Protecting Pollinators at the Minnesota State Fair

A bee seeks pollen from a balloon flower at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.

A bee seeks pollen from a balloon flower at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.

One of the top issues with gardeners these days is the plight of pollinators — bees, other insects and butterflies. If you have gardened for any length of time, you cannot help but notice that pollinator numbers are down. Protecting pollinators has become a big issue with many gardeners.

This year, the theme of the MSHS educational display at the Minnesota State Fair is pollinators. You’ll find lots of information about how plants get pollinated, which insects and animals do it and how to encourage pollinators in your own garden.

Who pollinates plats: It’s a surprisingly long list.

Bees are the main pollinators for fruits and vegetables. North America has over 4,000 native bee species. They nest underground, in twigs and debris or in dead trees. Because of how their vision works, bees prefer flowers that are pink, purple,

Monarchs love zinnias.

Monarchs love zinnias.

Butterflies and moths also help in pollination. Nectar-seeking butterflies are daytime garden visitors and moths come by at night.

Beetles, flies and other insects visit flowers often and contribute to pollination.

Birds and bats also help with pollination. We’ve seen hummingbirds at flowers and they are the most common avian pollinators in our area. Hummingbirds prefer tubular flowers in bright, warm colors, especially red. Two species of bats are major pollinators in the Southwest United States.

How does animal pollination work?  Pollinators, such as bees and butterflies,visit flowers in their search for food (nectar and pollen). While at the flower, they brush against the flower’s reproductive parts, depositing pollen from a different flower. The plant then uses the pollen to grow a fruit or seed. Many plants cannot reproduce without pollen carriedto them by foraging pollinators.

For more information about pollination, be sure to stop by our booth near The Dirt Stage at the Minnesota State Fair.

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