Insects that pollinate crops are vital for Nebraska’s agriculture industry, but many species have been dying in large numbers in recent years.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is trying to change that. The agency’s Gary Van Vreede says they’re trying to help various groups improve the habitat for pollinators like bees and butterflies.
Van Vreede says, “If we can just get the nectar species and the flowering species out there that they need, we can help them provide the habitat and the nectar and the food source that they need to thrive.”
Van Vreede says insecticides and other chemicals are taking a toll on honey bees and monarchs.
“It’s been a huge problem and the decline in the number of pollinator species has been astronomical,” he says. “We’re doing whatever we can to help them out.”
When Nebraskans put new plants in the ground, he’s asking they to keep the bugs that pollinate crops in mind as it doesn’t take a lot of nectar-producing plants to make a big difference.
“Having these little stop-over areas is very important,” Van Vreede says. “They don’t need a big area like a lot of grassland birds. As they’re moving along and traveling along, these little spots can provide a lot of benefit.”
There are about 50,000 bee colonies in Nebraska which produce more than 3.75-million pounds of honey per year. Nationwide, honey bees pollinate more than 90 cultivated crops with a combined annual value of $10 billion.