Pollinators are declining rapidly due to a number of factors, including loss of habitat, loss of forage and pesticides. Some pollinators such as bumblebees and Monarch butterflies may be on the verge of extinction. Many states have enacted or are considering legislation to acquire, restore and/or protect pollinator habitat, as well as to restrict the application of pesticides and other chemicals that are harmful to pollinators.
1) Pollinators are critical for productive agricultural crops, although one-third of bees have disappeared in the U.S. since 2006. The term pollinator also includes butterflies, bats and certain birds.
2) Pollinators are essential to at least one-third of the crops grown for human consumption.
3) In 2015-2016 alone, 44% of honeybee populations in the United States died in one season. In some states such as Maryland losses exceeded 60%.
4) Pollinators are responsible for between $235 and $577 billion in crops produced worldwide.
NCEL’s Pollinator Briefing Book
States have taken several approaches to protect pollinators, including habitat restoration, funding for pollinator protection, education and study, and pesticide restrictions. At least 17 states have bills to increase pollinator protection and awareness in the 2017 session.
Science and Reports
- Neonicotinoid Insecticides Impair Bee’s Brains — Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, 2015
Levels of neonicotinoid insecticides currently used in agriculture impairs bees’ brain cells and leads to poor performance by the colony. The research is the first to demonstrate such effects from the low levels found in nectar and pollen of plants. The research can be accessed here.
- Sub-lethal Exposure to Neonicotinoids Impaired Honey Bees Winterization Before Proceeding to Colony Collapse Disorder — Bulletin of Insectology, 2014
Harvard School of Public Health replicated a controversial 2012 finding that linked low doses of a neonicotinoid called imidacloprid with colony collapse disorder in bees. The 2014 replication of the study confirmed the previous conclusion, in addition to determining that a second neonicotinoid, clothianidin, had the same negative impact. The full study is available here.
Researchers found that a neonicotinoid insecticide called thiamethoxam can cause high mortality in honeybees by compromising their ability to navigate back to the hive. The full study is available here.
This study established a correlation between exposure to field-realistic neonicotinoid insecticides and reduced growth rate and production of queen bees. Treated colonies suffered an 85 percent reduction in production of new queens compared with control colonies.
The briefing book includes a concise fact sheet, examples of state legislative strategies, an FAQ page, and a list of current legislation. Download the briefing book here.
Download the NCEL Fact Sheet with key points and links to legislation here.
This resource page offers introductory information about pollinators as well as best practices for management, planting, and home gardening. The page is available here.
This website offers regional information on pollinator conservation resources, such as pollinator plants, conservation guides, and policy examples. The full website and resources is available here.
- National Pollinator Health Strategy to Promote Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators — White House, 2015
This strategy report from the Pollinator Task Force outlines a comprehensive approach to tackling and reducing the impact of multiple stressors on pollinator health, including pests and pathogens, reduced habitat, lack
of nutritional resources, and exposure to pesticides. The full report is available here.
This document serves as a guide for land managers to effectively and efficiently use available resources and engage public and private partnerships in taking action for the conservation and management of pollinators and pollinator habitat on federal lands. The complete document is available here.
NCSL developed a collection of pollinator resources including state and federal actions. The full overview is available here.
This report reviews research on neonicotinoids in addition to highlighting knowledge gaps and research needs. Recommendations for protecting bees are also included, and the entire report can be viewed here.
Recent News Stories
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A new op-ed by Cassandra Carmichael, Executive Director of the National Religious Partnerships for the Environment, defends the Endangered Species Act and underscores the religious reasons for ensuring policies value every species on the planet. From the article: “Protecting the environment and strengthening the economy are not mutually exclusive — in fact, study after […]