Pollinators are vital to ecological health and stability, the food system and our national economy. Multitudes of plants depend on pollinating animals, including key fruit and vegetable crops. Pollinators can include ants, honeybees, native bees, birds, bats, butterflies, lizards and numerous other insects.
This variety in pollinators helps sustain the U.S. agriculture sector and keep key fruits, vegetables and nuts in American diets. In fact, pollinators contribute more than $24 billion to the U.S. economy, with $15 billion coming from honeybees alone. According to the Agricultural Research Service, in U.S. diets roughly one mouthful in three directly or indirectly benefits from honeybee production. Given the dependence on pollinators for crop production, reduced honeybee and pollinator populations pose a serious risk to domestic agriculture, ecological health and the U.S. economy.
Pollinator populations in the U.S. have been falling for decades. Domestic managed honeybee populations dropped from 6 million colonies in 1947 to 2.5 million currently, and the Monarch butterfly migration is at risk of a failed migration. While no single factor is causing the current crisis, a combination of stressors contribute to the declining populations. Inadequate diets, natural habitat loss, mite infestations (such as the Varroa mite), diseases, loss of genetic diversity and exposure to potentially harmful pesticides all contribute to population losses.
Insects decline dramatically in
German nature reserves: study
October 18, 2017
Researchers in Germany have documented a steep decline in flying insects at dozens of nature reserves in the past three decades, and agricultural pesticides may be to blame, said a study Wednesday. While it is well documented that butterflies and bees have been disappearing in Europe and North America, the study in PLOS ONE is the first to document that flying insects in general have decreased by more than three-quarters across Germany since 1989.
Researchers are concerned because insects are important pollinators and also a key part of the food chain, serving as meals for birds and other small creatures.
"The fact that flying insects are decreasing at such a high rate in such a large area is an even more alarming discovery," said lead researcher Hans de Kroon of Radboud University.
Understanding WHY also leads to Solutions
Everyone can contribute to the solution. Here is but one resource guide:
More than one third of the fruits and vegetables we depend on for a healthy life depend on pollinators. If we don’t have pollinators, these foods don’t grow.
To learn more, watch this excellent Ted Talk presented by Marla Spivak of the University of Minnesota:
This is a link to a Minnesota DNR website addressing pollinator habitat needs and what we can all do. It contains lots of links to more information.
Pollinator are needed for food production—
But they are dying at a high rate