Pollinator Protection

Pollinator Health Concerns

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Importance of Pollinators

Many types of plants, including fruit and vegetable crops, depend on animals for pollination. In addition to honey bees, many other types of animals pollinate crops and wildflowers, including:

  • Wild bees.
  • Ants.
  • Beetles.
  • Wasps.
  • Lizards.
  • Birds.
  • Bats.
  • Butterflies.

We are concerned about declines in pollinator health and are working to protect bees and other pollinators from pesticide risks.

Learn more about what EPA is doing to protect pollinators.

Learn about what our partners are doing.

Factors Affecting Pollinator Health

Bee colony losses due to Colony Collapse Disorder began to be identified in 2006. A National Research Council report in 2007, Status of Pollinators in North America Exit, documented the decline of pollinators and discussed some of the possible causes as well as research and other actions needed to address the issue. 

The prevailing theory among scientists in EPA, USDA and the global scientific and regulatory community is that the general declining health of honey bees is related to complex interactions among multiple stressors including:

  • Pests (e.g., varroa mite), pathogens (e.g., the bacterial disease American foulbrood) and viruses.
  • Poor nutrition (e.g., due to loss of foraging habitat and increased reliance on supplemental diets).
  • Pesticide exposure.
  • Bee management practices (e.g., long migratory routes to support pollination services).
  • Lack of genetic diversity.

More details on the current understanding of the health of honey bees in the United States are available in the Report on the National Stakeholders Conference on Honeybee Health (PDF)(72 pp, 1.2 MB, About PDF).

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