Can you imagine life without some of your favorite foods? Pollinators are integral to the growth of 75 to 95% of all the Earth’s plants that need pollination to reproduce. (Ollerton et al., 2011). Without pollinators, many foods including coffee and chocolate could be in jeopardy!
What Are Pollinators?
Animals responsible for pollination include bees, butterflies, moths, beetles, bats, and birds. Beginning in the 19th century pollinator populations have decreased due to loss of habitat, loss of nesting locations, and increased use of pesticides (Nichols et al., 2019).
Bring Pollinators to your Garden
On June 22nd, Juliette Olshock the Sustainable Landcare Program Coordinator at Phipps Conservatory shared her expertise on all things pollinator garden! This class will give you ideas for creating your own pollinator garden, including how to start a micro meadow and what pollinator plants to add to an existing perennial garden. Hear about the importance of native host plants and why they are necessary for supporting butterflies. Learn the plants that support growing butterflies, attract hummingbirds and feed bees all season long.
Check out the slides to find all of Juliette’s helpful tips and resources!
Pitt Pollinator Efforts
The University of Pittsburgh recognizes the importance of pollinators. As part of our Landscape & Ecology goals, we are not only working to protect existing pollinators, but to create spaces on campus where pollinator communities can grow and thrive. As part of the Pitt Sustainability Plan, we are committed increasing tree canopy 50% and replacing 15% of lawn area with indigenous and adapted plant species by 2030. Additionally, by 2024 our goal is to maintain 75% of landscaped areas in accordance with Northeast Organic Farming Association Standards, ensuring a healthy environment for plants and pollinators alike.
Pollinator Habitat Committee
In an effort to further the goals of the Pitt Sustainability Plan, the University has created a diverse and interdisciplinary Pollinator Habitat Advisory Committee to help make our campus environment more supportive of healthy, native pollinator populations.
A subcommittee of the Chancellor’s Advisory Council on Sustainability, the University of Pittsburgh’s Pollinator Habitat Advisory Committee’s goals are to:
- Create and advise on the implementation a Campus Pollinator Habitat Plan, which sets guidelines for plant choices and landscaping practices
- Lead the University’s annual Bee Campus USA application through the Xerces Society.
Bee Campus Certification
Pitt Sustainability received the Bee Campus USA designation through the nonprofit Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation in 2020. In response to global declines in pollinator populations, Xerces’ Bee Campus USA helps bring awareness to the importance of pollinators when it comes to the health of ecosystems and encourage communities to protect their habitats.
In part, Bee Campus affiliates commit to supporting pollinators by establishing native-plant habitats, providing nesting sites, reducing the use of pesticides, and providing pollinator educational opportunities through service, campus signage, and online content.
New Posvar Passage Pollinator Garden
The Posvar Passage Pollinator Garden was designed by Pitt students and planted
in June 2021 in partnership with Pitt’s Grounds department.
This garden is home to a variety of different native plant species that have symbiotic relationships with the pollinators in Western Pennsylvania. The plants have bloom times from spring to fall, supporting pollinators year round. The different flower colors and shapes also attract a plethora of different species- from bees to birds to bats to butterflies.
Campus Bee Houses
Students built 7 bee houses on campus for native solitary bees, getting guidance from pollinator research conducted by Pitt Biology professor Dr. Tia-Lynn Ashman. The use of correct materials and proper sizing are crucial for pollinator health; our bee houses are constructed out of wood, filled with cardboard and bamboo tubes to provide nesting space, and then placed atop 6′ posts. Find Pitt’s bee houses and keep an eye out for informational signs that explain the importance of pollinators around the houses.
How Can You Hep Protect Pollinators?
Pollinator Friendly Gardens
- Learn about local plants in your region that are pollinator friendly.
- Install pollinator homes in your yard such as bat houses or bee houses.
- Avoid using harmful pesticides
- Set up water for wildlife
Get Involved with Pollinator Protection
- Look for pollinator groups or gardens in your area and see how you can get involved
- Spend time outside and learn about pollinators in your backyard!