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Celebrating Pollinator Week with Library Resources

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Earlier this week, the US Department of Agriculture recognized June 20-26 as National Pollinator Week. In honor of the week and of pollinators everywhere, we’re sharing some resources for learning about them together from around the Library.

An illustration of a bee settling on a purple clover flower
Bee on clover; Narymskii krai, [1930-1936]; Original image at Institute of History of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences
Books: For kids, “Up in the Garden, Down in the Dirt” by Kate Messner (ages 2-5; Chronicle Books, 2017) is a great place to start discussing the relationship between plants and insects in a garden, but there are many others! Here are a few more suggestions, drawn from the Library’s general collections and books available in the Young Readers Center & Programs Lab:

  • “Animals Help Plants” by Mary Lindeen (ages 8-12; Norwood House Press, 2018)
  • “Monarch and Milkweed” by Helen Frost (ages 3-8;  Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2008)
  • “The Best Beekeeper of Lalibela: A Tale from Africa” by Cristina Kessler (ages 6-8; Holiday House, 2006)
  • “The Buzz on Bees: Why Are They Disappearing” by Shelley Rotner (ages 5-8; Holiday House, 2010)
  • “Bees: A Honeyed History” by Piotr Socha (ages 7-11; Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2017)

“Bugs, Bogs, Bats, and Books: Sharing Nature with Children Through Reading” by Kathleen T. Isaacs (Huron Street Press, 2014) also provides suggestions for other books on the natural world to read with children, along with activity suggestions.

Parents can find some useful background information on pollinators and pollination from the Library’s many blogs. On Folklife Today from the Library’s American Folklife Center, folklorist Stephanie Hall explores the work of beekeepers in “Filling the Cornucopia.” She writes:

Honey bees are essential to the pollination of about one third of the plants that humans use for food. Native North American plants may be pollinated by bats, hummingbirds, native bees, moths, butterflies, and other native insects, but most fruits and vegetables brought from Europe are dependent on European honey bees. Honey bees are among the oldest and smallest of domesticated animals. Consequently, the domesticated European or Western bee has been spread to most parts of the world, in many cases transported by human beings…

Parents may also be interested in a past program at the Library, Bees, Pollination, and Climate Change. As NASA scientist Wayne Esaias notes at 8:26 “About 3/4 of flowering plants are dependent upon pollinators to help them procreate. We don’t get fruit unless the flowers get pollinated. Most of terrestrial ecosystem are built around this interaction, the plant-pollinator interaction.”

In “Butterflies, Beetles, and Bees, Oh My! National Pollinator Week,” librarians from the Science, Technology and Business Division take a deep dive into pollination. They share the “dos” of starting a pollinator garden, as well as the “don’ts”—such as reminding you to avoid pesticides. Reference specialist Ashley Cuffia writes,

Pollination is the process of pollen being moved from the male part of the flower (stamen) to the female part of a plant (stigma). The spread of pollen has to happen for plants to be fertilized, so that they can then create the fruits and seeds that we eat, along with helping to create other new plants. Pollination is a two way street for pollinators. The plants feed the pollinators with nectar or other protein rich pollen and in turn, the pollinators spread pollen to help fertilize the plants…

Field with beehives under blue sky
Boxes containing bees, for pollation [sic], beside a field in Rio Grande County, Colorado, 2016; Carol A. Highsmith, photographer; Prints and Photographs Division
Gardening: As Ashley writes, “One way that you can help out your local pollinator ecosystem is by creating something as big as a pollinator garden or something as simple as planting a few outdoor flowering plants. Pollinator gardens are not only a beautiful addition to your yard, but also are a boon to the local pollinators.” Check out Ashley’s post for more suggestions on creating your pollinator garden. Keep in mind her helpful tips about using a variety of plants, as well as adding larval host plants that help caterpillars thrive on their way to becoming butterflies.

Other activity ideas:

  • Go on a nature walk and look for pollinators in your neighborhood! This activity kit can help you stop and observe the world around you.
  • On a rainy day, celebrate inside with some music – this recording from the National Jukebox is a place to start, but this blog post from the Music Division has many more buzz-worthy bee songs!


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