Ag is taking action to combat declining pollinator populations. This week, industry, researchers and government join together to celebrate National Pollinator Week. The week provides opportunities to educate farmers and homeowners on what’s going on with pollinators and what they can do to promote greater populations of common pollinators. “It's not just honey bees to pollinate many of our food crops,” says Mary Kay Malinowski, University of Maryland Extension entomologist. “There's a lot of other things, there's butterflies, bats, lot of native bees, like little tiny bees, there's all different size bees, bumblebees, there's a lot of species bumblebees, there's even certain flies that will visit flowers as well. But you have to have flowers for bees and other pollinators to feed on to survive.”
Pollinators have fewer feed sources, in part, thanks to the decline in natural floral food sources. “A lot of places I've noticed that, especially new developments, they tend to put plants in that don't flower,” Malinowski says. “They'll use a lot of evergreens that may not produce pollen and they have more of a sterile landscape. So, the idea is to try and get people to diversify their landscape with things that will flower all throughout the season.” It’s not just academia joining the charge, this week Syngenta and Bayer announced their efforts in promoting pollinators. Syngenta is hitting the road on “Monarch Highway,” I-35, that parallels the central flyway of the monarch migration across the U.S. The group will travel through Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Iowa and Minnesota to meet with researchers, conservationists and landowners working to improve pollinator health and habitat. “Highlighting the many ways various individuals and organizations are helping pollinators thrive is the primary goal of this road trip,” says Caydee Savinelli, pollinator and integrated pest management stewardship lead at Syngenta in a recent press release. “Caring for pollinators is much larger than any one company. Improving pollinator health and practicing good stewardship take the combined effort, support and expertise from multiple stakeholders.” Another such stakeholder, Bayer, is hosting webinars to help make a positive impact on pollinators. This is the company’s second year participating in and educating farmers during Pollinator Week. The two webinars, Hive Management 2.0 and The Changing Face of the Deformed Wing Virus, highlights research from the company’s Health Hives 2020 initiative. Webinars will be hosted on Wednesday and Thursday of this week, with links to the live and recorded sessions here. The company will also sponsor a Feed a Bee pop-up planting in Minnesota.