A year ago, Purdue experts launched a new series of publications aimed at protecting pollinators. Over the past several months, new publications have been added to the series. The series will offer homeowners, farmers, beekeepers and commercial applicators tips on protecting pollinators from insecticide exposure and other types of risks.
Pollinators play a critical role in the production of many of our food products, most especially in fruits, vegetables and nuts. In Indiana, apples, blueberries, cucumbers, melons, pumpkins, strawberries, peaches, blackberries and raspberries depend on pollinators. Some other crops may not require pollinators, but have better yields with them.
“Our intent is to provide practical tips that people will find easy to implement,” said Rick Foster, professor of entomology. Foster worked with Fred Whitford, director of the Purdue Pesticide Programs, to develop the series as part of a statewide effort to raise awareness of the importance of pollinators, including honey bees, mason bees, bumble bees, flies, moths, butterflies and hummingbirds.
Funded by a Purdue Extension Issue-Based Action Team award, the series is part of a larger effort by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to protect pollinator health across the country, Foster said.
Many Purdue Extension specialists and educators have since collaborated and contributed to other publications in the series.
Purdue Extension Honey Bee Specialist Greg Hunt, along with Whitford and other Purdue specialists, collaborated on a comprehensive publication entitled, “The Complex Life of the Honey Bee,” available as a download at the online Education Store or for purchase. Some copies may also be available at local Purdue Extension offices. Local honey producers would benefit from this publication.
The varroa mite continues to plague hives for honey producers. Hunt and Krispn Given, from Purdue entomology, co-wrote a publication in the series entitled, “Biology and Control of Varroa Mites in Bee Hives.”
Homeowners would benefit from the publication, “Protecting Pollinators in Home Lawns and Landscapes.” This publication highlights steps we can all take to reduce risk to pollinators, including:
• Read and follow insecticide labels;
• Use insecticides only when necessary;
• Don’t treat areas where pollinators visit;
• Avoid neonicotinoids on flowering trees;
• Maintain buffers between lawns and flowering plants; and
• Embrace alternatives.
Some insecticides now carry a new “Bee Advisory Box” on the product label. It specifies hazards to bees and steps that applicators can take to minimize danger to bees and other pollinators.
Each of the publications in the series is designed for a specific audience. They all explain why pollinators are important, what the problems are, and what hazards exist to pollinators from insecticides and other factors. One publication explains how to establish and conserve pollinator habitats.
Search for publications in the “Protecting Pollinators” series at Purdue Extension’s Education Store, edustore.purdue.edu.
John Woodmansee is an extension educator in Whitley and Noble counties