NATIONAL POLLINATOR WEEK IS JUNE 15-21; POLLINATOR DINNER IS JUNE 16
Saint Louis Zoo will host educational activities and events
One out of every three bites of food we eat depends on pollinators. Honeybees, bumblebees and other insects, birds and small mammals pollinate over 90 percent of the planet’s flowering plants and one third of human food crops.
June 15-21, 2015, has been declared “National Pollinator Week” to recognize the importance of pollinators for the health of ecosystems as well as our own survival.
During this week, the Saint Louis Zoo’s Monsanto Insectarium will host keeper chats and demonstrations on attracting bees to gardens, identifying different types of bees, beekeeping and more. Cafe Kudu will offer daily specials featuring food provided by pollinators.
The Zoo is offering a special “Pollinator Dinner” on Tuesday, June 16 from 6 to 9 p.m. in The Living World at the Zoo. Guest speaker for the evening is Mace Vaughan, Pollinator Conservation Program Co-Director for the Xerces Society. His talk will focus on how bee, butterflies and other pollinators are leading the way to a more sustainable future on the farm. Attendees will receive milkweed plants for their gardens to support pollinators and the endangered Monarch migration.
The evening kicks off at 6 p.m. with a honey tasting, informational booths and cash bar serving honey bourbon, honey beer and hard cider. The farm-to-table-inspired gourmet dinner buffet includes salads, sides, main courses, dessert and mead prepared with ingredients provided by pollinators, such as strawberries, blackberries, apples and walnuts, a variety of vegetables, honey and more.
Reservations are $31.50 for adults and $20 for children ages 12 and under. Reservations can be made by calling (314) 646-4897 by noon on June 10. Advanced registration required. See menu and more information at www.stlzoo.org/PollinatorDinner. Proceeds benefit the Zoo.
The Saint Louis Zoo WildCare Institute Center for Native Pollinator Conservation focuses on the importance and diversity of native pollinators for the maintenance and survival of wildlife, ecosystems and agriculture.
The activities of the Center include surveys of native bee populations, education and outreach programs, producing the first guide to the Bumble Bees of Illinois and Missouri with the University of Illinois, and developing additional bee field guides. Bee surveys are being conducted in the St. Louis area to examine bee diversity and abundance and identify possible areas of conservation concern. Zoo researchers are also surveying bee populations in Forest Park’s restored prairies in cooperation with Forest Park Forever and St. Louis Parks Department. The Center is collaborating with Missouri Department of Agriculture, Missouri Department of Transportation and the Xerces Society to develop Pollinator Roadside gardens within Missouri and is working with Gateway Greening and other community garden groups to help them develop best pollinator practices and educate the public about the importance of protecting pollinators.
There are over 20,000 species of bees in the world and 425 species of bees in Missouri alone. That is more than all species of birds and mammals put together, according to Ed Spevak, Curator of Invertebrates at the Zoo and Director of the Center for Native Pollinator Conservation.
“Many of the more than 4,000 native bees in North America are actually far better pollinators than honey bees for crops like alfalfa, clover, tomatoes, peppers, blueberries, squashes and more,” said Spevak. “But more importantly, they are invaluable to the functioning of many habitats and to the birds and other animals that feed on the seeds, nuts and fruits from the labors of these pollinators. Unfortunately, a number of native bees are disappearing. Everyone from local homeowners to farmers to conservationists can help the bees as well as other pollinators by growing a wildflower garden, protecting habitat and reducing our use of pesticides and herbicides. Everyone can participate in their conservation.”
The Saint Louis Zoo’s website now offers directions on how to build bee nesting boxes, in addition to tips on how to plant pollinator gardens and identification guides for Missouri and Illinois bees. For more information, visit www.stlzoo.org/pollinators.