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Why bees pollinate plants that don’t need it

Cross pollination—the moving of pollen from the flowers of one plant to the flowers of another—is usually accomplished by wind or animals. There are a few other vectors, including water and gravity, but wind and animals are the main ones. Many animals move pollen—including bats, birds, and butterflies—but bees of one species or another do […] Read more

Pollinators and vegetable gardens

Yesterday a reader asked if having a pollinator garden would help her vegetable garden. The answer to this is somewhat complex, depending on what you are trying to grow. There are general rules and exceptions. If you are growing any kind of cucurbit—including melons, squash, cucumbers, zucchini, and gourds—pollinators are absolutely essential. Some are notoriously […] Read more

What’s all the hype about pollinators?

“So what’s all the hype about pollinators, anyway? Doesn’t pollination just happen?” This question comes up frequently. Prior to the mid-1940s most pollination did “just happen.” The fields, woodlands, and roadsides at the perimeters of most farms were aflutter with all manner of pollinating animals. These included native bees as well as butterflies, moths, hummingbirds, […] Read more