Since being introduced to America in 1622, the honeybee has become our most prominent pollinator. In fact, the honeybee is responsible for $15 billion in US crops per year. But times are changing. Honeybees have seen their numbers sharply decline over the past few decades due to Colony Collapse Disorder.
With no clear answers on what causes CCD or how it can be reversed, many experts are championing an increase in pollinator diversity. Monarch butterflies have proven to be useful pollinators, but with their own numbers dwindling, further diversity is needed.
Thankfully, there’s another member of the bee family that can help: the bumblebee.
Bumblebees as Pollinators
Due to their size and bright yellow stripes, bumblebees are probably the most noticeable member of the bee family. Though many people panic at the site of a bumblebee, their presence is very welcomed in the agricultural world.
That is because bumblebees are great pollinators. The furry coat that covers the entirety of a bumblebee’s body is great for picking up pollen. This allows bumblebees to carry considerably more pollen at a time than a honeybee. Bumblebees are also capable of operating in lower temperatures than honeybees, which means they pollinate for more of the year.
Since bumblebees are native to the US, they’re technically better suited to operate here than honeybees.
Currently, bumblebees pollinate about 15% of crops.
The Decline of Bumblebees
Unfortunately, bumblebees have seen their numbers reduced in modern times. In fact, select species of bumblebees have experienced population loss as high as 96%. There are numerous reasons for this, including disease, harmful pesticides, invasive species, and loss of habitat.
Due to modern farming techniques and deforestation, bumblebees (along with many other pollinators) lack enough space to thrive. Thankfully, this can be changed.
Making Space for Bumblebees with CRP
One of the best ways to promote pollinator diversity and save species like the bumblebee is by turning unproductive or unused farmland into pollinator habitat. Through initiatives like CRP, landowners and farmers receive payment from the government in exchange for converting land to pollinator habitat.
With CRP’s cost-share benefits, much of the conversion expense is covered.
However, converting land to pollinator habitat is a delicate process. Additionally, CRP has numerous guidelines and restrictions to follow that can be confusing to newcomers. That’s where we can help.
FDCE offers turn-key CRP services that handle the establishment process for you. From selecting, purchasing, and planting seed to herbicide application, we have you covered. We even handle documentation and reporting, providing copies to both you and FSA.
If you want to benefit from the presence of pollinators while receiving money for unproductive or underused land, contact us today. We can even assist in developing a CRP seed mix that caters to pollinators such as the bumblebee.