- Key to species featured on poster
- Brief information about migration and all species featured on the poster
- How the USFWS helps migratory pollinators featured on the 2012 Poster
WHY POLLINATORS ARE IMPORTANT
Pollinators, such as most bees and some birds, bats, and other insects, play a crucial role in flowering plant reproduction and in the production of most fruits and vegetables.
Examples of crops that are pollinated include apples, squash, and almonds. Without the assistance of pollinators, most plants cannot produce fruits and seeds. The fruits and seeds of flowering plants are an important food source for people and wildlife. Some of the seeds that are not eaten will eventually produce new plants, helping to maintain the plant population.
In the United States pollination by honey bees directly or indirectly (e.g., pollination required to produce seeds for the crop) contributed to over $19 billion of crops in 2010. Pollination by other insect pollinators contributed to nearly $10 billion of crops in 2010.
A recent study of the status of pollinators in North America by the National Academy of Sciences found that populations of honey bees (which are not native to North America) and some wild pollinators are declining. Declines in wild pollinators may be a result of habitat loss and degradation, while declines in managed bees is linked to disease (introduced parasites and pathogens).
Find out more about migrating pollinators:
- Mexican long-nosed bat
- White-winged Doves
- lesser long-nosed bat
- rufous hummingbird
- Hear podcasts about pollinators
- Gardening for Pollinators
Bee Deaths May Have Reached A Crisis Point For Crops
May 07, 2013 6:03 PM by DAN CHARLES – NPR
Pettis says beekeepers can afford to lose only about 15 percent of their colonies each year. More than that, and the business won’t be viable for long.
According to a new survey of America’s beekeepers, almost a third of the country’s honeybee colonies did not make it through the winter.
That’s been the case, in fact, almost every year since the U.S. Department of Agriculture began this annual survey, six years ago.
Over the past six years, on average, 30 percent of all the honeybee colonies in the U.S. died off over the winter. The worst year was five years ago. Last year was the best: Just 22 percent of the colonies died.
“Last year gave us some hope,” says Jeffrey Pettis, research leader of the Agriculture Department’s Bee Research Laboratory in Beltsville, Md.
But this year, the death rate was up again: 31 percent.
Six years ago, beekeepers were talking a lot about “colony collapse disorder” — colonies that seemed pretty healthy, but suddenly collapsed. The bees appeared to have flown away, abandoning their hives.
Beekeepers aren’t seeing that so much anymore, Pettis says. They’re mostly seeing colonies that just dwindle. As the crowd of bees gets smaller, it gets weaker.
“They can’t generate heat very well in the spring to rear brood. They can’t generate heat to fly,” he says.
How You Can Help
Pollinators need your help! There is increasing evidence that many pollinators are in decline. However, there are some simple things you can do at home to encourage pollinator diversity and abundance.
The most obvious need for pollinating species is a diversity of nectar and pollen sources. Consider the following when choosing plants for your garden:
- Choose plants that flower at different times of the year to provide nectar and pollen sources throughout the growing season
- Plant in clumps, rather than single plants, to better attract pollinators
- Provide a variety of flower colors and shapes to attract different pollinators. NAPPC’s Pollinator Syndrome table provides information on the types of flowers that different pollinator groups (bats, hummingbirds, bees, butterflies, etc.) find attractive.
- Whenever possible, choose native plants. Native plants will attract more native pollinators and can serve as larval host plants for some species of pollinators. Check field guides to find out which plants the larval stage of local butterflies eat. Pollinator friendly plants for your area can be found in NAPPC’s Ecoregional Planting Guides. Contact your local or state native plant society for help. Information on finding native plants and native plant societies for your area
Pesticides can kill more than the target pest. Some pesticide residues can kill pollinators for several days after the pesticide is applied. Pesticides can also kill natural predators, which can lead to even worse pest problems. Consider the following when managing pests in your garden:
- Try removing individual pests by hand if possible (wearing garden gloves)
- Encourage native predators with a diverse garden habitat
- Expect and accept a little bit of pest activity
- If you must use a pesticide, choose one that is the least toxic to non-pest species, does not persist on vegetation, and apply it in the evening when most pollinators are not as active. Read and follow label directions carefully.
