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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.

Key Points

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. 

NCEL State Strategies Sheet

This one-page sheet outlines legislative initiatives in four major categories to increase pollinator protection and awareness. 


Science and Reports

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

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

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




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