Pro-pollinator partners bolstered by new national strategy

The just-released National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators and its accompanying action plan from the Obama administration’s year-old Pollinator Health Task Force reinforces the existing partnerships already working across silos toward the same goals, sources say.

And to anyone who may say that the strategy doesn't go far enough toward improving pollinator progress?

“To the contrary, the president’s strategy is a comprehensive approach to the complex challenges facing pollinators today, including pests and pathogens, reduced habitat, lack of nutritional resources, and potential exposure to pesticides,” Becky Langer, head of Bayer CropScience’s North American Bee Care Program, told Crop Protection News.

The strategy includes restoring and enhancing land used by pollinators, reducing deaths of honeybees and increasing the monarch butterfly population.

For nearly 30 years, Langer said, Bayer has been working to improve bee health through collaborative research, education and cooperation with researchers, beekeepers, farmers, private/public partnerships and other stakeholders.

Langer cited the company’s Healthy Hives 2020 and Feed A Bee initiatives, as well as hosting more than 3,000 visitors in the first year since opening the North American Bee Care Center, participating in nearly 100 bee-keeping events, and working to improve communication between bee keepers and growers through its CARE program.

“Most experts agree that there are multiple factors impacting bee health and this [national] strategy represents a commitment to invest more into research to improve our understanding of pollinator health and to significantly expand the amount of forage habitat for our nation’s pollinators,” Langer said. “The fact that many of today’s key bee researchers applauded this strategy speaks to its significance.”

On the same page is Laurie Davies Adams, executive director of the nonprofit Pollinator Partnership. Her organization works with a diverse group of partners, including Bayer CropScience, Monsanto and other industry and corporate players, as well as numerous federal government agencies, NGOs, and foundations on research, outreach, education, and conservation programs.

With these partners, the group has collaborated over the past 17 years through the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign, which has played a “strong role in developing a unique, ambitious and science-based approach for the sustainable future of our pollinating partners,” Adams said.

“The president and the many federal partners … put so much time into making this [national strategy] a comprehensive blueprint for pollinator health,” Adams said. “The comprehensive nature of this document will do a world of good for pollinators and for the U.S.”

That’s especially true, she emphasized, “if it is funded. The strategy has the metrics and the dates, now it needs the funding.”

Adams added that the success of the administration’s strategy will rely heavily on public-private partnerships “and the Pollinator Partnership and the many businesses and organizations we work with stand ready to do our part.”