Protecting Great Lakes landscapes for healthy pollinators

Tiny but mighty pollinators are an essential contributor to many of Michigan’s high-value fruits and vegetables.

Pollinators

Tiny but mighty pollinators are an essential contributor to many of Michigan’s high-value fruits and vegetables. In the past 10 winters, however, American beekeepers have lost a high proportion of their colonies, with some of the biggest losses recorded in the Midwest. At the same time, some wild bee species once common in the Great Lakes region, such as the rusty-patched bumble bee, have become extremely rare. In response over the past decade, Michigan State University has been bolstering its pollinator expertise. This past summer, MSU launched a new $1 million project funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture aimed at improving Great Lakes landscapes to support healthy pollinators. Led by entomology professor and Extension specialist Rufus Isaacs, the team is building on previous work to explore the complexities of poor pollinator health.

  • Michigan has over 460 species of wild bees.
  • The project’s outcomes will include improved best management practices for pollinator health to serve beekeepers, farmers, gardeners and other landowners in four key regions of the state: southwestern, central, eastern and northwestern Michigan. The team, including several students, is measuring pollinator diversity and relevant bee health intensively within these regions.
  • The team has already collected well over 5,400 pollinators at its research sites.

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