Follow these simple steps to create a pollinator-friendly landscape around your home or workplace.
- Use a wide variety of plants that bloom from early spring into late fall.
Help pollinators find and use them by planting in clumps, rather than single plants. Include plants native to your region. Natives are adapted to your local climate, soil and native pollinators. Do not forget that night-blooming flowers will support moths and bats.
- Avoid modern hybrid flowers, especially those with “doubled” flowers.
Often plant breeders have unwittingly left the pollen, nectar, and fragrance out of these blossoms while creating the “perfect” blooms for us.
- Eliminate pesticides whenever possible.
If you must use a pesticide, use the least-toxic material possible. Read labels carefully before purchasing, as many pesticides are especially dangerous for bees. Use the product properly. Spray at night when bees and other pollinators are not active.
- Include larval host plants in your landscape.
If you want colorful butterflies, grow plants for their caterpillars. They WILL eat them, so place them where unsightly leaf damage can be tolerated. Accept that some host plants are less than ornamental if not outright weeds. A butterfly guide will help you determine the plants you need to include. Plant a butterfly garden!
- Create a damp salt lick for butterflies and bees.
Use a dripping hose, drip irrigation line, or place your bird bath on bare soil to create a damp area. Mix a small bit of table salt (sea salt is better!) or wood ashes into the mud.
- Spare that limb!
By leaving dead trees, or at least an occasional dead limb, you provide essential nesting sites for native bees. Make sure these are not a safety hazard for people walking below. You can also build a bee condoby drilling holes of varying diameter about 3 to 5 inches deep in a piece of scrap lumber mounted to a post or under eaves.
- You can add to nectar resources by providing a hummingbird feeder.
To make artificial nectar, use four parts water to one part table sugar. Never use artificial sweeteners, honey, or fruit juices. Place something red on the feeder. Clean your feeder with hot soapy water at least twice a week to keep it free of mold.
- Butterflies need resources other than nectar.
They are attracted to unsavory foodstuffs, such as moist animal droppings, urine and rotting fruits. Try putting out slices of overripe bananas, oranges and other fruits, or a sponge in a dish of lightly salted water to see which butterflies come to investigate. Sea salt provides a broader range of micronutrients than regular table salt.
- Learn more about pollinators
Get some guidebooks and learn to recognize the pollinators in your neighborhood. Experiment with a pair of close-focusing binoculars for butterflies, bees and hummingbirds.
The North American Pollinator Protection Campaign’s Pollinator Partnership™ has launched a new curriculum, Nature’s Partners: Pollinators, Plants and You, designed to help students in grades 3-6 study the interactions of plants and pollinators. The North American Pollinator Protection Campaign is coordinated by the non-profit Pollinator Partnership, formerly known as the Coevolution Institute. The Fish and Wildlife Service has partnered with the two groups to protect pollinators by working together to help conserve pollinators and raise awareness of the importance of pollinators.
6/20/14 President Obama issued a memorandum directing U.S. government agencies to take additional steps to protect and restore domestic populations of pollinators, including honey bees, native bees, birds, bats, and butterflies – critical contributors to our nation’s economy, food system, and environmental health.
- Fact Sheet: The Economic Challenge Posed by Declining Pollinator Populations
- 6/24/14 American Beekeeping Federation President Tim Tucker “On behalf of the American Beekeeping Federation, I would like to express our appreciation to President Obama for his recent Presidential Memorandum, “Creating a Federal Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators.”
- 5/19/15 White House Science-based Pollinator Research Action Plan
- 12/5/16 Executive Order — Safeguarding the Nation from the Impacts of Invasive Species
Pollinator Partnership: http://www.pollinator.org