For the past 12 years, farmers, entomologists and consumers have celebrated National Pollinator Week from June 17 to June 23. This week marks another year of celebrating the valuable contribution pollinators make in not only agriculture, but society at large.
Insects pollinate about 90% of commercial crops in the U.S., making them a critical component of production agriculture. Pollinators include many kinds of bees, butterflies and even some birds.
However, bees are vanishing, and the cause hasn’t been nailed down to a single culprit.
Beesponsible, a group that sells natural honey and advocates for pollinators, offers the following factors as challenges facing bees:
- Some pesticides and pollution exposure can cause confusion and hinder bees’ ability to forage and even increase mortality.
- Loss of native plants, wildflowers, flowering weeds and habitat negatively impact bee populations.
- Changes in long-term weather patterns can alter environmental cues for flowers and bees.
- Parasites and diseases are serious threats to pollinators. The varroa mite and the disease it spreads severely compromise honeybee and native bee colonies.
“The economic impact of vanishing bees is staggering,” said Jessica Cummings, marketing director for Beesponsible, in a prepared release. “Through their pollination services, bees contribute billions of dollars to the agricultural productivity of the U.S. every year.”
In 2017, the rusty patched bumblebee was named endangered, along with seven other bee species from Hawaii. Honeybees are in a better position than many native bees, though they still face challenges, because they are the most domesticated species of bee.
Industry contributes to pollinator well-being. In response to accusations from some individuals and organizations that pesticides and farming are a cause of bee decline, the ag industry is taking proactive strides to protect the valuable insects. This week, Bayer and Syngenta, along with other members of the ag industry, are celebrating pollinators.
Bayer is awarding seven “Blue Ribbon Beekeepers” awards to young beekeepers that the company has identified as up-and-comers in beekeeping. Each winner is being awarded $1,000 for their accomplishments.
In addition, Bayer is providing $60,000 in grants to 14 recipients in its Feed a Bee national pollinator forage initiative. This marks nearly 180 grantees in the two-year program and more than $700,000 the company has donated to pollinator-focused planting projects.
Syngenta is using the week to highlight what farmers across the U.S. are doing to promote pollinator health. Throughout this week, the company is sharing videos on its Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube channels to showcase farmers practicing pesticide product stewardship and going above and beyond to protect pollinators.
“Efforts to continuously improve pesticide product stewardship are important to Syngenta,” said Caydee Savinelli, pollinator and integrated pest management stewardship lead, in a prepared release. “Our goal is to bring visibility to some of the lesser-known roles and facets of stewardship, while sharing real, tangible examples of how it is being practiced daily and how pollinators are benefitting.”