They are small but mighty important to humans and food production, plant reproduction, life – pollinators.

Bumblebees are important pollinators. TW/MDP

Bumblebees are important pollinators – seen here on Joe Pye weed. TW/MDP

Pollinators play a vital role for the world environment, agriculture, and gardeners everywhere. In Connecticut there are 1,488 registered beekeepers with 7,416 honey bee hives registered with the Office of the State Entomologist.

“Honey bee pollination provides at least $13.8 million in service value to the orchards in the state,” estimates Dr. Kirby Stafford, of the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station (CAES). The mission of the agency is to “develop, advance, and disseminate scientific knowledge, improve agricultural productivity and environmental quality, protect plants, and enhance human health and well-being through research for the benefit of Connecticut residents and the nation.”

“There are currently 349 documented species of wild bees in the State of Connecticut” noted Dr. Kimberly Stoner, based on a scientific paper currently in press, identifying new state records for many bee species. Many crops, such as pumpkin and squash, are primarily dependent on these native bees for pollination. Dr. Stoner held a workshop on “Successfully Establishing Plants for Pollinators” earlier this year that was attended by over 120 participants. The CAES website includes a “Pollinator Information” portal with links to fact sheets and other publications on protecting pollinators from pesticides, and planting flowers for bees in Connecticut, and also includes materials from the speakers at the workshop.

In addition, the state’s beekeepers also produced 155,991 pounds of honey from 227 operations valued at $609,000 according to the USDA National Agriculture Statistic Service’s 2012 census of agriculture.

The direct link to the official portal is linked here. For a detailed CAES PDF about choosing species to plant and encourage, here is the link.

For more about finding plants to grow, see this link to the Pollinator Partnership free resources guide based on where you live.