PIERCETON — Pollinators like honeybees can be beneficial in many ways, from producing honey to pollinating many different kinds of crops.
Tuesday evening, June 28, area residents gathered at Koinonia Environmental Center, Pierceton, where representatives from the Kosciusko County Soil and Water Conservation District, Farm Service Agency and other local agencies, as well as a local beekeeper and greenhouse owner were all on hand to discuss different aspects of pollinators and pollinator habitat.
Presenters spoke about different types of plants pollinators are most drawn to and how to establish habitat that will attract and sustain them. Afterwards, those gathered had a chance to observe a pollinator habitat in the making and to see prairie land planted with native species.
Scott Fetters, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, spoke about the first steps to establishing pollinator habitat, including site selection and preparation, checking the soil to see what will grow best there, repeatedly killing all existing vegetation to get rid of invasive species and, finally, planting native seeds. It takes several years, he said, for pollinator habitat to be thoroughly established.
There are many threats to pollinators like honeybees and over the last several years, their populations have been declining. Though honeybees are not native to Indiana or the United States, they play a major role in pollinating the many crops produced here. For this reason, the FSA, SWCD and other agencies encourage homeowners and landowners to plant species that will attract bees and butterflies, which also help pollinate.
Examples given of crops that rely on bees for pollinators included strawberries, soybeans, pumpkins and melons, however there are many more. Fruit trees also rely on bees for pollination.
The event was also a celebration of the 30th year for the Conservation Reserve Program, which gives landowners the option to set aside cropland as wildlife habitat. The FSA pays a yearly rental fee and CRP contracts last 10 to 15 years. To learn more about CRP, what it involves and how to apply, click here.