Pollinator bees include more than just the familiar honey bees, which in fact, are not native to North America. Honey bee colonies were introduced to provide agriculture pollination for vegetables, fruits, and row crops. Populations are in decline due to multiple factors including colony collapse, pathogen and pesticide related illness, and parasites. As a result of this, researchers and conservation practitioners have begun highlighting the importance of wild bees.
Wisconsin has around 500 native bee species and North American native bee species are upwards of 4,000! Many of these wild bees are equal or superior pollinators of native plants and agriculture crops when compared to the European honey bee. Native plant are essential for our native been populations survival and the chance to thrive!
Pollinators of all types are in serious trouble with a number of threats and issues. Along with habitat degradation and fragmentation, other threats to pollinators include pesticide and pathogen related illness, lack of nutrient availability from invasive plant species, competition with those non-native honey bees, and climate change. Most if not all of these threats are a result of human changes.
One example to slow the decline of pollinators is with an increased use of native plants within residential lots. Installations of native garden beds, rain gardens, or prairies of any size increases available amounts of native pollen and nectar sources for pollinators. With an increase of a diverse variety of plants available throughout the growing season, pollinators can sustain their energy to pollinate our food.
The Rusty Patched Bumblebee is the first pollinator species to be listed as Federally Endangered. The Rusty Patched Bumble Bee (pictured to the left) has been a species in decline for roughly 20 years. There's no guarantee that rest of the pollinators are out of the danger zone of threatened or endangered.