When you talk about pollinators, most Americans think “honey bees.” While honey bees are important pollinators and producers of that magical golden liquid, our native pollinators are essential to our environment.
We have quite an array of native pollinators including: bees, flies, wasps, beetles, butterflies and moths, all contributing to the health of our ecosystems. Native bees are the most important group of native pollinators, with approximately 4,000 species of native bees in North America. These native bees are the unsung heroes of our environment and many are highly efficient pollinators. It takes only 250 Orchard Mason Bees to pollinate an acre of an apple orchard. Compare that to an estimated 50,000 to 100,000 honey bees needed to do the same job.
A new book, Pollinators of Native Plants, by Heather Holm, sheds light on many of our native pollinators, and their interrelationships with native plants. Her book is an excellent companion to The Xerces Society Guide: Attracting Native Pollinators. Holm delves much further into specific plant species and the specific insects which pollinate them.
The book is divided in four main sections: Pollination, Pollinators, Pollinator Conservation and Native Plant-Insect Interactions (further divided into basic habitat types). Entries in the Plant-Insect section provide the following information for each plant: flowering period, habitat, range in the U.S., overall plant and flower characteristics, complementary plants, and of course, many of the pollinators which utilize the plant. The accompanying photos show what the respective flowers and pollinators look like – very helpful to those of us trying to figure out what insects are foraging on our plants.
Whether you are a naturalist, a native gardener, or a vegetable gardener trying to increase crop yield, Pollinators of Native Plants is a very useful resource and a worthwhile addition to your book collection.