Pollinator event to be held at McApline Locks and Dam

Published April 20, 2017
A bee lights on a flower, one of many pollinator friendly trees, shrubs and flowering plants at McAlpine Locks and Dam on the Ohio River at Louisville, Ky.

A bee lights on a flower, one of many pollinator friendly trees, shrubs and flowering plants at McAlpine Locks and Dam on the Ohio River at Louisville, Ky.

This year, Pollinator Day will be held at the McAlpine Locks and Dam, Louisville, Kentucky, on Saturday, May 13. The event runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.  Visitors can help complete a planting to improve habitat for bees, butterflies and other pollinators. 

Attendees can learn about pollinators, locking through on the Ohio River, Falls of the Ohio State Park, water safety and other topics. McAlpine Locks and Dam personnel are sponsoring the event with participation from LG&E, Greenway Landscape Services, and Boy Scouts of America.

This year’s activities will include the planting of pollinator friendly trees, shrubs, and herbaceous flowering plants and the placement of solitary bee houses recently constructed by the Boy Scouts.  Around 4,000 native bee species exist in the United States and like the European honey bee, their populations are under stress due to a variety of factors.  These native bees tend to be solitary nesters rather than developing hives like the honey bee.  While many native bees nest in the ground, some nest in hollow stems of plants or in holes within trees created by boring beetles.  The solitary bee houses are filled with hollow reeds or cardboard tubes which provide housing for many species of native bees.  Although native bees do not produce honey like the honey bee, they are very friendly to be around, tend not to sting and are more efficient pollinators than the honey bee.

Declining pollinator populations have become a worldwide concern. Plantings last year at McAlpine included 1.5 acres enhanced with native flowering plants during the 2016 Pollinator Day and an additional 1.25 acres converted to native species through seeding later in the year.  To enhance the native vegetation and reduce competition from non-native cool season grasses, a prescribed burn of 1.5 acres of habitat will take place in late spring at McAlpine.  

Lockmaster Dewey Takacy said when talking about last year’s pollinator event planting, “Even with the limited first year growth, some flowering did occur.  The number of butterflies and bees had obviously increased and our need for mowing and expending that labor was reduced.  I anticipate that the second year growth will result in many more flowers and should also increase the use in the area by pollinators.”

One third of all agricultural output depends on pollinators.  Without pollinators, many fruits and vegetables could not be produced.  Within urban settings, pollinators help with backyard gardens, trees and flowers and provide enjoyment in yards.  Many species of flowers depend specifically on a certain species of insect for its pollination.

This year’s event will again include a barbecue lunch sponsored by LG&E.  During the lunch break, participants will be entertained by Louisville-based Millers Folly Bluegrass Band.

The 2016 event saw 105 participants that came out to help.  Consider making the 2017 event an even greater success for the butterflies, birds, bees and other pollinators. If you plan to take part, RSVP to Dewey Takacy at 502-774-3514.