Pollinators are animals that move pollen grains between two flowers of the same species, allowing fruit and seeds to grow and plants to reproduce.  Insects, birds, bats and other small mammals can all be pollinators.  Without pollinators, many flowering plants would not be able to produce fruits and seeds, which would not only bad for the environment, but also bad for us because we depend on so many of these fruits, seeds and plants for food, fiber, and medicines.

Where They Live: 
About 200,000 species of animals act as pollinators all over the world.

What They Eat:
Most often, pollinators visit plants to dine on nectar (sweet liquid) produced by the plant or on the pollen itself.  In the process, some of the pollen sticks to the pollinator, and when the pollinator moves to another flower, it falls off – this is when pollination happens, which enables new fruits and seeds to grow.

Test Your Knowledge! (answers below)

  1. Bees are attracted to brightly colored flowers with sweet scents. How fast can a bee fly?
    a. About as fast as a baby crawls (.35 miles per hour)
    b. About as fast as a person walks (3 miles per hour)
    c. About as fast as a person runs (7 miles per hour)
    d. About as fast as a person bikes (10 miles per hour)
  1. Which type of animal pollinated the first flowers at the time of the dinosaurs more than 140 million years ago?
    a. beetles        b. hummingbirds      c. moths     d. rats

Answer each of the following questions with True or False:

  1. Without pollinators, there would be no chocolate.
  2. Minnesota’s apple and blueberry crops are 100% reliant on insect pollinators.
  3. There are no pollinators on the endangered species list.

Save Pollinators!
Follow these simple steps to make your yard and garden friendly to pollinators.

  1. Plant Milkweed. Not only is it a source of food for monarch butterfly caterpillars, it’s also a source of nectar for adult butterflies and many other pollinators.
  2. Build a bee hotel by drilling holes in a block of wood. This offers habitat to many bee species that nest in holes.
  3. Use less chemicals in the garden. Research the many natural ways to repel pests in the garden to avoid using chemical sprays that are dangerous to pollinators.

Pollinator Match Up
Download this activity sheet to match the pollinator to its favorite flower.