It's finally spring, which means we have too many things to do, especially those whose job, volunteerism or passion is connected to the outdoors. It’s Bee Busy time! Because on top of the normal frenetic energy of this time of year, many people are working hard to help save our pollinators.

If you've read any of my previous writings (or the too-many articles and reports on the topic) you know that many of our pollinators — honey bees, native bees, butterflies, moths, and flies — are at risk and need all they help they can get. We have been hearing about this decline in species populations for years, but how many realized the severity of the problem?

In a just-published article in Science, citizen scientists in the UK and Germany have documented sharp declines in the numbers of insects — 80% in some places — during the past several decades.

So it’s critical for people to become aware of the situation and how we are contributing to the problem, and then what this means for life on the planet. Just like anything that needs to change — its up to us. Perhaps the loss of pollinators doesn’t seem to be a critical issue, like putting food on our plates. But actually, it is exactly that, not tonight's dinner, but next year's and the years after that. And the dinner for almost every other creature that lives on this bee-autiful planet.

What’s the solution? It’s easy! Gardens and landscapes that provide suitable habitat and forage for our pollinators — trees, shrubs, and flowers, mostly native, not too tidy, with flowers that bloom all year long in landscapes free of pesticides.

Ashland is very fortunate to live in such close proximity to 'wild lands' that serve as ‘banks’ for our pollinators. In fact, Ashland is a pretty good place to be a bee, with Lithia Park, Oredson-Todd Woods, North Mountain Park, the Ashland Watershed, not to mention the Cascade-Siskiyou Monument. (Did you know there is call to remove the protected status of the monument? Please visit www.kswild.org for more into and to submit a comment to the Department of the Interior to urge them to maintain the monument's protected status!)

Children get it! Helman, Willow Wind, and John Muir are all planting pollinator gardens, including milkweed!

So, here's a buzz of gratitude to all the busy folks helping our bees, butterflies and more! Check out this list to see if you missed a recent pollinator happening, and bee sure to mark your calendar for some of the upcoming events that will keep us all busy as a .... you know what .... all summer long. Hope to see you!

June 2 — Northwest Nature Shop will be hosting a party for Deb Van Poolen and her beautiful painting, Butterflies of the Siskiyou’s, during First Friday Art Walk.

June 9 and June 30 — OSU Extension is hosting two classes about beneficial insects and pollinators on farms — the first at Extension, the second at an organic farm in the Applegate.

June 10 — Bee City USA Phoenix is hosting a Pollinator Appreciation Day at the Phoenix Grange, with guest Dr. Andony Melathopoulos from OSU Extension.

June 17 — Sharon Schmidt of Bee City USA Phoenix and I will be conducting a pollinator count at North Mountain Park.

June 19 — June 24 is National Pollinator Week! Will your organization or business bee celebrating? (Post the event on Pollinator Project Rogue Valley’s Facebook page and we will share it!)

June 24 — Bee City USA Talent, the second in the country, invites everyone to a celebration of National Pollinator Week!

June 25 — I will be giving my annual Growing Pollinator Gardens class at North Mountain Park.

July 9 — Bee City USA Ashland is sponsoring a self-guided pollinator garden tour of 17 of the 22 gardens that were approved and designated last year as a Bee City USA Ashland Pollinator Garden.

Also, this fall, Bee City USA Ashland will be putting in a pollinator garden in front of The Grove. Participation by the public will be welcomed!

It's not just humans that are busy right now! Bees of all stripes — from teeny tiny to hunky Carpenter bees — are all over the ceanothus right now! Stop by a bush and enjoy the buzz!

— Kristina Lefever is a member of Pollinator Project Rogue Valley, Bee City USA Ashland, and the Jackson County Master Gardener Association. The Pollinator Connection appears quarterly.