WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW)-- National Pollinator Week kicked off on Monday, with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection's asking homeowners to create a welcoming home for bees. Wisconsin is home to around 400 species of native bees, native flies and monarch butterflies all of which help pollinate our food source. Donna Gilson with DATCP said sadly though pollinator numbers are dwindling, so people need to be extra cautious.
"In Wisconsin we have, we're one of the remaining habitats for a little critter called the rusty patch bumble bee, which actually is a pollinator that is on the federal endangered species list. That's the only one that's on the endangered species list. But we do have a population of them, or populations of them in Wisconsin. So, that's one good reason to just be careful right there," said Gilson.
This is due to a lack of attractive plants, invasive plants and mostly pesticides killing pollinators. To help repopulate bees, and other pollinators the DATCP said to try and have at least three species of flowers, herbs, fruits and vegetables, trees or shrubs blooming in your yard from fall to spring. They also said to let parts of your yard become uncultivated, where dandelions and clovers can grow as they provide pollen and nectar early in the season for pollinators. The uncultivated brush also becomes a great home for pollinators as well as they like to live in old rodent burrows, tree cavities and abandoned bird nests.
"You don't have to have a huge garden or a whole farm if you just have a little postage stamp lot in the middle of Milwaukee you can take some steps to help out pollinators."
Gilson also said to watch out for the “bee advisory box” on pesticides that could hurt pollinators and to make sure you know what is in your yard before using products to destroy pests or diseases.
While crops like corn and soybeans don't rely on insects for pollination, fruit crops do. Today Wisconsin leads the nation in cranberry production, and without pollinators the state would lose three-quarter of its crop. In 2017 Wisconsin lost 22.3 million dollars due to crop loss from under-pollination