Celebrating World Bee Day
May 20 is World Bee Day – a chance to acknowledge the role of bees on our lives and our planet. While the number of all bee populations has declined over the last few decades, it continues to be concern because of the important role bees play as pollinators.
Many species of animal – including humans – depend on bees for their survival because their food source, including nuts, berries, seeds, and fruits, relies on insect pollination. Pollination not only makes food available for other organisms but also allows floral growth, which provides habitats for animals, including other insects and birds.
Wisconsin is home to roughly 500 species of native bees. Among the biggest threat to native bees is habitat loss. In 2017, the rusty-patched bumble bee was added to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service endangered species list, after a population decline of 87% since the late 1990s. The species is likely to be present in only 0.1% of its historical range, which includes Wisconsin.
Helping Increase Pollinator Habitat
At ATC, we’re doing our part to help bees and other pollinators. We developed a first-of-its-kind Pollinator Power Model to map and identify suitable pollinator habitat (e.g., meadows, pastureland, etc.) and gaps in pollinator pathways along our over 9,890 miles of transmission lines. This enables us to strategically enhance pollinator habitat in our service territory. We also use a specially-developed pollinator seed mix as part of our new and rebuild construction efforts.
Our Pollinator Habitat Program promotes vegetation that is both compatible with our vegetation management practices and provides habitat for pollinators, which use the utility corridor as a flight path. Since 2017, we’ve awarded approximately $45,000 to 10 entities to help them create pollinator habitats along our transmission corridor. One of those entities, the Village of Mount Pleasant, is working to improve native pollinator habitat along the Pike River Pathway where the rusty patched bumble bee has been was observed.
What You Can Do
We can all help bees and other pollinators by planting more native plants, like wild lupines, smooth blue asters and wild bergamot (also known as bee balm). In collaboration with nationally known gardening expert Melinda Myers, we developed two guides to identify vegetation that is similar to what we plant in our rights-of-way. These suggested native plants have deep root systems that will beautify your property and help attract bees, butterflies and birds. Visit atc-GrowSmart.com for resources and recommendations.