Recommendation: Private-sector funding mechanisms for honey bee health and technology transfer from federal, state, and university research facilities should be created and enhanced to meet pollination needs. Industry check-off programs, which now cover crop commodities and honey, could add honey bee pollination services to the scope of existing programs. Check off programs collect funds from an agricultural commodity group to support research and promote the commodity. This private-sector effort could complement federally funded basic research efforts and promote translational research.1

Consequences of Decline

Pollinator declines will not jeopardize food supplies because grains—the world’s primary sources of dietary energy—do not depend upon animal pollinators. However, supplies of animal-pollinated foods—fruits, vegetables, and some nuts—would be affected. Among the most conspicuous demonstrable consequences of changing pollinator status in agriculture are the rising costs of pest control in apiculture (and hence rising costs for honey bee rental) that accrue from the mite management required to maintain stable honey bee populations. Honey bee rental costs also are rising because of an increase in demand from almond growers that resulted from acreage increases and seasonal instability in honey bee populations. Despite overwhelming reliance on one species, few alternative actively managed species are being used. And despite evidence of their efficacy as crop pollinators, wild species are not being exploited to the extent possible.


Recommendation: USDA should establish discovery surveys for crop pollinators throughout the range of crops in North America to identify the contributions of wild species to agricultural pollination.

WILD POLLINATORS

Status

The committee found that the strength of the evidence for population status varies from one taxon to another. In parts of their ranges, the declines in several vertebrate pollinator species, particularly bats, are evidenced by conservation program monitoring. Long-term studies by individual investigators and regional Heritage Programs also provide evidence for declines (and possible extinction in some cases) among bumble bee species and some

1

Translational research is the process of applying ideas, insights, and discoveries generated through basic scientific inquiry to industrial or agricultural uses.



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