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Presentation Aids

Pollination Quotes and Poetry



The use of poetry, quotes, and stories in a presentation can be very effective in public speaking. Quotes, poetry, and stories can help make your audience feel comfortable with you, get across images and strengthen points, and help keep your audience involved and interested. You might find something that would fit into your presentation among the following selection. Pull out lines and stanzas to introduce a new section of your talk or article, or use quoted lines in your overheads. You may use a quote to play a game with the audience – use lines from a famous person and ask if anyone can tell you who the author is.  If you do not want to use poetry or quotes in your presentation or articles, you may just find that you enjoy reading them and they inspire some ideas of your own.







Pollinators: These hardworking heroes of nature are not well understood but are clearly in peril… Loss of habitat, poisonings, and fragmentation of plant life on which they depend is reducing the number of pollinators alarmingly.

US Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt, September 30, 1998 speech, Austin, Texas


Such vegetation is also the habitat of wild bees and other pollinating insects. Man is more dependent on these wild pollinators than he usually realizes. Even the farmer himself seldom understands the value of wild bees and often participates in the very measures that rob him of their services.  Some agricultural crops and many wild plants are partly or wholly dependent on the services of the native pollinating insects. Several hundred species of wild bees take part in the pollination of cultivated crops — 100 species visiting the flowers of alfalfa alone. Without insect pollination, most of the soil-holding and soil-enriching plants of uncultivated areas would die out, with far-reaching consequences to the ecology of the whole region.  Many herbs, shrubs, and trees of the forests and range depend on native insects for their reproduction; without these plants many wild animals and range stock would find little food. Now clean cultivation and the chemical destruction of hedgerows and weeds are eliminating the last sanctuaries of these pollinating insects and breaking the threads that bind life to life.

Rachel Carson, Excerpted from Silent Spring, Chapter 10 (1962)


These insects, so essential to our agriculture and indeed to our landscape as we know it, deserve something better from us than the senseless destruction of their habitat. Honeybees and wild bees depend heavily on such ‘weeds’ as goldenrod, mustard, and dandelions for pollen that serves as the food for their young. Vetch furnishes essential spring forage for bees before the alfalfa is in bloom, tiding them over this early season so they are ready to pollinate the alfalfa. In the autumn they depend on goldenrod at a season when no other food is available, to stock up for the winter. By the precise and delicate timing that is nature’s own, the emergence of one species of wild bee takes place on the very day of the opening of the willow blossoms. There is no dearth of men who understand these things, but these are not the men who order the wholesale drenching of the landscape with chemicals.

Rachel Carson, Excerpted from Silent Spring, Chapter 10 (1962)


Those to whom the tree, the birds, the wildflowers represent only “locked-up dollars” have never known or really seen these things.

Edwin Way Teale





People from a planet without wild flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have the things about us.

Iris Murdoch


A flower’s fragrance declares to all the world that it is fertile, available, and desirable, its sex organs oozing with nectar. Its smell reminds us in vestigial ways of fertility, vigor, life-force, all the optimism, expectancy, and passionate bloom of youth.  We inhale its ardent aroma and, no matter what our ages, we feel young and nubile in a world aflame with desire.

Diane Ackerman


Can anything compare to the sight of the first yellow violets blooming along a woodland path? These most fragile of plants are yet hardy enough to bloom when nights are still frosty and snow still lingers in the ravines.

Howard Ensign Evans


One cannot praise the pond-lily; his best words mar it, like the insects that eat its petals: but he can contemplate it as it opens in the morning sun and distills such perfume, such purity, such snow of petal and such gold of anther, from the dark water and still darker ooze.

John Burroughs


A little higher, almost at the very head of the pass, I found the blue arctic daisy and purple-flowered bryanthus, the mountain’s own darlings, gentle mountaineers face to face with the sky, kept safe and warm by a thousand miracles, seeming always the finer and purer the wilder and stormier their homes.

-John Muir


What a pity flowers can utter no sound! – A singing rose, a whispering violet, a murmuring honeysuckle, -oh, what a rare and exquisite miracle would these be!

Henry Ward Beecher


What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.

Ralph Waldo Emerson


To analyze the charms of flowers is like dissecting music; it is one of those things which it is far better to enjoy, than to attempt fully to understand.

Henry Theodore Tuckerman



Birds, Bees, and Other Creatures


Nature is to be found in her entirety nowhere more than in her smallest creatures.

Pliny the Elder (Roman Scholar)


Bugs are not going to inherit the earth. They own it now. So we might as well make peace with the landlord.

-Tom Eisner, Jacob Gould Schurman Professor of Biology, Cornell University


[Insects] are not only cold-blooded, and green- and yellow-blooded, but are also cased in a clacking horn…They have rigid eyes and brains strung down their backs. But they make up the bulk of our comrades –at –life, so I look to them for a glimmer of companionship.

Annie Dillard (American writer)


There is much to be discovered and to astonish in magnifying an insect as a star.

-Thaddeus William Harris


The most insignificant insects and reptiles are of much more consequence, and have much more influence in the economy of nature, than the incurious are aware of; and are mighty in their effect, from their minuteness, which renders them less an object of attention; and from their numbers and fecundity.

