Understanding how land-use change in the Northern Great Plains affects pollinator health and pollination services

Science Center Objects

Societal dependence on insects for pollination of agricultural crops has risen amidst concerns over global pollinator declines.  Habitat loss and lack of forage have been implicated in the decline of managed and native pollinators in the U.S. Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center is conducting a regional research project to understand how land use affects honey bee colony health, and the economic revenue that beekeepers incur during the pollination season and when making new colonies the subsequent spring.  Specifically, we are investigating how land use affects honey bee colony population size during the growing season (May–September), and whether these impacts have subsequent influence on colony population size and survival for almond pollination in central California the following February. Our work highlights the downstream effects of factors driving land-use decisions on the ability of beekeepers to provide robust honey bee colonies to support the pollination industry on a national scale.  It also demonstrates the direct linkages among grassland habitat in the Northern Great Plains, bee health, and pollination services rendered elsewhere in the US.