Bees and other insects pollinate a wide variety of fruits, nuts, vegetables, animal forages, fiber crops, and native plants. They also play an important role in Minnesota agriculture. This important group of insects includes domesticated honey bees as well as native wild bees, flies, wasps, moths, butterflies, and more.
Over the last 50 years, the number of pollinators has decreased and their overall health has been negatively impacted. The cause of this problem is complex and it is affecting pollinators in Minnesota, as well as other parts of the U.S.
A web of complex environmental factors are the root of the problem. Pollinators are exposed to a variety of stressors such as parasites, pathogens, and pesticides. When exposed to many stressors, they become more susceptible to the harmful effects. In addition, their habitat is getting smaller. Human development continues to divide or replace large areas of habitat. Roads, houses, and farm fields have replaced native prairies and forested land.
What Can You Do?
There are many things we can do to help pollinators. Simple acts, such as planting pollinator-attractive flowers, leaving pollinator nesting habitat (e.g., plant stems, leaf litter) undisturbed, and using pesticides only when necessary, can make a big impact.
There are a series of Best Management Practices that we can follow to protect, improve and create pollinator habitat in agricultural landscapes, yards and gardens and roadsides. The MDA also has suggestions for making your yard bee-friendly (PDF), and protecting and supporting protecting and supporting endangered and threatened insect pollinators (PDF).
NEW: Learn about creating and protecting pollinator habitat in rural land in this short video.
Making a Difference Across Minnesota
Neighbors across the state are already making a big impact on pollinators and their habitat. You can take advantage of federal and state programs to help you establish new habitat. More info from the Minnesota Board of Water & Soil Resources.
Minnesota state agencies are doing their part by exploring ways to increase pollinator habitat in all areas of Minnesota. The Department of Natural Resources focuses on pollinator habitat and conservation, while the Department of Transportation manages approximately 175,000 acres of land in Minnesota and is working to increase pollinator habitat along roadways throughout the state.
In 2013, the Minnesota State Legislature asked for a pollinator report to address the decline in pollinators.
The report includes a proposal to establish a pollinator bank to preserve pollinator species diversity, as well as a proposal to create and enhance pollinator nesting and foraging habitat and the establishment of pollinator reserves or refuges. The report also includes the process and criteria the commissioner would use to perform a special review of neonicotinoid insecticides registered by the commissioner for use in this state currently and in the future.
This pollinator report was developed in consultation with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Minnesota Department of Transportation, Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources and representatives of the University of Minnesota.