-Gilbert White (English Clergyman)



…most elegantly finished in all parts, [the hummingbird] is a miniature work of our Great Parent, who seems to have formed it the smallest, and at the same time the most beautiful of the winged species.

Hector St. John de Crevecoeur (French-born American farmer and writer)


To write honestly and with conviction anything about the migration of birds, one should oneself have migrated. Somehow or other we should dehumanize ourselves, feel the feel of feathers on our body and wind in our wings, and finally know what it is to leave abundance and safety and daylight and yield to a compelling instinct, age-old, seeming at the time quite devoid of reason and object.

William Beebe (American naturalist and explorer)


Then there is that other appeal, the stronger one, of spending, during certain parts of the year, a ten- or twelve- hour working day with bees, which are, when all is said and done, simply a bunch of bugs. But spending my days in close and intimate contact with creatures who are structured so differently from humans, and who get on with life in such a different way, is like being a visitor in an alien but ineffably engaging world.

Sue Hubbell (American beekeeper and writer)


What are you gonna do? Sic your dogs on me? Or your bees? Or dogs with bees in their mouth, so when they bark they shoot bees at me?

-Homer Simpson


The honey-bee’s great ambition is to be rich, to lay up great stores, to possess the sweet of every flower that blooms. She is more than provident. Enough will not satisfy her; she must have all she can get by hook or by crook.

John Burroughs


Nature marches in procession, in sections, like the corps of an army. All have done much for me, and still do. But for the last two days it has been the great wild bee, the humblebee, or “bumble,” as the children call him. As I walk, or hobble, from the farmhouse down to the creek, I traverse the before-mentioned lane, fenced by old rails, with many splits, splinters, breaks, holes, etc., the choice habitat of those crooning, hairy insects. Up and down and by and between these rails, they swarm and dart and fly in countless myriads. As I wend slowly along, I am often accompanied with a moving cloud of them. They play a leading part in my morning, mid-day, or sunset rambles, and often dominate the landscape in a way I never before thought of – fill the long lane, not by scores or hundreds only, but by thousands. Large and vivacious and swift, with wonderful momentum and a loud swelling perpetual hum, varied now and then by something almost like a shriek, they dart to and fro, in rapid flashes, chasing each other, and (little things as they are) conveying to me a new and pronounced sense of strength, beauty, vitality, and movement.


As I write this, two or three weeks later, I am sitting near the brook under a tulip tree, 70 feet high, thick with the fresh verdure of its young maturity – a beautiful object – every branch, every leaf perfect. From top to bottom, seeking the sweet juice in the blossoms, it swarms with myriads of these wild bees, whose loud and steady humming makes an undertone to the whole, and to mood and the hour.

Walt Whitman, Excerpted from Specimen Days (1882)


The butterfly lures us not only because he is beautiful, but because he is transitory. The caterpillar is uglier, but in him we can regard the better joy of becoming.

Cynthia Ozick (American writer)


And what’s a butterfly? At best, He’s a caterpillar, drest.

John Gay (English poet and playwright)


Who when examining in the cabinet of the entomologist the gay and exotic butterflies, and singular cicadas, will associate with these lifeless objects, the ceaseless harsh music of the latter, and the lazy flight of the former, – the sure accompaniments of the still, glowing noonday of the tropics.

Charles Darwin





They’ve got this steamroller going, and they won’t stop until there’s nobody fishing. What are they going to do then, save some bees?

Mike Russo, Massachusetts fisherman, on environmentalists. New York Times (2002)


We are called to assist the Earth to heal her wounds and in the process heal our own—indeed, to embrace the whole creation in all its diversity, beauty, and wonder. This will happen if we see the need to revive our sense of belonging to a larger family of life, with which we have shared our evolutionary process.

-Wangari Maathai (2004)


One of the penalties of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds. …An ecologist must either harden his shell and make believe that the consequences of science are none of his business, or he must be the doctor who sees the marks of death in a community that believes itself well and does not want to be told otherwise.


If the land mechanism as a whole is good, then every part is good, whether we understand it or not. If the biota, in the course of eons, has built something we like but do not understand, then who but a fool would discard seemingly useless parts? To keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering.

Aldo Leopold. From Round River: from the journals of Aldo Leopold (1972)


No phenomenon in nature illustrates more vividly the principle that conservation measures must be directed at ecosystems, not just individual species. If the last pollinator species adapted to a plant is erased by pesticides, or habitat disturbance, the plant will soon follow. And as these and other populations decline or disappear, the consequences spread through the remainder of the food net, weakening other interspecific relationships.


The evidence is overwhelming that wild pollinators are declining…. Their ranks are being thinned not just by habitat reduction and other familiar agents of impoverishment, but also by the disruption of the delicate “biofabric” of interactions that bind ecosystems together. Humanity, for its own sake, must attend to the forgotten pollinators and their countless dependent plant species.

-E. O. Wilson, in the foreword to The Forgotten Pollinators (1996)


This lack of evidence is no cause for complacency. Instead, taking action now in response to these early alarms might allow North Americans to avert the very real and widespread declines that are now being detected among central European bee faunas.

