.

bee with pollen

Messy bee covered in pollen

You understand the importance of seeds, since seeds are small baby plants. Yet, there is something else that happens that is also very important, and it is the creation of food. More specifically, you like apples, bananas or oranges. You find seeds as well as delicious food to eat. Pollinators play a big role in making this food, and they are essential for farmers and gardeners.

Another type of pollinator is the wind. Plants such as wheat, rice, corn, rye, barley and oats use the wind to move the lightweight pollen from the male part of one plant to the female part of another plant. Yet, while the wind may help these plants, over 75 percent of all flowering plants and almost 75 percent of our crops need the help of pollinators, the 5 Bs.

bat as pollinator

Bat as pollinator

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service celebrated National Pollinator Week in June. You can visit their website to learn about pollinators, what threats pollinators face and, most importantly, how you can help pollinators. Many people are concerned about why we have fewer pollinators, and this has led to the forming of the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign (NAPPC). Over 100 government agencies, educational centers and businesses are working hard to educate people on the importance of pollinators to our planet. The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service works with the NAPPC to protect the pollinators’ habitats. You too can help by creating your own pollinator garden.

Pollinators, U.S Fish & Wildlife Service