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The Q? Blog

Celebrate Pollinators, the Real Party Animals

by Lauren Tuzzolino -- Jun 10, 2015
Photo of Lauren Tuzzolino

Lauren Tuzzolino is a Museum Specialist and Educator in the Butterfly Pavilion and Insect Zoo. In particular, she loves moths and butterflies. Lauren takes...

Bees and other pollinators are the focus of National Pollinator Week, June 15-21, 2015. Photo by Rosa Pineda, Smithsonian Institution.
Bees and other pollinators are the focus of National Pollinator Week, June 15-21, 2015. Photo by Rosa Pineda, Smithsonian Institution.

No celebration would be as festive or delicious without the contributions of pollinators and the plants they pollinate. The importance of the nectaring visits made by bees, butterflies, beetles, bats, birds, flies, and other small animals as they go from flower to flower, carrying and dispersing pollen, is evident in one-third of our daily diets. Salads (kale, asparagus, cucumbers), fruits (apples, oranges, bananas, strawberries), main dishes like eggplant parmesan (eggplant, tomatoes, onions, basil), desserts like chocolate cake (cacao), peach cobbler (peaches), pumpkin pie (pumpkin, nutmeg, cloves), and wine (grapes) are just a few examples. The Smithsonian invites you to join us in celebrating and learning more about your role in the environment and the conservation efforts taking place during National Pollinator Week, June 15-21, 2015.
Although it is a celebration, the reasons behind such a week are actually dire and very relevant to the environment, the agricultural economy, and the well-being of pollinators and ourselves. Pollinators are stressed due to many factors, including habitat loss and pesticides, and their populations are declining. The time is now to spread the word and get involved with a citizen science project, such as planting a pollinator garden (or a window box for the urban dweller), or committing to buying organic and local produce. Every day we benefit from the fruitful work done by these animals and plants — now it’s our turn to give back. So, the next time you take a sip of your morning coffee or vanilla latte (both coffee and vanilla are products of pollination), or dip into that guacamole (avocadoes) at a party, thank a pollinator and start the conversation. Because what would life be like without them?

Come join us at the National Museum of Natural History for the programs listed below or check out a pollinator event near you.
Tuesday, June 16, 11AM-1PM - Pollination Party at Smithsonian Gardens
Where - Butterfly Habitat Garden, outdoors (East side of Museum at 9th Street)
Join Smithsonian Gardens, the University of Maryland PollinaTerps, and American University Public History Graduate Students in the Butterfly Habitat Garden for a celebration of pollination.  Enjoy the beauty of the garden and see pollination in action, learn how to create your own pollinator friendly habitat, explore the history of beekeeping, and participate in fun, family friendly activities staged throughout the garden.
Thursday, June 18, 1-3PM - Experts Are In
Where - Butterflies + Plants: Partners in Evolution, 2nd floor

Gimme Some Sugar, Baby – Mammal Pollinators
Bees don’t have the monopoly on pollinating plants. Find out which mammals help keep our planet green and fruitful and see some of the specimens that we have behind-the-scenes in the Division of Mammals with museum specialist Esther Langan!
Two Heliconias, One Hummingbird Pollinator (with Two Forms)
The Lesser Antilles islands have two native Heliconia plant species that have one sole pollinator—the Purple-throated Carib, Eulampis jugularis. The distinct sexual dimorphism in this hummingbird allows the males to pollinate one Heliconia species and the female the other species. Join Smithsonian museum specialist Ida Lopez from the Department of Botany and learn more.
Why We Need Native Bees
Where - Insect Zoo, 2nd floor
Join entomologist Sam Droege of the U.S. Geological Survey's Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab to learn about current research activities. Find out why we need native bees and what you can do to help in the conservation effort. Take a closer look at specimens from the Museum's collection
Friday, June 19, 1-3PM - Experts Are In
Photo of conservation biologist Gary Krupnick at Pollinator Week 2014.Carnivorous Plants Don't Eat Their Pollinators
Where - Butterflies + Plants: Partners in Evolution, 2nd floor
Carnivorous plants are well-adapted to the environment of nutrient-poor soils by feeding on insects. Come see a selection of plant specimens from the U.S. National Herbarium and learn from Smithsonian conservation biologist Gary Krupnick how carnivorous plants attract both pollinator and prey.
Beetle Pollinators in the African Savannah
Where - Insect Zoo, 2nd floor
What do flower beetles have to do with rhinos, elephants, and giraffes?  Come meet Smithsonian entomologist Jonathan Mawdlsey and learn about the beetle pollinators of South Africa's Kruger National Park and the important role they play in maintaining habitat diversity for large herbivores in an African savannah ecosystem.
Sunday, June 21, 1-4PM - Bumble Bee Blitz
Where - Q?rius Lab, ground floor
Bumble bees make the world a better place, and so can you. In celebration of Pollinator Week, come take part in the Bumble Bee Blitz! Our Department of Entomology needs your help sharing the Museum’s collection. They photographed over 44,000 bumble bee specimens! Now we need to transfer all the label information to searchable text. Help us transcribe these bumble bee records with Dr. Seán Brady and a swarm of other bee geeks, so the world can use the information to better serve these important pollinators. Bee novices are welcome.
Get details and register. More details to follow upon registering (free). If you have a laptop, please bring it with you on the day of the event for your personal use in the transcription effort. For participants who do not have a laptop, the Museum will have a limited number available for use.

Sunday, June 21, 2-4PM - Expert Is In - The Buzz About Bees: The Importance of Bee Diversity to your Backyard Garden and Kitchen Table
Where - Q?rius, ground floor
Did you know that there are over 20,000 species of bees worldwide, and more than 4,000 living in North America alone?  Many bee species are critical pollinators, and it is estimated that one bite out of every three depends on bees and other pollinators. Research entomologist Seán Brady will discuss the importance and evolution of bee diversity, display examples of many of the bee species living right here in Washington D.C., and answer all your bee-related questions.

Categories: Q?rius News
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