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Celebrate Pollinator Week At The Saint Louis Zoo Pollinator Dinner June 20

Photo by Holly Shanks

National Pollinator Week, June 19-25, 2017, focuses on the importance of pollinators for the health of ecosystems as well as our own survival.

The Saint Louis Zoo has released information about its upcoming POLLINATOR DINNER. The popular annual event will feature a  special “Native Foods, Native Peoples and Native Pollinators” dinner focusing on the rich food and cultural history of Native Americans that native pollinators help provide. Also, exhibitor tables and displays about Native Americans, bees and other pollinators, food and agriculture, and gardening and habitat restoration.

Guest speaker is Jane Breckenridge, co-director of Tribal Environmental Action for Monarchs (TEAM). She will present her presentation of “Restoring the Connections: How Native Culture and Science Are Working Together to Create a New Model for Conservation.”

Registration is required for the June 20 event. The cost is $50 for adults (13 and older) and $25 for children. Proceeds help support the Saint Louis Zoo’s Wildcare Institute Center for Native Pollinator Conservation. More information or to register CLICK HERE

More from the Saint Louis Zoo release below.

One out of every three bites of food we eat depends on pollinators. Honeybees, bumblebees and other insects, birds and small mammals pollinate over 90 percent of the planet’s flowering plants and one-third of human food crops.

During Pollinator Week, the Saint Louis Zoo’s Monsanto Insectarium will have keeper chats and demonstrations on attracting bees to gardens, identifying different types of bees, beekeeping and more. Additionally, Cafe Kudu will offer daily specials featuring food provided by pollinators.

The Zoo also is offering a special Pollinator Dinner with the theme of native foods, native peoples and native pollinators from 6 to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, June 20 in The Living World at the Zoo. The menu focuses on the rich food and cultural history of Native Americans and proceeds will benefit the Zoo’s WildCare Institute Center for Native Pollinator Conservation. Space is limited and advanced reservations are required by calling (314) 646-4897 by noon on June 13. Tickets are $50 for adults and $25 for children ages 12 and under. More information is available at stlzoo.org/PollinatorDinner.

Guest speaker for the Pollinator Dinner is Jane Breckenridge, co-director of Tribal Environmental Action for Monarchs (TEAM). Tribal lands where Native people once lived in harmony with the flora and fauna have been badly damaged by overgrazing, excessive mowing, droughts, misuse of agricultural chemicals and the introduction of invasive non-native species. The resulting damage has contributed to the decimation of wildlife habitat, particularly for monarchs and pollinators, and threatened cultural preservation by destroying native plants that have important roles in the ceremonial, medicinal and culinary traditions of many Native Americans. Breckinridge will discuss how their unique project brings together cutting-edge scientific protocols for monarch and pollinator habitat restoration with traditional ecological knowledge in order to create an effective new model for conservation collaboration.

Pollinator Conservation
There are more than 20,000 species of bees in the world and 452 species of bees in Missouri alone. That is more than all species of birds and mammals put together, according to Ed Spevak, curator of invertebrates at the Zoo and director of the Center for Native Pollinator Conservation.

“Many of the more than 4,000 native bees in North America are actually far better pollinators than honeybees for crops like alfalfa, clover, tomatoes, peppers, blueberries, squashes and more,” said Spevak. “But more importantly, they are invaluable to the functioning of many habitats and to the birds and other animals that feed on the seeds, nuts and fruits from the labors of these pollinators. Unfortunately, a number of native bees are disappearing. Everyone from local homeowners to farmers to conservationists can help the bees as well as other pollinators by growing a wildflower garden, protecting habitat and reducing our use of pesticides and herbicides.
Everyone can participate in their conservation.”

The Center for Native Pollinator Conservation focuses on the importance and diversity of native pollinators for the maintenance and survival of wildlife, ecosystems and agriculture.
The activities of the Center include surveys of native bee populations, education and outreach programs, production of the first guide to the Bumble Bees of Illinois and Missouri with the University of Illinois, and developing additional bee field guides. Zoo researchers have surveyed bee populations in Forest Park’s restored prairies in cooperation with Forest Park Forever and St. Louis Parks Department to examine bee diversity and abundance. The Center is collaborating with Missouri Department of Agriculture, Missouri Department of Transportation, Ameren Missouri and the Xerces Society to develop pollinator roadsides and utility rights-of-way within Missouri. The Center also is working with Gateway Greening and other community garden groups to help them develop best pollinator practices and educate the public about the importance of protecting pollinators. The Center also has helped to establish a number of coalitions focused on pollinator conservation, including the Honey Bee Health Coalition, Keystone Monarch Collaborative, Missourians for Monarchs and the IUCN SSC Bumblebee Specialist Group.

How You Can Help
The Saint Louis Zoo’s website offers directions on how to build bee nesting boxes, in addition to tips on how to plant pollinator gardens and identification guides for Missouri and Illinois bees. For more information, visit stlzoo.org/pollinators.

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