Science and Consulting

Pollinator Partnership (P2) is an international leader in pollinator science, management, and conservation. Our team of staff scientists conducts current research addressing key questions and concerns in land management, agriculture, and wildland conservation. We work for pollinators in the field, in the lab, and through policy. Our research results are translated into action through our network of conservation and outreach associates.

As the largest organization in the world dedicated to pollinator issues, P2 provides the highest level of scientific advising and consultation services to public and private organizations. Our original investigations and collaborative efforts support pollinators and provide essential information for positive change. Find our more about our targeted efforts below.

Field Research

P2 scientist sampling pollinators visiting the locally threatened Santa Susana Tar Plant in Canoga Park, Los Angeles

Honey bees and native bees in forest ecosystems: 

What is the best management practice for pollination services on production forest landscapes? How do pollinators impact wildlife food availability in these managed landscapes? And most importantly, how are honey bees and native bees interacting on this landscape? Pollinator Partnership (P2) is conducting field research in production timberlands in Southern Mississippi to understand how the pollinators in this unique system interact with local land use.

Managing native bees with food and housing near heirloom agriculture:

Pollinators need food and shelter to survive and thrive. P2 is working with a local partner, Native Seeds SEARCH, to study how pollinator populations can increase with food plantings and nest site provisioning and how this might improve local seed production. If more nest sites are available will you get more bees, and more importantly, a yield increase? Understanding how pollinators can be managed to increase agricultural productivity is important for sustainable farming.

Restoration, Monitoring and Management

A reseeded hillside is part of a landscape restoration program in Southern California.

Making utility landscapes more pollinator-friendly: 

Integrative Vegetation Management (IVM) is a technique used by utility companies to combat weeds, invasive species, and manage landscapes to help minimizes negative environmental impacts. Many of these techniques can create a landscape that is also good for pollinators. Pollinator Partnership (P2)  is working with local utilities in California to fine-tune IVM techniques to create truly pollinator-friendly systems. 

Integrating pollinator conservation into soil and water treatment systems: 

Native plants are often used in restoration and remediation ecology to stabilize hillsides, prevent soil erosion, and help naturally filter water. Environmental restoration programs can have a lot more benefit if important pollinator-attractive species are integrated into their design. P2 is actively targeting both pollinator conservation and landscape restoration at a large restoration site in Southern California. 

Creating monarch butterfly habitat in key migration zones: 

Monarch butterflies undertake an epic migration as they fly from Southern Canada into Northern Mexico. Unfortunately, this migration is threatened due to habitat loss in key overwintering location. In an effort to help monarchs find sites to feed and rest along their journey, P2 is restoring habitat by planting milkweeds and nectar plants at corporate and industrial landscapes. 

Monitoring the pollinators of threatened and endangered plant species: 

Understanding the pollinator systems of threatened plants is essential to survival and restoration plans. In Southern California, P2 is studying the pollinator associations of the federally listed Braunton’s milkvetch (Astragalus brauntonii) and the locally endemic and threatened Los Angeles species Santa Susana Tar Plant (Deinandra minthornii). A key element of this study is the impact of pollinator visits on seed viability and how overall landscape-level management and conservation can help local plant populations. 

Ecosystem Service Evaluation

Pollinator hedge rows on farms that provide additional food to local native bees.

In-farm hedge rows and crop productivity:

Research indicates that having additional feeding habitat in the form of planted wildflowers for pollinators near a crop field increases yields. P2 is partnering with local farmers in Ohio and Ohio State University to conduct on-farm evaluations of these benefits in order to develop tools that farmers can use to make better choices about their land management. 

Conservation reserves for pollinators:

New pollinator provisions in the Conservation Reserve Program aim to increase populations of native bees and the ecosystem services they provide. P2 is working with our government partners to measure the outputs of these systems and to develop metrics for assessing the value of targeted seeding programs.

Policy and Conservation

Gaillardia spp. are one of many very attractive flowers preferred by native bees.

Reducing the impacts of pesticides on pollinators: 

In 2008 an industry survey identified a significant knowledge gap with respect to beneficial insects and pesticide application techniques, as well as an overwhelming desire for educational materials. With better guidelines and continuing education programming unintended kills of crop pollinators can be avoided, pollination services secured, and crop productivity increased. P2 is working with a diverse set of stakeholders to develop a training package that will synthesize best management practices for pesticide application into practical and applied technical tools for securing pollination services and ensuring crop yields. 

