Flower Power

A college student collects pollinating insects in one of our transmission line corridors as part of a 2017 EPRI environmental study.

June 18, 2018

Imagine walking into a supermarket and not being able to purchase produce items like peaches, strawberries and melons. Or, being unable to bake an apple pie because there are no apples. Even chocolate bars would be unavailable in this frightening scenario.

According to the Pollinator Partnership – a non-profit organization dedicated to the protection and promotion of pollinators and their ecosystems – approximately 1,000 plants grown for food, beverages, fibers, spices and medicines need to be pollinated by animals (e.g., hummingbirds and bats) and insects (e.g., bees and butterflies) to produce many of the resources we rely on every day.

Through the Electric Power Research Institute’s (EPRI) Power-in-Pollinator Initiative, FirstEnergy is joining more than a dozen other utility companies to participate in National Pollinator Week, scheduled from June 18–24. The program celebrates pollinators and spreads the word about what people can do to help protect them.

“I’m proud that our company is actively participating in this important initiative,” says Becky Spach, director, Vegetation Management. “FirstEnergy has a long history of environmental stewardship, and we constantly are looking for ways to improve our vegetation management practices to create the best overall environment, including promoting and protecting habitats for pollinators and other animals.”

Last year, FirstEnergy worked on a research project with EPRI and the State University of New York’s College of Environmental Science and Forestry to better understand plant species in transmission line corridors that could help rejuvenate declining populations of insects that pollinate flowers (see June 22, 2017 issue of Dispatch). We also sponsored and participated in a similar project with Ohio State University-Mansfield along a separate transmission corridor.

“These types of projects are crucial to supporting pollinators and the many benefits they provide to society,” continues Becky. “FirstEnergy maintains approximately 14,000 miles of transmission line corridors, and maintaining vegetation in these rights-of-way that is both low-growing and pollinator-friendly can help sustain a healthy population of bees, butterflies and other pollinating insects.”

Creating a Buzz

Here are some things you can do to bee a better
friend to pollinators:

Watch for pollinators. Connect with nature –
take a walk, experience the landscape and look for
pollinators in sunny, planted areas.

Reduce your impact. Avoid pesticides and increase green space.
If a pesticide is needed, use the most selective – and least toxic – and apply at night
when many pollinators are not active.

Plant for pollinators. Incorporate native flowering plants that supply pollinators with nectar, pollen and homes.

Tell a friend. Educate your neighbors, schools and community groups about the importance of pollinators. Host a dinner or other event and invite your friends.

Grow your knowledge. For more information about how you can help pollinators, and to join the Pollinator Partnership, visit www.pollinator.org. Bee part of a growing community of pollinator supporters.