Learning about pollinators is one great way to celebrate Pollinator week (or any time of the year!), as there is so much to learn about these fascinating and important creatures. There are films, podcasts, books, exhibits, smartphone apps, and distance learning experiences that all delve deeper into pollinators, their habitats, and the threats they’re currently facing. The following suggestions are just some of the many ways you can learn about these amazing creatures!
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Documentaries and Podcasts
One documentary to watch this week is The Pollinators (2019), which follows migratory beekeepers and their bees as they travel the country to pollinate the flowers that become the fruits, nuts, and vegetables that we eat. This documentary shares how modern farming is different from how things were done event just a century ago and how pesticides are drastically and negatively affecting the bees we rely on.
From Oregon State University’s Extension Service and Pollinator Health Program comes the podcast ‘PolliNation’, which shares the stories of researches, land owners, and concerned citizens working on protecting and improving the health of pollinators. This show covers topics like the types of plants that pollinators like, different types of pollinators, the organizations doing related work, field guides, and so much more. As of June 2021, there were over 180 episodes of PolliNation.
The Pollinator Partnership, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the protection and promotion of pollinators, has a few reading materials on pollinators available for order (by donation). Shipping is available for those in North America and titles include
- “Bee Basics- An Introduction To Our Native Bees” By Beatriz Moisset, Ph.D And Stephen Buchmann, Ph.D.
- “Bumble Bees Of The Western United States” By Jonathan Koch, James Strange And Paul Williams
There are plenty of other books and pocket guides related to pollinators! Here are some great options:
- Butterflies & Pollinators: A Folding Pocket Guide to Familiar Species By James Kavanagh, Raymond Leung (Illustrator)
- 100 Plants To Feed The Bees from The Xerces Society
- Pollinator Gardens by Nick Rebman
- The Beekeeper’s Bible: Bees, Honey, Recipes, & Other Home Uses by Richard Jones, Sharon Sweeney-Lynch
- The Way of the Hive: A Honey Bee’s Story by Jay Hosler (a great graphic novel for curious kids!)
The Pacific Northwest Bumblebee Atlas
The PNW Bumblebee Atlas is a collaboration between the Departments of Fish and Wildlife for Washington, Oregon, and Idaho and the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation. It’s relies on citizen scientists as a way to track and conserve the bumblebees in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho! There are several ways to participate but to start, set up a Bumble Bee Watch account.
Zoos and Butterfly Exhibits
Before Covid-19, there were a few places in the northwest where you could see a plethora of butterflies. The Molbak’s Butterfly Garden at the Woodland Park Zoo and the Pacific Science Center’s Tropical Butterfly Exhibit are both great places in Seattle! Unfortunately, both are temporarily closed to the public because of the pandemic. The Oregon Zoo also has plenty of pollinator activities and exhibits, like the insect zoo (temporarily closed) and wildlife garden. And about two and a half hours away from Portland is the Elkton Community Education Center, which has a butterfly pavilion, flower gardens, and native plant nursery.
For those in Canada, the Victoria Butterfly Gardens on Vancouver Island is a gorgeous and wonderful way to interact with all sorts of animals, including pollinators like butterflies.
For those who aren’t able to visit a butterfly exhibit at the moment, there are some virtual ways to learn about these insects! The American Museum of Natural History, for example, has a virtual field trip to the Butterfly Conservatory and for classrooms/other groups, the Victoria Butterfly Pavilion has several distance learning programs for different grades!
These suggestions are exactly that – suggestions for ways you and others in your life can learn about pollinators. The Covid-19 pandemic has certainly changed things over the last year and a half (ish) and while there are some costs with a few of the activities mentioned, there are plenty of low cost, free, and socially distanced ways to get involved. Libraries, for example, around the country are working in some sort of capacity and in addition to books they have great resources like DVDs and magazines on all sorts of topics.
If you happen to try any of the suggestions listed here, let me know how it goes in the comments!