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Douglas County Ag in the Classroom teaches students about pollinators

Some scientists estimate that one out of every three bites of food we eat exists because of pollinators like bees and butterflies. Pollinators visit flowers and deposit pollen from different flowers. The plant uses this pollen to produce a fruit or seed. Many plants cannot reproduce without pollen carried to them by pollinators. Nuts, vegetables, alfalfa (used for hay), apples, cantaloupe, cranberries, pumpkins, chocolate, coffee, and sunflowers are dependent on bee pollination. Bees pollinate alfalfa and clover which is used to feed cattle – our milk and meat industries are tied to the bee population! 

Honeybees are not native to our land; they were imported from Europe. There are over 400 species of native bees in Illinois. These include bumblebees, carpenter bees, mason bees, mining bees, and many more. All pollinators are under stress due to a lack of habitat and food sources. Something we can do on a personal level is plant more flowers and leave more natural habitats where viable. Older students made small bee habitats to place outside. These bee “hotels” are designed for mason bees, a bee that is native to Illinois.

Younger students made bee puppets and learned how bees communicate by “dancing”. 

Remember when enjoying your dinner tonight, look at your plate to see which foods are there because of bees. Douglas County Ag Literacy is supported by Douglas County Farm Bureau, Douglas County Ag Center, and Illinois Ag in the Classroom.

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