Published Mar 5, 2012

The Buzz About Best Pollinator Practices

By Tomoko Ogawa

Last summer, along with Iowa State University’s Department of Entomology, we hosted a field day at Field Extension Education Laboratory (FEEL) in Boone to discuss and learn about native beneficial insects, and how to incorporate them in farming practices.

Why care about native bees?

Native beneficial insects provide pollination services and therefore are very important for many crops. They are estimated to contribute $3 billion annually to the agricultural economy in the US (from Organic Farming Practices: Reducing Harm to Pollinators from Farming by Eric Mader).

Some key tips discussed during this field day….

  • Avoid tillage in the areas where nesting bees are concentrated by using no-till or leaving it fallow.
  • Maintain crop diversity to provide forage opportunities for native pollinators.
  • Incorporate flowering crop as a cover crop to provide forage for bees.

To learn more about native pollinators and how to incorporate them in your farming system or in your backyard, The Xerces Society’s website has plenty of great resources:

Photo credit: Adam Varenhorst.