Pollinators are important members of various land ecosystems. How we manage these ecosystems and landscapes therefore plays a critical role in long-term pollinator health. The expansion of urban, suburban, and agricultural areas reduces pollinator habitat and access to food. Intensive chemical use in these areas harms these beneficial organisms. Pesticide applications to manage weeds and insects along roadsides, in forestland, parks, and rights-of-ways expose bees, birds, butterflies and other beneficial organisms to acute and sublethal levels of pesticides, which can result in reproductive abnormalities, impaired foraging, and even death.
Eliminating hazardous pesticide use along with the planting of forage and habitat areas with native vegetation are the best options for conserving pollinators.
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Download a two page bi-fold brochure version of this information, Managing Landscapes with Pollinators in Mind to take with you!
Backyard trees, gardens and beekeeping are great ways to support biodiversity and pollinators. Intentionally providing water, food and forage to pollinators will encourage and boost pollinatorpopulations in your community.
What to do…
- Plant colorful, bee-attractive flowering plants. Don’t have a garden? Balcony and window plants are also great ways to support pollinators.
- Encourage birds with bird baths and seed.
- Plant an organic garden.
- Know your weeds – create a healthy, organic lawn.
- Organic Lawn Care 101 - simple steps to convert your lawn to organic.
- Do not spray pesticides, especially when pollinators are present. See a list of neonicotinoid products to especially avoid.
- Pledge your organically managed yard or park as a pollinator-friendly Pesticide Free Zone.
- Map your organic landscape on Honeybee Haven.
- See our BEE Protective Habitat Guide for more information on bee-attractive flowers.
- See our Do-It-Yourself Biodiversity for hints about increasing biodiversity, which supports pollinators.
Least-Toxic Alternative Options
For use in Home and Garden:
Least-Toxic Control of Pests in the Home and Garden
The Safer Choice
Gateway on Pesticide Hazards and Safe Pest Management
OMRI List of Products that Meet Organic Standards
Millions of miles of roads, utility lines, railroad corridors and other types of rights-of-way (ROWs) are treated with pesticides to control unwanted plants and insects. Some states have addressed the risk of using pesticides along ROWs by developing integrated pest management (IPM) programs, restricting when and where pesticides can be applied on ROWs and/or providing no-spray agreements. Planting native vegetation, using mechanical, biological, and least-toxic vegetation control methods are effective in reducing and eliminating toxic pesticide applications.
What to do…
- Encourage your community to develop an integrated roadside vegetation management program for roadside management.
- Establish a roadside wildflower program that plants native flower and grass species, especially those that are attractive to bees and other pollinators.
- Cut, girdle, mow or use grazing animals when possible as mechanical means to eradicate unwanted vegetation.
- Avoid pesticides such as 2,4-D, glyphosate (Roundup), dicamba, picloram, triclopyr for roadside management. Use mechanical and least-toxic options if needed. Look to our Pesticide Gateway page for more information on pesticides.
Ten Reasons to Plant a Meadow
Adapted from Urban and Suburban Meadows
1. No chemical pesticides/herbicides or fertilizers. Eliminating toxic chemicals protects beneficial soil organisms that supports the ecosystem, the plants and animals that live there, and the people and pets.
Many species of wildlife depend on prairie and grassland habitat. Unfortunately, these habitats are being replaced by human development, and many grassland birds have declined in recent years due to the lack of grassland habitat. Grass and flower species that are native to your region must therefore be encouraged. Meadows and prairies require minimal disturbance to the landscape, are low maintenance, reduce the need for pesticide application, and provide many more different native plant, insect and animal species than monocultures. They also provide year-round cover and food for pollinators and other wildlife.
What to do…
- Plant a meadow garden of native grasses combined with colorful perennials.
Forests provide habitat for a wide range of wildlife, supplies timber, and can be a place for recreation. Over harvesting of forest lands and increasing human encroachment reduces forest acreage which in turn decreases habitat for wild pollinators. Forest management programs that apply toxic pesticides to control weeds or insects can also target forest birds and beneficial insects. It is therefore important that forestry management include organic techniques that do not rely on toxic pesticides, but uses biological and mechanical controls.
What to do…
- Support forest restoration efforts when possible.
- Plant seedlings native to your region.
- Maintain biologically important areas such as virgin and old-growth forests and wetlands.
- Encourage natural succession after harvesting when possible, but active replanting of forest land is also encouraged.
About 20 percent of U.S. land area is cropland. Most of these crops undergo heavy chemical-intensive production. Corn and soybeans, which account for the majority of cropland, are treated with systemic pesticides and/or are genetically engineered (GE) to tolerate pesticide applications. Systemic pesticides and GE cropland not only destroy natural pollinator habitat, but also exposes pollinators and other wildlife to toxic pesticides.
Organic Farming Supports Pollinators
Organic agriculture effects good land stewardship and reduces hazardous chemical exposures in the environment and for workers on the farm. The use of soil building practices, least-toxic chemical inputs and sustainable management methods, which embrace crop rotation and crop diversity help support populations of wild and domestic bees, birds and other wildlife. Find out more about organic agriculture.
What to do…