-James Cane and Vincent Tepedino (2001)


Poll after poll confirms that few Americans understand (or care?) what ecologists and other scientists actually mean by biodiversity. Similar polls indicate that few Americans know that pollen plays a role in plant reproduction, for most of them regard it as a nuisance, an allergenic dust.


In exchange for transferring pollen from one plant to its nearby relatives, mutualistic pollinators obtain food, shelter, chemical, or mating grounds in and around the flowers…. Fair or not, this intrafloral commerce by the birds and the bees is what makes the living world go round on its reproductive cycle. And yet this fact—fundamental to our own food getting—is easily forgotten by most city folks who don’t gather their food daily from the vine but hunt down their polished fruits and shrink-wrapped vegetables as the local supermarket.


The conservation biology issues…are not simply esoteric concerns relevant only to middle-class bird-watchers and bug-netters. These issues should strike a chord in every person who cares about where our food comes from and whether it is wholesome to eat. After all, one in every three mouthfuls you swallow is prepared from plants pollinated by animals.

-Stephen L. Buchmann and Gary Paul Nabhan, The Forgotten Pollinators (1996)





I know a bank whereon the wild thyme blows,

Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows

Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,

With sweet musk-roses, and with eglantine:

There sleeps Titania some time of the night,

Lull’d in these flowers with dances and delight.

-William Shakespeare


… I knew the birds

And insects,–which look fathered by the flowers

And emulous of their hues: I recognized

The moths, with that great overpoise of wings

Which makes a mystery of them how at all

They can stop flying: butterflies, that bear

Upon their blue wings such red embers round

They seem to scorch the blue air into holes

Each flight they take…

Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Excerpt from Aurora Leigh (1864)


Flowered in the crannied wall,

I pluck you out of the crannies,

I hold you here, root and all, in my hand,

Little flower- but if I could understand

What you are, root and all, and all in all,

I should know what God and man is.

Lord Alfred Tennyson


Distance does not make you falter,

now, arriving in magic, flying,

and, finally, insane for the light,

you are the butterfly and you are gone.

And so long as you haven’t experienced

this: to die and so to grow,

you are only a troubled guest

on the dark earth.

-Goethe, Excerpted from The Holy Longing, translated by Robert Bly (1814)


To see a world in a grain of sand

And a heaven in a wild flower,

Hold infinity in the palm of your hand

And eternity in an hour.

William Blake


Honeybees are very tricky—

Honey doesn’t make them sticky.

-Russell Hoban, Bees


I am very fond of bugs.

I kiss them

And I give them hugs.

-Karla Kuskin, Bugs


I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,

And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;

Nine bean rows will I have there, a hive for the honey bee,

And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

– William Butler Yeats, The Isle of Innisfree


If my job were pollination

I’d punch in early

If my job were to walk

on soft petals and bump

the stamen of its fine gold

flour, if my job were to fly

in midday on my own wings

and leave a trail of sundust,

if this were my job,

I’d take no money, I’d give my time.

If this were my job, I’d come home

to the honeycomb singing.

-Carl Adamshick, Work Dream (1999)


Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,

Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;

Conspiring with him how to load and bless

With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;

To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,

And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;

To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells

With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,

And still more, later flowers for the bees,

Until they think warm days will never cease,

For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.

-John Keats, To Autumn (1819)


The butterfly’s loping flight

carries it through the country of the leaves

delicately, and well enough to get it

where it wants to go, wherever that is, stopping

here and there to fuzzle the damp throats

of flowers and the black mud; up

and down it swings, frenzied and aimless; and sometimes

for long delicious moments it is perfectly

lazy, riding motionless in the breeze on the soft stalk

of some ordinary flower.

-Mary Oliver, Excerpted from One or Two Things


The Plover and the Clover can be told

apart with ease,

By paying close attention to the

habits of the Bees,

For ento-molo-gists aver, the Bee

can be in clover,

While ety-molo-gists concur, there

is no B in Plover.

Robert Williams Wood, The Clover and the Plover


Bee! I’m expecting you!
Was saying yesterday
To someone you know
That you were due.

The frogs got home last week,
Are settled, and at work;
Birds, mostly back,
The clover warm and thick.

You’ll get my letter by
The seventeenth; reply
Or better, be with me,
Yours, Fly.

-Emily Dickinson

To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee,—

One clover, and a bee,

And revery.

The revery alone will do

If bees are few.

Emily Dickinson


What do caterpillars do?

Nothing much but chew and chew.


What do caterpillars know?

Nothing much but how to grow.


They just eat what by and by

will make them be a butterfly,


But that is more than I can do

however much I chew and chew.

– Aileen Fisher, Caterpillars


Bees in the late summer sun

Drone their song

Of yellow moons

Trimming black velvet

Droning, droning a sleepysong.

-Carl Sandburg, Bee Song



Reference as: Ecological Society of America. 2008. Communicating Ecosystem Services Pollination Toolkit Pollination Toolkit: Pollination Quotes and Poetry. Updated June 20, 2008. Online at