Pollinators are creatures that help plants reproduce by spreading a powdery material called pollen among flowers of the same species when the sticky pollen attaches to their bodies—many pollinators have evolved to be extra “hairy” so even more pollen will stick to them. Animals like bees, butterflies, moths, birds, and bats pollinate a majority of fruits and vegetables (i.e. non-grain crops) used in agriculture. But pollinators don’t just help plants; they rely on plants to survive and reproduce, sourcing critical nutrients from energy-rich nectar and protein-rich pollen.
Meet the Pollinators
There are many different types of pollinators in Massachusetts—bees are best-known for their pollinating prowess, but other insects such as wasps, butterflies, moths, and some flies and beetles, as well as birds like hummingbirds, are important pollinators, too. Nectar-feeding bats also pollinate plants, but are not typically found in Massachusetts—our native bats are mostly insectivores.
Read more about pollinators and what you can do to help them on our website and enjoy these five photos of pollinators that you might spot hovering around the flowers in your neighborhood this summer.
Originally imported from Europe for their prized honey, beeswax, and pollination abilities, much of our honeybee population lives in beekeepers’ hives, and the rest build nests in tree cavities and in the eaves and walls of buildings. Each hive consists of a queen (who lays the eggs), female workers (who gather food and maintain the nest), and male drones (who mate with new queens).
You may see a swarm on a tree trunk or an exterior wall of a building. There’s no reason for alarm—the swarm will move on until it finds a new nesting spot. Stay indoors and watch this fascinating behavior from a window.
Bees provide invaluable services to ecosystems and sustain our food production systems, so it’s important for people to coexist with them. Be aware that if a swarm enters a building or nests in a location that conflicts with people, pest-control companies will not remove it. However, local beekeepers will usually be happy to collect it. For a list of beekeepers, contact your local pest-control company.
Here are five photos of helpful honeybees at work. Visit our website to learn more about Bees & Wasps or to find an upcoming program on Bees & Beekeeping to learn about bees, honey, and gardening for pollinators at one of our wildlife sanctuaries.