Pollinators hard at work!
“One in three bites of food can be attributed to a pollinator”. This statement is often quoted by biologists around the world when talking about pollinators and their importance to our lives.
In Africa pollinators are primarily wild insects that travel between farms and natural habitat, and are extremely vulnerable to habitat loss and destruction.
Pollinators intimately link wild species with basic human livelihoods. The relationships between insects and flowers are at once ancient, beautifully intricate and correspondingly fragile.
These intricate and essential links between wild species, natural areas and food production were beautifully evident on a recent visit I paid to a farmer in Western Kenya. Lucy Murira grows a wide range of vegetables and fruits for her family. Her farm is located in the Nandi Hills nestled between tea plantations and forest patches. It is these forest patches that provide the pollinators for Lucy’s crops. Below is a short video showing some of the crops and pollinators on Lucy’s farm. (Please forgive the sloppiness of this video – it is my first attempt at doing this!)
[kml_flashembed movie=”http://www.youtube.com/v/xIv6KJCmxEk” width=”425″ height=”350″ wmode=”transparent” /]
As mentioned in the video, one of the important and nutritious crops growing on this farm is ‘Njahe’ a local variety of blackbean. It is a verdant climber with lovely pinky-lilac flowers.
The main pollinators of the blackbean here appear to be wild bees, including these lovely, robust and fast-flying carpenter bees.
Without the pollinating visits of these hardworking bees, there would be no pods to harvest.
One of the other crops growing here that benefits from pollination is the butterbean. As Lucy says, these are really yummy (in fact one of my favourites!). Skipper butterflies and bees were pollinating the butterbeans on this farm. All of them need the patches of forest to survive.
Pollinators need a clean, safe and pesticide-free environment to survive. Lucy’s farm is filled with a huge number of different pollinating insects. Not only were pollinating insects thriving on the farm, we even found this little reed frog dozing among the tendrils of the butterbeans!
More from the wonderful world of bugs soon!