Pollinator protection programs and resources from Michigan State University Extension

Supporting 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 Pollinator Protection Plan

Managed Pollinator Protection Plans are part of a national strategy by the EPA for Pollinator Protection. Michigan’s original draft plan, “Communication Strategies for Reducing Pesticide Risk for Managed Pollinators in Michigan,” was written in 2018. This document discusses potential pesticide risks to managed pollinators in the state of Michigan and provides strategies to support pollinator health. Since that time, Michigan State University (MSU) has worked with the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) to secure annual funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for MSU to implement strategies outlined in the plan. 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. In this article, we provide an update on MSU Extension’s work to advance the Michigan Pollinator Protection Plan.

The plan is intended to be a living document and is based on stakeholder input. If you would like to contribute suggestions for updates to the plan, please contact Ana Heck.

Pollinator education for home gardeners and the public

MSU supports efforts 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.

MSU recorded 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 case articles that provide examples of experiences and funding to incorporate pollinator habitat on multiple acres.

MSU also maintains a website with local contacts and resources for implementing and maintaining pollinator habitat.

MSU shares handouts about supporting pollinators for in-person events and fairs in collaboration with the MSU Extension Master Gardener Smart Gardening program.

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 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). Printed copies of the pollinator stewardship guides, along with other handouts on supporting pollinator health, are made available to growers at the Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable, and Farm Market Expo.

MSU Extension also supports growers with information on pollinator supportive trees and shrubs for farm and orchard windbreaks to increase pollinator habitat on their farms.

Graphic of a pesticide sprayer in a field with bees
Graphic from the Pollinator Protection for Pesticide Applicators Online Course. Illustration by Iris Kormann.

Honey Bee Health Coalition

MSU Extension is a steering committee member of the Honey Bee Health Coalition. The Honey Bee Health Coalition’s Bee Integrated Demonstration Project featured Michigan beekeepers and growers in videos highlighting good communication to support pollination and pollinator health.

In spring 2022, the coalition’s steering committee meeting was held in Traverse City, Michigan. Members discussed resources and initiatives to improve honey bee health.

Photo of steering committee members
Members of the Honey Bee Health Coalition at the steering committee meeting in Traverse City, Michigan. Photo by Honey Bee Health Coalition.

Pollinator protection education for pesticide applicators

MSU has provided pollinator education at certified pesticide education clinics since 2015, both independently and in collaboration with Michigan Nursery and Landscape Association.

MSU wrote an appendix for the Michigan Private 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 can incorporate similar information into their training programs for pesticide applicators.

Since 2020, MSU has received funding from the North Central Integrated Pest Management Center to coordinate the national Managed Pollinator Protection Plans Working Group of individuals working on pollinator protection plans (MP3s) and related pollinator stewardship initiatives. This group aims to share resources, support states that are drafting or implementing pollinator protection plans, and develop pollinator protection educational materials for certified pesticide applicators.

The working group developed a presentation called “Getting Tough on Pests and Going Soft on Pollinators” to give to pesticide applicators. Educators who train pesticide applicators at recertification credit clinics can request a scripted presentation and a handout on pollinator protection by contacting Ana Heck.

The Managed Pollinator Protection Plans Working Group also developed two online courses, Pollinator Protection for Pesticide Applicators and Pollinator Protection for Land Managers. Upon course completion, certified pesticide applicators in Michigan can request one restricted use pesticide (RUP) credit.

For more information on the Michigan 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.


Thank you to the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development for securing funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for Michigan State University to implement strategies in the Michigan Pollinator Protection Plan.

This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Crop Protection and Pest Management Program through the North Central IPM Center (2018-70006-28883).

This work is supported by the Crop Protection and Pest Management Program [grant no 2021-70006-35450] from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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