Managed Pollinator Protection Plan update from Michigan State University Extension

Education and outreach in Michigan to support pollinator health in Michigan through education and outreach for judicious use of pesticides and increasing pollinator habitat.

Honey bee hives in a blueberry field.
Honey bees pollinate Michigan blueberry fields. Photo by Rufus Isaacs, MSU.

About the Michigan Managed Pollinator Protection Plan

The Michigan Managed Pollinator Protection Plan: Communication Strategies for Reducing Pesticide Risk for Managed Pollinators in Michigan discusses potential pesticide risks to managed pollinators in the state of Michigan and provides strategies to support pollinator health. The plan aims to raise awareness about the effects of pesticides on pollinators, provide education to relevant stakeholders, and drive collaborative solutions to protect pollinators in Michigan.

The original draft plan was written in 2018, and since that time, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) has secured annual funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for Michigan State University (MSU) to implement strategies in the Michigan Managed Pollinator Protection Plan. In this article, we provide an update on Michigan State University Extension’s work to advance the Michigan Managed Pollinator Protection Plan from 2018-2021.

You can support MSU’s work to protect and help pollinators by making a gift to Michigan Pollinator Initiative.

Pollinator education for home gardeners and the public

MSU supports the effort of gardeners and the public who work to improve pollinator health by learning about pollinators, planting flowers for pollinators and minimizing pesticide exposure. MSU provides information to pollinator enthusiasts, home gardeners and the public through its Pollinator Champions online course. In this free, self-paced course, individuals learn about the pollinators in Michigan, why pollinators are important, and what you can do to help pollinators. There is also an option where individuals can become Certified Pollinator Champions and receive PowerPoint slides and handouts so they can provide education to others in their area. Home gardeners can learn how to interpret pollinator information on pesticide labels in the Bee Aware brochure.

In 2021, MSU recorded live webinars on pollinator diversity and planting for pollinators, which can be found on the Michigan State University Beekeeping YouTube Channel:

Many people are interested in establishing large-scale pollinator habitat but don’t know where to start. MSU published two articles in 2021 that highlight programs that provide support for large-scale pollinator habitat:

We also hosted a webinar on large-scale pollinator habitat in partnership with the Bee and Butterfly Habitat fund: Pollinator Habitat: Making Every Acre the Best It Can Be and we maintain a website with local contacts and resources for implementing and maintaining pollinator habitat.

MSU printed handouts about supporting pollinators for in-person events and fairs in collaboration with the MSU Extension Master Gardener Smart Gardening program. MSU also printed educational signs for pollinator gardens, including a new sign on pollinator protection in home gardens. These signs can be viewed in pollinator gardens such as the MSU Department of Horticulture Gardens.

Smart Gardening signs in a garden.
Smart Gardening signs in MSU Department of Horticulture’s pollinator garden at MSU’s main campus in East Lansing, Michigan. Photo by Ana Heck, MSU Extension.

More information on planting for pollinators is available from Michigan Pollinator Initiative resources on pollinator plantings and MSU Extension Smart Gardening for Pollinators tip sheets.

Pollinator stewardship information for growers

MSU provides crop-specific recommendations to growers about pollinator stewardship and pesticide use. As part of the Michigan Managed Pollinator Protection Plan, MSU collected input from stakeholders to develop the Blueberry Pollinator Stewardship Guide and Vegetable Pollinator Stewardship Guide (also available in Spanish: Guia del Cuidado de Polinizadores de Arándano and Guía para la Gestión de Polinizadores de Hortalizas). The pollinator stewardship guide for blueberry growers press release was shared by Fruit Growers News, and the pollinator stewardship guide for vegetable growers news release was shared by Vegetable Growers News and Bee Culture’s Catch the Buzz.

MSU presented information on pollinator stewardship at two meetings for blueberry growers in the spring of 2021, including a presentation on the Michigan Managed Pollinator Protection Plan. Printed copies of the pollinator stewardship guides, along with other handouts on supporting pollinator health, were made available to growers at the 2021 Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable, and Farm Market Expo.

MSU also delivered a recorded webinar on pollinator stewardship in orchards to apple and cherry growers.

Honey Bee Health Coalition’s Bee Integrated Demonstration Project made videos that highlighted two pairs of Michigan beekeepers and growers. These videos provide examples of good communication between commercial beekeepers and growers that can improve pollinator health and pollination.

Pollinator protection education for pesticide applicators

MSU received funding from the North Central Integrated Pest Management Center in 2020 and 2021 to coordinate a national working group of individuals working on managed pollinator protection plans (MP3s). This group contains members from 17 states and aims to share resources, support states that are drafting or implementing managed pollinator protection plans and develop pollinator protection educational materials for certified pesticide applicators. Educators who present at pesticide recertification credit clinics can request a scripted presentation and handout on pollinator protection by contacting Ana Heck.

Since 2019, MSU pollinator educators have given over a dozen presentations on pollinator protection to certified pesticide applicators at pesticide recertification credit clinics. MSU has provided pollinator education at certified pesticide education clinics since 2015, both independently and with collaboration with Michigan Nursery and Landscape Association.

MSU wrote an appendix for the Michigan Private and Commercial Applicator Core Manual in 2019 so that people preparing for pesticide applicator certification can learn about pollinators, pollinator health and ways to reduce pesticide exposure. MSU shared this chapter with other states so that they could incorporate similar information into their training programs for pesticide applicators.

For more information on the Michigan Managed Pollinator Protection Plan, please visit:

Staying connected with MSU Extension and Michigan Pollinator Initiative

Donations help MSU further its impact to provide education to growers, pesticide applicators, home gardeners, beekeepers and the public on how to improve pollinator health. You can support MSU’s work to protect and help pollinators by making a gift to Michigan Pollinator Initiative.

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