Pollinator Health Bees and other pollinator populations are declining, yet they are vital for the food supply.

The Problem

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.


Fast Facts

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.

Pollinators are essential to at least one-third of the crops grown for human consumption.

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%.

Pollinators are responsible for between $235 and $577 billion in crops produced worldwide.


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. 

A list of sample state strategies and associated legislation is available here

Science and Reports

Neonicotinoid Insecticides Impair Bee's Brains -- Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, 2015 

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.

Sub-lethal Exposure to Neonicotinoids Impaired Honey Bees Winterization Before Proceeding to Colony Collapse Disorder -- Bulletin of Insectology, 2014

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.

Neonicotinoid Pesticide Reduces Bumble Bee Colony Growth and Queen Production -- Science, 2012

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. 

A Common Pesticide Decreases Foraging Success and Survival in Honey Bees -- Science, 2012

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 briefing book includes a concise fact sheet, examples of state legislative strategies, an FAQ page, and a list of current legislation.  

  • Download the NCEL Fact Sheet with key points and links to legislation.

  • This resource page offers introductory information about pollinators as well as best practices for management, planting, and home gardening. 

    [themify_buttontext=”#FFFFFF”  color=”#F05837″ target=”_blank” size=”large” link=”https://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/pollinators/”]Read More[/themify_button]

  • This website offers regional information on pollinator conservation resources, such as pollinator plants, conservation guides, and policy examples.

    [themify_buttontext=”#FFFFFF”  color=”#F05837″ target=”_blank” size=”large” link=”http://xerces.org/pollinators-pacific-northwest-region/”]Read More[/themify_button]

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