Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - On Monday, the Missoula County Department of Ecology and Extension kicked off National Pollinator Week by hosting a demonstration event to bring attention to the pollinator resources that the department offers to Missoula County residents.

KGVO News spoke to Marirose Kuhlman following the demonstration held at a home on Missoula’s North Side.

There are Hundreds of Bees Native to Missoula County

“We did a demonstration at the home of one of our Bee City USA board members and Native Plant Society. Clark Fork chapter, President Teagan Hayes,” began Kuhlman. “She lives on the North Side with her husband and we were just there to showcase how she transformed her yard into a haven for pollinating insects using native plants.”

The demonstration was important because it pointed out the decline in pollinators all over the world.

There is Concern that Pollinators are Decreasing Globally

“The reason why we were particularly interested in Teagan’s home is that pollinators and insects in general are on the decline globally, and that's due to many factors including things like urbanization. So here in Missoula County, we're quickly urbanizing. A lot of people want to move here, but that means that we lose a lot of the biodiversity including pollinators in our landscapes.”

In case you were wondering, there are thousands of species of native bees, and many are right at home here in Montana, specifically in Missoula.

“On the North American continent, there are around 4,000 species of native bees,” she said. “Here in Montana there are about 600 species present and for Missoula County, there are 230 species of native bees and that's just bees that have been documented in Missoula County. Now, honeybees are not native to North America. They're considered livestock. Actually, they're domesticated animals. They have a worldwide distribution and they're really important in agriculture. We really do need them for that.”

For those who only see the stinging insects like wasps, hornets, and yellow jackets, Kuhlman said the pollinators are much smaller and offer no danger to humans.

Missoula's Pollinator Bees are not Harmful to Humans

“Many of those are too small to sting you,” she said. “In fact, their stinger isn't even big enough to get through your skin, but the other thing is that a lot of them are most of them are very gentle. They're not aggressive at all. In addition, the vast majority of them are solitary, so when you encounter them, even if you disturb a nest, there's only a single bee in it. Most of our bees are not social beings.”

Also during Pollinator Week, department staff will request the Missoula County commissioners to adopt a resolution at their Thursday, June 22, public meeting that would designate Missoula County as a Bee City USA affiliate.

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