Pollinators play a vital role in our world. Not only do 75% of the world’s flowering plants rely on pollinators, but 35% of our food crops require animal pollination (e.g. bees, butterflies and birds) to thrive. In just the US, pollinators contribute $24 billion annually to the economy. Unfortunately, our most prominent pollinators are facing habitat loss, disease, and massive population declines.
If this continues, it could spell serious trouble for farmers, manufacturers, and the world economy as a whole. Though some may assume that the current pollinator crisis is exaggerated, the facts show that it is not. If anything, the situation may be more critical than we care to admit.
Currently, honeybees are responsible for 80% of crop pollination, which equates to $15 billion in US revenue every year. Due to Colony Collapse Disorder, however, the honeybee has seen its population decline by 60% over the past 70 years. Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) is a mysterious phenomenon that results in countless worker bees disappearing. Without worker bees to sustain them, entire hives simply collapse and die out.
If this continues at its current rate, the honeybee could be extinct by 2035.
As members of the same family, bumblebees are well-suited to replace honeybees. Not only are bumblebees generally more efficient due to their size, longer tongues, and fuzzy texture, they’re also native to the US. The honeybee is not. Currently, bumblebees are responsible for just 15% of crop pollination, but there is potential for them taking on more.
Unfortunately, they too are facing serious population declines. Some species of bumblebee have lost as much as 96% of their population.
The monarch butterfly serves not only as a vital pollinator, but as a symbol of nature for North America. This beloved insect is capable of covering much larger distances than any bee species, and it is known to pollinate certain plants that bees ignore.
And yet, it is another specifics that faces extinction.
Between 1994 and 2016, the monarch butterfly population decreased by 80%. Many people are currently petitioning that it be added to the endangered species so that it may be protected.
What Can Be Done?
In order to reverse the current situation and help restore pollinators to healthy population sizes, a multi-faceted approach is needed. This includes restoring lost habitat, minimizing the use of harmful chemicals, and placing an emphasis on pollinator diversity. If these actions are not taken, we could see major pollinators go extinct, which would result in serious problems for all of us.
In the coming weeks, we’ll dive deeper into the consequences of pollinator loss and what can be done about it.
In the meantime, farmers and landowners can take action by establishing pollinator habitat. One of the best ways to do this is by enrolling in the Conservation Reserve Program. To learn more about how easy (and profitable) it can be to establish pollinator habitat CRP, contact FDCE today.