Forget about “Shark Week,” pollinator week is where it’s at.
In 2006, with the unanimity usually reserved for the renaming of post offices, the entire U.S. Senate decided that a week in June would be dedicated to the celebration of pollen-transferring insects, such as bees. The resolution boldly declared: “The Senate recognizes the partnership role that pollinators play in agriculture and healthy ecosystems” and “encourages the people of the United States to observe the week with appropriate ceremonies and activities.”
Pollinators are essential to the agricultural economy, responsible for “$15 billion in increased crop value each year,” according to USDA. The bees proliferate pollen, the sperm of the plant world, to spur new plant seed growth. The almond-growing industry in California alone requires 1.4 million bee colonies a year for production. But in recent years bee colonies have been collapsing for unknown reasons. “Annual losses [of bee colonies] from the winter of 2006-2011 averaged about 33 percent each year,” USDA reports. The conservation of pollinators is the conservation of agribusiness.
In the spirit of the celebrations, the U.S. Geological Survey’s Bee Inventory and Monitor Lab has published the following high-resolution, macro-focused images of bee and wasp species from across the globe. Though people may fear their stings, they are really beautiful creatures. See below.
(Photos and edited captions are from USGS’s Flickr account.)