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
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
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 www.pollinator.org.
“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
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
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,
“There is no one thing we can do to solve this problem,” she
I look at bees and, especially, honeybees a little different
now since they are such an important aspect of food production.