Michigan bees, butterflies and other pollinating bugs on the decline

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Pollinator gardens can help reverse the slide

Much of the food, drink and medicine we consume begins the journey to us when pollen moves from flower to flower by insects and animals called pollinators – thereby creating fruits, nuts, vegetables and seeds. According to a recent Detroit Free Press post, disappearing bee populations are causing concern among Michigan farmers, noting that bee colonies fell 58 percent on average from 2015 to 2016. Other pollinators, including butterflies, birds and bats are also on the decline.

It’s a troubling trend, so much so that for the tenth year-in-a-row the U.S. Department of Agriculture has proclaimed a National Pollinator Week noting “it is critically important to encourage the protection of pollinators; increase the quality and amount of pollinator habitat and forage; reverse pollinator losses and help restore populations to healthy levels.”

Wednesday in Ypsilanti, Michigan, as part of National Pollinator Week, the Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission brought 30, Day Camp youth to Rolling Hills County Park to learn about native plants and pollinators.

The event, sponsored by Wildlife Habitat Council (WHC) member NEXUS Gas Transmission, saw Washtenaw County day campers work with NEXUS and DTE Energy employee volunteers to plant more than 700 native plants around Spring Pond. They also removed brush and non-native species to improve the habitat for pollinators and other wildlife.

Volunteers planted native Michigan plants, “which are going to benefit our native pollinators more,” says Allison Krueger, WCPARC’s stewardship manager. “We’re looking to get bio diversity up. This project will help to improve resources available to pollinators and other wildlife using the habitats surrounding Spring Pond.”

The non-profit Pollinator Partnership underscores the importance of pollinators with these points:

  • Worldwide, roughly 1,000 plants grown for food, beverages, fibers, spices, and medicines need to be pollinated by animals to produce the goods on which we depend.
  • In the United States, pollination by honey bees, native bees, and other insects produces $40 billion worth of products annually.

Wednesday’s National Pollinator Week event is one in a series of improvements that NEXUS is sponsoring at Rolling Hills County Park—to restore a vibrant native ecosystem and attract outdoor enthusiasts.

NEXUS Gas Transmission, a joint venture between DTE Energy and Spectra Energy Partners, an Enbridge company, is a proposed 255-mile natural gas pipeline, running from eastern Ohio to southeastern Michigan, that would support the growing demand for clean-burning natural gas. Access to low-cost, nearby natural gas will also aid DTE Energy in making its planned carbon reduction goals.