It’s National Pollinator Week, June 15-21! Join us on Friday, June 19, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., to learn about bees, birds, bats and other pollinating animals at the sixth annual Pollinator Festival outside USDA Headquarters along 12th Street in Washington, DC. More than 14 USDA agencies, other federal departments and partners will celebrate the significance of pollinators.
Pollinators like honey bees, native bees, birds, bats, butterflies and other animals perform vital but often unnoticed services. They pollinate crops like apples, blueberries, strawberries, melon, peaches, potatoes, vanilla, almonds, coffee and chocolate. Without pollinators our diets would lack diversity, flavor and nutrition. An estimated $15 billion worth of crops, including more than 90 fruits and vegetables are pollinated by honey bees alone.
You have probably heard that pollinator populations are dwindling because of numerous stressors that include loss of appropriate habitat, pests and pathogens, and exposure to pesticides. Without our help, they will continue to decline. This is why it’s so important to learn what you can do to help pollinators. Attending the USDA Pollinator Festival is a great (and fun) way to get educated and engaged.
Festival highlights include viewing live honey bees in a glass enclosed observation hive with USDA’s Agricultural Research Service Bee Research Lab; sampling honey from the People’s Garden Apiary; learning how to install a bat house with the Forest Service; seeing live bats – including the world’s largest bat species – up close with Organization for Bat Conservation; getting tips for creating a pollinator friendly backyard with Natural Resources Conservation Service; and much more.
If you can’t join us during the day then join us at night for our first ever Pollinator Week Night Bat Walk on Friday, June 19, from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. We’ll meet at the People's Garden (corner of 12th Street and Jefferson Drive, SW) right outside the Smithsonian Metro stop. Bats pollinate banana, avocado, and mango. They are also the only pollinators of agave, the plant used to make tequila! Come explore DC at sunset with a bat expert. We’ll look for local insect-eating bats, and you can ask all your batty questions and test out the latest technology in bat detection electronics.
And for those not in DC, please help support USDA’s efforts to engage citizens in taking meaningful and important steps to restore pollinator populations to healthy levels. Every action counts this week and every week! Share steps you are taking for pollinators with @PeoplesGarden using hashtags #PW2015 and #PollinatorWeek.