Maryland Governor O'Malley will issue a proclamation declaring June 22-28, 2009 Maryland Pollinator Week, corresponding to National Pollinator Week. The week is an opportunity for all to learn more about pollinators, appreciate their contribution to our lives, and engage in activities to protect pollinators and educate others about them.
Plants must be pollinated in order to set seed or bear fruit. With no pollination at all, many of the foods we eat would no longer be available. Many flying creatures, such as bees, butterflies, birds, and bats are pollinators: their actions move the pollen grains from flower to flower. It is estimated that 1/3 of the food we eat can be traced to animal pollinated plants.
A National Academy of Sciences study found a decline in pollinators generally. This is alarming not only because our food depends on them, but also because they are critical to some ecosystems and because their condition is an indicator of ecosystem health.
Honeybees are valuable for their honey, and even more valuable for the pollination services that beekeepers can provide. The success of many crops depends on honeybee pollination, but pests and diseases have made it harder and harder to maintain healthy managed colonies. Recently, Colony Collapse Disorder, CCD, whose cause is still unknown, has devastated the hives of many commercial beekeepers. The United States no longer maintains enough colonies to pollinate its crops and must import bees each year from other countries. A recent Canadian study found that although the total number of bees worldwide is increasing, the demands of intensive agriculture have been growing even more quickly, creating shortages.
In Maryland, about 1700 beekeepers, most with just a few colonies, pollinate our pumpkins, orchards, melons, and squash. CCD is not a problem yet, perhaps because Maryland is nearly self sufficient in bees and relatively few of Maryland's hives travel out of state. The Maryland State Beekeepers Association, in its 101st year, and local independent beekeepers associations teach people how to be successful beekeepers. To find your local Maryland beekeepers association go to www.msbeea.com.
National Pollinator Week is an initiative of the North American Pollinator Partnership (NAPPC). For more information see www.pollinator.org.