The World of Pollinators

In this module, we take a step back from “pests” and the pesticide treadmill to look at the other insects and creatures involved in natural and agricultural systems. Here, you’ll focus on pollinators. Pollinators transfer pollen and seeds form one flower to another, fertilizing the plant so it can grow and produce food. It has been estimated that pollinators are responsible for at least 30% of the world’s food crops and 90% of our wild plant species. Without pollinators, this food production wouldn’t be possible. It’s estimated that more than $15 billion a year in US crops are pollinated by bees alone. And yet, our pollinators are under threat For instance, honeybees are currently threatened by a variety of factors, but some of which are specifically tied to agricultural practices, including a class of pesticides known as neonicotinoids.

In this module, you’ll start by learning about value of pollinators by watching a film that celebrates the wonder and beauty of these creatures to give you a different view and appreciation of them. Next you’ll explore the ways in which they (and therefor our food supply) are threatened by modern practices around pesticides. You’ll then learn about other ways we can use pest management (rather than pre-emptive pest eradication), in an effort to protect the pollinators that are so crucial to our food supply and world.

Film 1: The Hidden Beauty of Pollination

Pesticides and Bee Populations:

Film 2: The buzz about pesticides

Balance: Protecting Pollinators

Just as important as it is to protect natural enemies of insects, it’s important to protect pollinators. As you’ve learned, agroecology is all about balance. Instead of trying to get rid of all insects through pesticides, we try to keep natural enemies, pollinators and beneficial insects in large, healthy populations to keep insect pests in manageable populations. Below, you’ll find an overview about which farming practices protect pollinators and how to establish pollinator habitat.

Article 1: Agroecological Strategies to Enhance On-Farm Insect Pollinators

Adapted from Nicholls and Altieri | Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education, 2013



Check out these documentaries about bees

Bee Facts from the NRDC