Project: Research project

Project Details


The folly of relying on a single pesticide, tactic or cultivar has been seen repeatedly in the development of IPM programs. With pollinators, a similar reliance on just the honey bee is no less a folly. Many projects are dealing with threats (CCD) to the honey bee, but to truly address the threats to pollination there should be contingency plans that include the development of alternative pollinators and baseline data to measure future impacts on our native bees. Developing multiple tactics with multiple pollinator species represents the most robust management approach for a future of uncertain climate, environmental disruptions, and invasive species introductions. What is certain is that: a) the supply of honey bees in the U.S. will not be able to meet the demand for pollination services; b) that production costs for honey bees will go up; and c) that the cost to growers to rent honey bee hives will continue to increase. The economic impacts of pollinator shortages on US specialty crops could be considerable and for fruit growers have resulted in a 3 fold increase in the cost of renting hives. Rising costs combined with declining yields would lead to higher prices of US nuts, fruits and vegetables which would reduce exports of major commodities during a record US trade deficit. Another 3,500 non-Apis bee species in the US,however,are also important pollinators. These include bumble bees and many species of solitary bees which are collectively known as pollen bees. The value of pollen bees in US agriculture is conservatively estimated at $3 billion annually. The importance of native bees in the pollination of fruit in the Mid-Atlantic region has been underestimated due to our unique landscape ecology of agricultural and non-agricultural lands and the mosaic of diversified fruit and vegetable farms. These impart unique advantages in pollinator conservation and utilization compared to the monocultures of the Midwest or dry areas of the West. For most bee species, the paucity of long-term population data and our incomplete knowledge of even basic taxonomy, life history and ecology makes assessing their value and possible declines in some regions very difficult. Wild and managed species of pollen bees in many cases can supplement honey bees for pollination, and, in some situations, replace them. The National Research Council's Committee on the Status of Pollinators in North America (2007) issued a report assessing pollinators in North America. Our proposal applies the expertise of agricultural specialists in entomology,horticulture, ag economics, and ecology to address the NRC recommendations and long-term goals in the areas of basic discovery, research, extension, public outreach, and USDA-NRCS conservation programs for pollinators. Extension and outreach efforts of university extension and state governments will be coupled with the conservation expertise and outreach potential of the Xerces Society who represent many public and private groups outside of the agricultural sector.

Effective start/end date9/1/108/31/15


  • National Institute of Food and Agriculture: $1,338,438.00


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