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Kansas Biology Technical Note KS-37 (Revised)

September 15, 2016

Subject: ECS – Biology – Pollinator Biology and Habitat Technology

Purpose. Provide guidance on how to plan for, protect, and create habitat for pollinators in agricultural settings. Revision includes monard

Effective Date. Effective upon receipt

This technical note provides information on how to plan for, protect, and create habitat for pollinators in agricultural settings. It focuses on native bees, the most important pollinators in temperate North America, but also addresses the habitat needs of butterflies and, to a lesser degree, other beneficial insects.

Worldwide, there are an estimated 20,000 species of bees with approximately 4,000 species native to the United States (U.S.). The non-native European honeybee, Apis mellifera, is the most important crop pollinator in the U.S. However, the number of honeybee colonies is in decline because of disease and other factors, making native pollinators even more important to the future of agriculture. Although this technical note contains information that can be beneficial to honeybees, application of practices contained within may not optimize honey production. Native bees provide free pollination services and are often specialized for foraging on particular flowers such as squash, berries, or orchard crops. This specialization results in more efficient pollination and the production of larger and more abundant fruit from certain crops. Native bees contribute an estimated $3 billion in crop pollination annually to the U.S. economy.

Undeveloped areas on and close to farms can serve as long-term refugia for native wild pollinators. Protecting, enhancing, or providing habitat is the best way to conserve native pollinators and at the same time provide pollen and nectar resources that support local honeybees. On farms with sufficient natural habitat, native pollinators can provide all of the pollination for some crops.

Pollinators have two basic habitat needs: a diversity of flowering native or naturalized plants and egg-laying or nesting sites. The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) can assist landowners with providing adequate pollinator habitat by, for example, suggesting locally appropriate plants and offering advice on how to provide nesting or egg-laying habitat.

(signed) ANDREW G. BURR, Acting for

R. Dean Krehbiel
State Resource Conservationist

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