One out of every three bites of food a person takes is the result of the work of a pollinator. I knew animal pollinators are important to food production, but I was unaware of the degree of importance until I attended a presentation at the American Seed Trade Association’s CSS 2013 and Seed Expo.

Pollination — the transfer of pollen grains from the male part of the plant to the female part of the plant —occurs in several ways, including wind, water, self-pollination and, of course, animal pollination. When I think of pollination, I often think of honeybees, but actually there are more than 20,000 species of bees.

Laurie Adams, executive director of the Pollinator Partnership, said that 70 percent of all flowering plants rely on animals for their pollination.

Pollinator Partnership is the largest organization in the world that deals exclusively with pollinator issues, Adams said.

“We do policy, education, research, restoration and conservation,” she explained.

This group has developed 33 guides that give recipes for all 48 lower states and Hawaii on how people can help pollinators. These guides are free on the Internet at

“We translated that into a Smart Phone application that is free at your app store,” Adams said.

“Our mission is to support the health of pollinators through constructive management with everyone,” she said. “We don’t expect our partners to agree with one another — we expect them to agree with what we’re trying to do.”

The view of pesticides by the Pollinator Partnership is to avoid pest problems in the first place.

“Then you need to meet the pest threshold, diagnosis the problem accurately, use IPM and only when these measures fail, carefully select a pesticide and application method,” Adams said. “That’s a different message than let’s get rid of pesticides.”

Although corn does not need animal pollinators to reproduce, the executive director said, honeybees are attracted to corn pollen, and they take it back to the hive.

The North American Pollinator Protection Campaign has provided 35 grants over the last five years focusing on bee health and a variety of problems, including genetics, nutrition, best practices, pathogens, parasites and pesticides.

One of these grants went to Christian Krupke, associate professor at Purdue University.

“He found the dust that was created by the lubricant inside the hopper of the planter was quite volatile,” Adams explained. “That lubricant is used to insure uniform planting.

“I compliment Bayer CropScience — they stepped forward and said let’s do something about this and thus the Corn Dust Research Consortium was born,” she said.

The consortium now includes a variety of stakeholders including the seed treatment industry, pesticide industry, farmers, equipment manufacturers and beekeepers.

This issue is going to have to be addressed by everyone, Adams said.

“There is no one thing we can do to solve this problem,” she said.

I look at bees and, especially, honeybees a little different now since they are such an important aspect of food production.