While many people are aware of the global crisis facing honeybees, that’s only half the story. The other half is the decline of thousands of species of native pollinators (honeybees are not native to North America), including various bee species as well as flies, beetles, and butterflies.
The decline of our native pollinator wildlife directly threatens plant biodiversity, agriculture, food security, and human welfare. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has proclaimed June 20 – 26 Pollinator Awareness Week to highlight the importance of native pollinators to the state’s environment and economy.
“Pollinator Week is a great reminder of the importance of pollinators to our food supply and the agriculture industry, as well as the need to address their declining population. These birds and insects provide a critical service to all of us as they make it possible for New York farmers to offer an amazing array of flowers and food.”
— State Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets Richard A. Ball, in a DEC press release.
According to DEC, the number of pollinators, including honey bees, native bees, bats, hummingbirds and butterflies, has dropped significantly over the past 50 years. That’s likely due to a combination of factors including poor nutrition, loss of foraging habitat, parasites, pesticides, pathogens, lack of genetic diversity and poor land management practices.
Pollinators contribute substantially to the state’s economy. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, pollinators provide about $344 million worth of pollination services to New York and add $29 billion in value to crop production nationally each year. New York’s ability to produce crops like apples, grapes, cherries, onions, pumpkins and cauliflower relies heavily on pollinators.
While DEC and the Department of Agriculture and Markets lead a task force to stem pollinator losses, you can do your part by planting native flowering plants in your garden to help restore pollinator habitat.
Did You Know?
Honey bees are just the start. New York is home to about 480 native bee species. There are 4000 species across North America.
The most prolific pollinator, after bees, is the fly.
The greatest threat to native pollinators right now is habitat loss. Planting native flowers can help slow that trend by enhancing pollinator habitat.