Pollinator Initiatives – What they are, who is involved, and why we need them

In this article we will discuss pollinator initiatives – what they are, why they are important, who is enacting them, and how you can get involved. At Beepods we are working with communities around the country that are passionate about helping pollinators both wild and domestic. Part of our mission is to educate and support groups of people who want to get involved with beekeeping and enable others who may not be able to become beekeepers themselves. Hence, the Beepods Pollinator Initiative.

red admiral butterfly on cone flower

What is a pollinator initiative?

Simply put, a pollinator initiative is meant to protect and strengthen the number of pollinators, whether they be bees, butterflies, or other animals. These initiatives can be enacted in many ways, from passing laws restricting the use of harmful chemicals all the way down to installing a few pollinator-friendly plants in your backyard.

More specifically, a pollinator initiative is a clear intentional action to shift practices in order to preserve and rebuild natural ecology. It is also imperative that there be a goal to not replicate efforts within the same area. Rather, efforts should be spread over a wide area so as to have maximum effect. For there to be a measurable change, there cannot be only a single person making a huge effort. This movement must, at the very least, be a large number of people putting in a little bit of effort.

Why should we care about implementing pollinator initiatives?

Over the past few decades, pollinator populations have been declining at a fairly alarming rate (U.S. beekeepers report losing about 30% of their colonies annually since 2006). The human population, on the other hand, continues to increase. The huge problem with this is that pollinators are responsible for the health of approximately one third of the world’s crops. Every human on the planet needs those crops in order to survive, but if the pollinator populations continue to plummet, we may not have enough food to go around in the not-so-distant future.

Who is implementing pollinator initiatives?

There are many proponents of pollinator initiatives out there. From individuals all the way up to government entities, it seems like pollinators have a lot of friends looking to help them out. A couple of years ago, pollinators got some help from a particularly powerful friend.

Back in 2014, the White House released a memorandum to craft a Federal Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators. In 2015, the task force behind this strategy released their three main goals:

  1. “Reduce honey bee colony losses to economically sustainable levels;
  2. Increase monarch butterfly numbers to protect the annual migration; and
  3. Restore or enhance millions of acres of land for pollinators through combined public and private action.” (Click here to read more about the White House initiative to improve pollinator health

It’s not just the White House helping out pollinators, though. Closer to home, Milwaukee County Parks have united with Beepods to combat Honeybee Colony Collapse Disorder. The parks’ focus is “striving to build awareness, educate and participate in Milwaukee’s Community Pollinator Initiative.” The Community Pollinator Initiative is a partnering of individuals and organizations throughout the Milwaukee area which focuses on bringing pollination systems to a variety of communities – particularly large urban areas.

Milwaukee County Parks gold leaf logo

Milwaukee County Parks is actively changing activities, maintenance and management techniques, and increasing education around pollinators and their importance throughout their parks. You can find out more by going to their website.

 

Nationwide, Syngenta’s Operation Pollinator program has been helping agricultural settings, golf courses, and other landscaped areas to be more pollinator-friendly. According to Syngenta’s website, “this research-based program uses specially selected wildflowers to attract a variety of pollinators and increase biodiversity.” 

bee pollinating sunflower

While such large-scale efforts such as those discussed above are immensely powerful in the endeavor to protect and rebuild pollinator populations, individuals are doing their parts to help, as well. Some introduce pollinator-friendly plants into their gardens. Some avoid harmful chemicals. Some have apiaries in their backyards. Some raise money to go towards research and preservation programs. Some educate others about the importance of pollinators and what needs to be done to protect them.

How does one go about implementing a pollinator initiative?

The first hurdle to implementing a pollinator initiative is to make people aware of the issue, and then to get them to care about it. An apathetic public will never affect change.

So how would one go about getting the word out about the need for pollinator initiatives? One way would be to set up an information booth at your local farmers market. Millions of people visit farmers markets each year, and much of what they purchase there is available because of pollinators. This is probably the demographic that would be easiest to get to care about the decline of pollinators.

Another way to advertise the issue of declining pollinator populations is through public programs. Many libraries and other local organizations frequently have informational programs that are open to the public, and are usually free to attend. If your local library or community center hasn’t had an event dedicated to pollinators yet, put in a request. Most event organizers are happy to hear suggestions as to what sorts of programs people want. To see what’s coming up in your area or to request a speaker from the Beepods team, click here.

Kip Jacobs teaches bees at University School milwaukee

Kip Jacobs is a middle school science teacher and uses bees to teach Next Generation Science Standards and Environmental Education at University School in Milwaukee. The hands on education promotes engagement and understanding for students K – 8.

Teaching about pollinators in schools is an effective way to ensure that younger generations are made aware of the importance of pollinators. Some schools even have their own beehives, which allows for students to get hands-on experience with bees. This mode of learning is particularly good for getting students to care about the need to protect bees, because they are able to come face-to-face with the creatures rather than simply reading about them in a textbook.

Once there is an informed and concerned public, the real effort can begin. As we said before, every little action contributes to a larger cause. An individual can do something as small as planting a few pollinator-friendly plants in their backyard, such as yellow trout lily, pin cherry, or blazing star. That same individual can tell their friends and neighbors about what they’re doing to help pollinators, who may then go on to plant pollinator-friendly plants of their own, and so on. In addition to these at-home efforts, each of these people can contact their elected officials about passing laws that will aid and protect pollinators.pollinator friendly flowers

So as you can see, there are many ways to get involved with pollinator initiatives, whether you are participating in a group effort with thousands of people or just adding a few pollinator-friendly plants to your back garden. Pollinators are an essential cog in the machine of life.

Beepods is working with communities around the country to help protect and restore pollinator populations. Part of our mission is to educate and support groups of people who want to get involved with beekeeping and enable others who may not be able to become beekeepers themselves. We all know that we need bees (and other pollinators, too!), and bees can lead a community to more sustainable practices.

If you want to learn more about ways that you can help pollinators without becoming a beekeeper, click here.

Brad James
Brad James
Brad James is Beepods CEO. He covers the business of beekeeping and implementation of beekeeping systems from every angle -- as well as occasional other topics. Before joining Beepods, Brad has helped many startups get off the ground through implementing organizational strategy that leverages current personnel and implementing tried and true business processes that promote business growth and leadership development. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @BJJames23.

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