Read the latest from the OPERA Research Center on bee health in Europe.

Read the latest: SETAC Pellston Workshop on Pesticide Risk Assessment for PollinatorsView the 45 Page Report by clicking here.

Bombus White Paper:

The North American Pollinator Protection Campaign (NAPPC), Pollinator Partnership’s largest initiative, produced a white paper about the status and potential effects of non-native bumble bees, such as Bombus terrestris, on native populations of bumble bees and other pollinators. This project is a response to questions raised by scientists and policymakers in North America following the initial importation of the European bumble bee species, Bombus terrestris, to Mexico for greenhouse tomato production. 

Link »

Highways Bee Act: 

Highway rights-of-way represent about 17 million acres of opportunity for significant reductions in mowing and maintenance to reduce costs while improving habitat for pollinators. Reductions in roadside mowing, combined with enhanced plantings of native forbs and grasses, can provide economic benefits, reduced carbon emissions, and critical habitat for pollinators. This legislation supports and builds on innovative Integrated Vegetation Management (IVM) efforts in a growing number of State Departments of Transportation by directing the Secretary of Transportation to use existing authorities, programs, and funding. The bipartisan legislation is under consideration as part of the transportation reauthorization process. 

Click here to find out more about this initiative. 

P2 Science Publications

A controlled pollinator exclusion experiment testing for pollinator dependence in wild plants.

Buchmann, S. 2011. Moths on the Flatbed Scanner: The Art of Joseph Scheer.
     Insects 2011, 2, 1 - x

    ( It can be located as follows:  ISSN 2075-4450
      www.mdpi.com/journal/insects)

Gutierrez, R.V., D.W. Roubik, F. J. Guemex-Ricalde, S. Buchmann and Wilberto Colli-Ucan.
    2012. Journal of Apicultural Research, 

Wojcik, V.A. and S. Buchmann. 2012. A review of pollinator conservation and management on infrastructure supporting rights-of-way. Journal of Pollination Ecology- Cholula Special Issue: 7(3) 2012: 16-26

Wojcik, V.A. 2011. Partnerships for Pollinators and Power. Transmission and Distribution World. June pp 30-31.

Wojcik, V.A. and J.R. McBride. 2011. Common factors influence bee foraging in urban and wildland landscapes. Urban Ecosystems, DOI 10.1007/s11252-011-0211-6  Wojcik, V.A. 2011. Resource abundance and distribution drive bee visitation within developing tropical urban landscapes. Journal of Pollination Ecology. 4(7): 48-56, Click here to view.

Wojcik, V.A. 2011. Urban Habitats City size, regional landscape context, and local resource characteristics influence patterns of bee occurrence: A case study from northwestern Costa Rica. Urban Habitats Volume 7: www.urbanhabitats.org, online: http://urbanhabitats.org/v07n01/beeoccurence_full.html

Wojcik, V.A. 2011. Bees (Hymenoptera: Apoidea) utilizing Tecoma stans (L.) Juss. Ex Kunth(Bignoniaceae) in urban landscapes: A comparison of occurrence patterns and community composition in three cities in northwestern Costa Rica Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society, 84(3): in press Click here for Costa Rica Data

Consulting and Corporate Sustainability

A honey bee approaches gall berry in the forest landscape of Southern Mississippi.

Pollinator Partnership is a leader in protecting pollinators by improving landscape health. We provide technical assistance; program support, evaluation, and monitoring; restoration services; training; and peer-reviewed assessments of policy and science.

We focus on pollinators and their ecosystem services in agricultural, urban, industrial, public, and private landscapes. To find out how we can work together to improve your environmental stewardship or to rehabilitate your landscape contact consulting@pollinator.org

Pollinator Partnership Research Updates

Grizzly bears like honey too! One of our Montana field sites had its season cut short, but we still got the data we needed.

