Earth Week Day 3: Pollinators

Consider insects gross and bees scary if you like; there’s no denying that pollinators are an essential part of Montana’s natural ecosystem. But did you know that pollinators are in danger, and that you can help them out as soon as this spring? Today we’re talking about the importance of pollinators, why and how they’re in decline, and how the conservation district’s pollinator initiative can give you the tools necessary to help their populations recover!

Why Pollinators Matter And Why They’re In Trouble

There are countless reasons why pollinators are absolutely essential to our natural ecosystems and the general survival of humanity among other species, but let’s start with the obvious: Without pollinators, many plants would simply not be able to grow, including several plants and food crops that humans and animals need to be able to survive. That’s to say nothing of all the insects, soils, waters, etc. that also rely on these plants. So yeah, if you never thought that bees, butterflies, beetles, and pollinating vertebrates such as birds and bats were that important to your personal wellbeing, you’d better think again! …There’s a lot of pollinators whose name’s start with the letter “B”, huh?

But the benefits of pollinators don’t stop there! Research has also suggested that pollinators could play a key role in combatting air pollution, because soils are made healthier as a byproduct of pollination and healthy soils can store more carbon in the ground, reducing carbon emissions in the air. That’s not even mentioning the broader roles that all pollinators serve in their local ecosystems and food chains, their increased presences on farms, and much more. To put it simply, pollinators are foundational to life on earth.

So why and how are they in trouble? Well, recent environmental changes have been negatively impacting the area in a big way, and pollinators are one of the groups that has been harmed the most by these environmental changes. Drought, rising temperatures and disease have all risen in southwest Montana, and rising temperatures have been especially harmful to pollinators. Also, the introduction of invasive species of plants and pollinators, in addition to pesticide usage, have all harmed western bumblebees in a big way, as they have to compete with nonnative species more over a smaller selection of native plants. Overall, western bumblebee populations have declined by 60% in the last 20 years, and experts have predicted that they may decline further in the next 30 years if we stand by and continue to allow our environment to deteriorate. But with the help of resources such as our Pollinator Initiative program, we have no intentions of giving up on our precious pollinators.

How You Can Help! Pollinator Plants and RVCD’s Seed Mixes

As we mentioned earlier, a big cause of the decline of native pollinators is the rise of invasive plants that are hurting populations of native pollinator plants that are essential sources of food for local pollinators. The natural way to combat this issue and support native pollinators is to grow your own native pollinator plants! These plants are the ones that native pollinators have evolved to rely on for food, and providing more of them to the pollinators will allow their populations to flourish more than they have been able to in recent years.

If you’re looking for a good place to start planting native pollinator plants, then look no further than our own Pollinator Initiative, which provides community members with their own FREE pollinator plant seed mixes, all of which put an emphasis on a collection of plants that grow well together and support native pollinator species. There are three different seed mixes available, which you can see down below. The southwest Montana seed mix is comprised almost entirely of native plants, while the conservation seed mix is entirely nonnative seed mixes which will still be beneficial to our ecosystem and pollinators. Finally, the backyard seed mix is designed to be ideal for gardens, pots, and other small-scale plots of land. The contents of each seed mix is shown below.

How To Plant Pollinator Seeds

Our friends at the Gallatin Conservation District have provided a great document outlining the planting process for your Pollinator Seed Mix! It is attached below.

That’s a wrap for today! Give us a call at or (406) 842-5741 x 104 to order your own seed mixes today, protect our precious pollinators, and we’ll see you tomorrow for yet another day of celebrating the earth! Oh, and don’t forget to stop and thank some bugs for giving you food every now and then!