Photo credit: Alisha Maves/USFWS
Do you eat apples, peaches, blueberries, almonds, or cherries? You can thank a bee! Do you enjoy seeing and smelling wildflowers? Thank a bee! Do you enjoy the taste and health benefits provided by honey? Thank a bee! Nearly two-thirds of the world’s crop species and some 70 percent of the flowering plants in the world depend on pollinators for their reproductive success according to the Xerces Society. Consequently, the economic value of pollinators in the U.S. alone is estimated at $16 billion (National Agricultural Statistics Service). Pollinators, including bees, insects, bats, and birds, perform an invaluable service to ecological health around the world, agricultural production, and ultimately human beings. Unfortunately multiple sources of data suggest our pollinators are in trouble - their populations are disappearing.
With a focus on birds and bird habitat conservation, why is the PPJV interested in and concerned about pollinators? The answer rests in the fact the prairie landscape within the PPJV is rich in a wide variety of flowering plants. In turn, pollinating species, particularly bees, find the Northern Plains States particularly hospitable (NPR.org). Most likely, there are multiple causative agents for the observed decline in pollinators, clearly, however, one such factor is loss and fragmentation of habitat. Recognizing that PPJV partners work tirelessly to conserve and restore grasslands across the U.S. prairie landscape, and recognizing the critical role this landscape provides to pollinators, we feel our efforts to conserve migratory birds will help serve the needs of pollinators.
A number of PPJV partners, including the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Farm Services Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, USGS Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center,and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, to name a few, share information about pollinators, management practices to benefit pollinators, and conservation programs specifically designed to benefit pollinator populations.
In addition, there are a variety of other excellent outlets for pollinator information including the Pollinator Partnership and the Xerces Society, and Bee Spotter. A suite of conservation actions beneficial to pollinator populations for state partners to use as they update their State Wildlife Action Plans is found here. Additionally, a Presidential Task Force produced a "National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honeybees and Other Pollinators" in 2015.