P2’s Pollinator Service CRP study is looking at how different conservation practices and seed mixes in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) impact native pollinators and honey bees. Field studies are the best way to collect data on how ecological systems really function, but this also means that you don’t have the same control over variables that you might in a lab. CRP lands are intended for wildlife and they are doing their job! We’ve gotten great results on bees and other pollinators across four states in our study. In Montana CRP lands support prong horn, sage grouse, and other small and large mammals – like grizzle bears. Bears do love bee hives. They love eating honey and protein-filled larvae, and they are willing to suffer the stings to get a snack. We’ve been lucky enough over three years not to have had any curious bears at our hives, until this year! Not to worry. Our equipment is unharmed and while there is a mess to clean-up we have all of the data up to peak honey flow. Next year it might be a good idea to invest in a bear fence! Stay tuned for final updates as our CRP study comes to an end in 2015.

Endangered Plants Get Boost from P2 in Southern California

The spring bloom is winding down and making way for summer in the Santa Susana Mountains that sit between Simi Valley and Ventura, just north of Hollywood, in Southern California. Last week P2 scientists and field staff were out collecting data on the pollinators of Braunton's milk-vetch (Astragalus brauntonii) – an endangered species with a limited population at the Santa Susana Field Lab restoration site.

Braunton's milk-vetch is a fire adapted species native to the coastal shrub lands of Southern California. Development and years of fire suppression have severely limited habitat opportunities. As part of our review of pollinator ecosystems at Santa Susana Field Lab P2 scientists are documenting the pollinator relationships of this endangered plant. Its bloom is short and seasonal, but its purple flowers are visited by carpenter bees, leafcutter bees, bumble bees, and honey bees. Knowing the plant-pollinator interactions of a species is essential for conservation and management. Background on this endangered species is very limited; our fieldwork is providing some of the first structured data on the pollinators of A. brauntonii.

North Carolina Farmers and Pollinators Get a Boost  from Burt's Bees and Pollinator Partnership

With support from Burt's Bees' The Greater Good Foundation, the North Carolina Bee Buffer Project is officially in the ground! The project brings together business and industry, government, academia and the non-profit sector to work with farmland across North Carolina to enhance pollinator habitat. 

There are 8.5 million acres of farmland in North Carolina represented by over 50,000 farms with an average of 175 acres per farm. North Carolina farms produce pollinator-dependent fruits and vegetables, including cucumbers, squash, apples, tomatoes, blueberries, strawberries, and peppers. The primary focus of this project is centered on creating pollinator habitat in collaboration with the fruit and vegetable farms to reach Burt's Bees' goal of impacting 10,000 acres for pollinators by 2020. That means bees across North Carolina will be invited to forage on plentiful nutrition in the planted areas and nearby pollinator dependent crops. 

At the end of April, P2 installed the inaugural bee buffers, one in Graham and the other in Durham, North Carolina. These pilot gardens will be used as research and demonstration gardens to get other farms interested in planting bee buffers, develop technical guidance, and develop North Carolina-specific planting lists with NRCS. The P2 planting crew planted over 4,200 plants in two days during tornado conditions. A huge thanks to our volunteers who joined the planting effort!

 

P2 Provides Much-Needed Assessment for Agriculture:
Securing Pollinator Health and Crop Protection: Communication and Adoption of Farm Management Techniques in Four Crops

Pollinator Partnership (P2) was contracted by the USDA and EPA to conduct a review of crop protection best management practices (BMPs) when considering the health and safety of pollinating insects.

P2 examined four cropping systems in the United States to give a fair example of the current state and awareness of pollinator protection in agriculture. Almond, apple, and melon crops were chosen due to their dependence on insect pollination. The fourth crop, corn, though pollinated by wind, was chosen as a result of its extensive production and potential for contamination of toxic pesticides.

Overall, BMPs during bloom are understood and pollinator protection is made a priority for most crop growers and applicators. Common practices include carefully reading product labels, night-spraying, and equipment maintenance. Protection methods in pre and post bloom periods are less prevalent, sometimes nonexistent. Resources available on a regional or state scope are inconsistent.

This review focuses on, but is not limited to, honey bee protection due to their wide-spread use in many commercial cropping systems. BMPs for pest, fungus, and disease management can be designed to safeguard both pollinators and crop production.

P2 hopes that this report will lead to the implementation of year round and geographic specific BMPs with an emphasis in communication and user friendly resources. This report will be made  available to the public soon.