Bees and Butterflies: Celebrating the Small and Mighty

Pollinator Week 2016 at the Forest Service Southern Research Station

About 30 people visited the SRS People’s Garden during National Pollinator Week. Visitors watched pollinators in action and talked to Forest Service and Master Gardener volunteers about how to sustain pollinators and how to create pollinator gardens of their own.
About 30 people visited the SRS People’s Garden during National Pollinator Week. Visitors watched pollinators in action and talked to Forest Service and Master Gardener volunteers about how to sustain pollinators and how to create pollinator gardens of their own.

Bees, beetles, butterflies, and other creatures shuttle pollen between flowers in the vital process of pollination. Without pollinators, most flowering plants would be unable to reproduce, and life as we know it would cease.

The U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station (SRS) recently celebrated National Pollinator Week in North Carolina by hosting a garden tour in Asheville and participating in a pollinator exhibition in Research Triangle Park. Both events were held on June 22, and were free and open to the public.

In Asheville, the pollinator garden was toured by almost 30 gardeners, students, children, and other members of the community. The tour was self-guided, although SRS staff and Extension Master Gardeners of Buncombe County were available to answer questions, explain the pollinator-friendly design principles behind the garden, and point out new features of the garden.

SRS staff and the master gardeners set up tables in the garden and distributed books and fact sheets about pollinators, information on how to make bee hotels, and pollinator-friendly gardening strategies. The Asheville Design Center also presented information about an educational bee hotel that architecture students will be building for the pollinator garden at University of North Carolina Asheville.

The SRS pollinator garden was established in 2009 as part of the USDA People’s Garden program, and over the years, the master gardeners, along with SRS volunteers and community members, have worked hard to transform the once barren strip of land into a flourishing pollinator garden. “I visited the Station in 1994,” says Beverly Jewell, one of the tour participants. “The difference is amazing.”

In Research Triangle Park, scientists and staff with the SRS Forest Economics and Policy group had a booth at a larger pollinator exhibition called Birds, Butterflies, Bees and Blooms. The event was sponsored by the Research Triangle Park Foundation, the Wildlife Habitat Council, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

More than 50 people stopped by the SRS booth to talk to the volunteers, plant flower seeds, and get educational materials about pollinators. Other booths shared information about installing pollinator gardens, citizen science programs for pollinators, a Monarch Waystation poster display, native plants species, bird friendly habitats, the Milkweed for Monarch Project, wildlife conservation planning, research and specimens, native bee displays, and the local master garden program.

National Pollinator Week was initiated in 2007 by unanimous U.S. Senate vote, and celebrates the valuable ecosystem services provided by bees, birds, butterflies, and beetles while making people aware of declines in pollinator health and abundance. Pollinators need our help as much as we need theirs – habitat loss, misuse of pesticides, and diseases are causing many species to decline.

For more information, email Sarah Farmer at sfarmer02@fs.fed.us.

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