Pollinator Protection

EPA Actions to Protect Pollinators

Pesticide risk management must be based on sound science, consistent with the laws under which pesticides are regulated in the United States. EPA has been working aggressively to protect bees and other pollinators from pesticide exposure.

In June 2014, President Obama issued a memorandum establishing a Pollinator Health Task Force, co-chaired by USDA and EPA, to create a National Pollinator Health Strategy that promotes the health of honey bees and other pollinators (including birds, bats, butterflies, and insects). Learn more about EPA’s role in the Pollinator Health Task Force and read the National Pollinator Health Strategy.

EPA’s actions to protect pollinators from pesticide exposure include:

Implemented a policy in 2017 that protects bees from agricultural pesticide spray and dust applications while the bees are under contract to provide pollination services. The policy also recommends that states and tribes develop pollinator protection plans and best management practices.

Prohibited the use of certain neonicotinoid pesticides when bees are present.

Expediting the re-evaluation of the neonicotinoid family of pesticides, as well as other pesticides, using the harmonized risk assessment process.

Temporarily halted the approval of new outdoor neonicotinoid pesticide uses until new bee data is submitted and pollinator risk assessments are complete.

Expediting the review of new Varroa mite control products.

Developing new bee exposure and effect testing priorities for the registration of new pesticides, new pesticide uses, and registration review of existing pesticides. EPA expects to issue its implementation plan for new pollinator data in early 2016.

Issued data requirements and risk assessment approaches for pollinators as we review the registrations of all of the neonicotinoid pesticides.

Established guidance and best practices for regional, state and tribal inspectors conducting FIFRA inspections of apparent cases of pesticide-related bee deaths.

Developing a new risk management approach for considering the impacts of herbicides on monarch butterfly habitats and protecting milkweed from pesticide exposure. To view the proposal go to www.regulations.gov, Docket # EPA-HQ-OPP-2015-0389 .  

Issued a benefits analysis of neonicotinoid seed treatments for insect control in United States soybean production. EPA found neonicotinoid seed treatments were of little or no benefit to U.S. soybean production.

Providing farmers and beekeepers with EPA's residue toxicity time (RT25) data as a means of gauging the lengths of time that specific pesticide products may remain toxic to bees and other pollinators following application of these products to plants.

Working with pesticide manufacturers to develop new seed-planting technologies that will reduce dust that may be toxic to pollinators during the planting of pesticide-treated seed.

Incorporating pollinator protection at EPA Facilities, on epa.gov, and in other EPA programs.

  • Install pollinator gardens at all Agency facilities. 
  • Update its Green Infrastructure website to provide improved resources for pollinator protection.
  • Encourage pollinator friendly habitat considerations in land cleanup programs; for example,
    • the community advisory group at the Chemical Commodities, Inc. Superfund site in Olathe, Kansas in Olathe, Kansas; and
    • work with Monarch Watch, the Pollinator Partnership, and other site stakeholders to establish a pollinator garden after cleanup activities are completed.