Bees and other wild pollinators are a vital component of our ecosystem and food supply. It’s estimated that bees alone pollinate approximately 75 percent of all the fruits, nuts, and vegetables grown in the United States.
While managed honey bees provide the majority of pollination services, wild pollinators are significant contributors as well. In many cases, crops are directly dependent on bees and other invertebrates for pollination.
However, populations of bees and other pollinators have been in significant decline over the past two decades, attributed to various factors including pesticides, parasites, viruses, loss of foraging habitat, and a changing climate.
In addition to declines in managed bee populations, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lists more than 50 wild pollinator species as being threatened or endangered, and wild honey bee populations have dropped 25 percent since 1990.
The goal of the Farmland Pollinator Protection Project is to grow populations of managed honey bees and wild pollinators by increasing high-quality pollinator habitat and forage resources on protected farms.
Providing high-quality habitat on well-managed farmland is a promising way to attract and increase both managed and wild pollinator populations. This same high-quality habitat can also be used by beneficial insects, such as predatory beetles and parasitic wasps. A 2006 estimate put the value of natural pest control by beneficial insects at $4.5 billion annually.