The health and diversity of pollinators has in recent years become a concern on the local, state, national and international levels. Pollinators are essential to human nutrition and to the survival of natural ecosystems – it has been estimated that 75% of human food crops need animal pollination to produce their full yield potential (Klein et al. 2007) and that 87% of flowering plants in natural systems are pollinated by animals (Ollerton et al. 2011).
Many kinds of animals are pollinators, including hummingbirds, butterflies, moths, beetles, flies and wasps as well as bees, but this website focuses mainly on bees because they are the most important pollinators of crops in our state, and they are also the focus of recent concerns.
The health of honey bees is important to beekeepers for production of honey and wax and to farmers and gardeners for their pollination services. Honey bees have been under serious stress in Connecticut since the arrival of parasitic mites in the state in the late 1980s, but other factors, such as viruses and other pathogens, exposure to pesticides, and the decrease in open flowering meadows for bee forage, may also be contributing to the colony losses experienced by beekeepers.
Current records of bees collected in the state include 348 other species of bees in addition to honey bees. These include 16 species of bumble bees and hundreds of species in other genera less familiar to the general public. Many species of bumble bees and other bees are important pollinators of crop plants, and most bees in all families are pollinators of native plants (although there are some bee species in several families that live as parasites in the nests of other bees).
Important losses in species diversity of bumble bees have been documented here in Connecticut, across North America, and around the world. In Connecticut, two bumble bee species are considered likely to have been extirpated from the state and another is considered threatened, according to the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. Because other species of bees have not been as intensively monitored, their current status is unknown.
The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station has responsibility for the state honey bee registration and inspection program (link to Beekeeper Information and Registration here: https://www.ct.gov/caes/cwp/view.asp?a=2818&q=376964#Beekeeper) and also has active research and public information programs on plants used as sources of nectar and pollen by bees, pollination of crop plants such as pumpkin and winter squash, routes and levels of exposure of bees to pesticides, and the diversity of bees in Connecticut.
A new law concerning pollinator health was enacted by the state of Connecticut in the 2016 legislative session. This Public Act (16-17) or https://www.cga.ct.gov/2016/ACT/pa/pdf/2016PA-00017-R00SB-00231-PA.pdf does the following:
- Puts some restrictions on the neonicotinoids insecticides that are most highly toxic to bees
- Creates a Pollinator Advisory Committee from the staff of the Experiment Station
- Requires a study of the Varroa mite attacking honey bees and an evaluation of the possibilities of breeding bees resistant to the mites
- Requires the Experiment Station to create a citizen’s guide to model pollinator habitat
- Promotes establishment of pollinator habitat by various state agencies and by utilities
- Sets qualifications for the state apiary inspector
Pursuant to Section 5 of Public Act No. 16-17 “An Act Concerning Pollinator Health” the following individuals have been appointed to a “Pollinator Advisory Committee”.
- Dr. Richard Cowles (CAES)
- Mr. Mark Creighton, State Beekeeper (CAES)
- Mr. Nelson DeBarros (DEEP)
- Dr. Kirby Stafford III, State Entomologist (CAES)
- Dr. Kimberly Stoner (CAES)
- Best Management Practices for Farmers Using Seeds Treated With Neonicotinoid
Insecticides, Dr. Kimberly Stoner (PDF Format)
- Managing the Varroa Mite for Honey Bees in Connecticut Report by the State Entomologist to the General Assembly (PDF Format)
- A Citizen's Guide to Creating Pollinator Habitat in Connecticut (PDF Format)
- Portraits of a Few Bee Species Native to Connecticut (PDF Format)
- Bees on Alternative Flowering Plants on Vegetable Farms in Connecticut (PDF Format)
- Planting Flowers for Bees in Connecticut (PDF Format)
- Proper Timing to Mow Native Plant Meadows Can Protect Pollinator Habitat (PDF Format)
- Protecting Bees from Pesticides (PDF Format)
- Ground Nesting Bees (PDF Format)
- Pollination of Pumpkin and Winter Squash- Thanks to Bumble Bees! (PDF Format)
Materials from the Conference, Creating and Improving Habitat for Pollinators, 2018
- Richard S. Cowles - Presentation: Diversionary Plantings and Fixed Land Honey Production (PDF Format)
- Steve Munno - Presentation: Creating Habitat for Pollinators at Massaro Community Farm (PDF Format)
- Kimberly Stoner - Sources for Pollinator Plants (PDF Format)
- Nancy Ferlow - Presenation: NRCS Pollinator Programs 2018 (PDF Format)
- Kimberly Stoner - Presentation: Protecting Pollinators from Pesticides (PDF Format)
- Kimberly Stoner - Resource List for Pollinator Habitat and Pesticides (PDF Format)
- Michael Nadeau - Presentation: Site Analysis And Planning Pollinator Plantings (PDF Format)
- NRCS- Some Pollinator Plants for CT (PDF Format)
- Cynthia Rabinowitz- Plant List for Edible Forest Garden (PDF Format)
- Cynthia Rabinowitz - Presentation: Thinking Beyond the Honeybee with Permaculture (PDF Format)
- NRCS - Handout: Butterfly Host Plants (PDF Format)
Materials from the Conference, Creating and Improving Habitat for Pollinators, 2017
- Eric Venturini – Presentation: Pollination Reservoirs Support Wild Bees and Wild Bees Support Growers: Examples from Maine Wild Blueberry (PDF Format)
- Eric Venturini and others – Fact sheet: Enhancing Wild Bees for Crop Pollination – University of Maine (PDF Format)
- Virginia Keith – Presentation: Establishing Pollinator Plantings Organically (PDF Format)
- Virginia Keith – Handout: Establishing Pollinator Plantings Organically (PDF Format)
- Kim Stoner – Presentation: Protection Pollinator Habitat from Pesticides (PDF Format)
- Aaron Hoshide – Presentation: Costs to Create & Maintain Your Pollination Reservoir (PDF Format)
- Emily May – Links to Resources for Pollinator Habitat on Farmland
Materials from the Conference, Successfully Establishing Plants for Pollinators
- Speaker Contact List (PDF Format)
- Planting Pollinator Habitat-- Dr. Cathy Neal, University of New Hampshire (PDF Format)
- Wildflowers for New England Meadows and Pollinator Plantings-- Dr. Cathy Neal, University of New Hampshire (PDF Format)
- Native Perennials by Competitive Level-- Larry Weaner (PDF Format)
- Establishing Pollinator Plantings-- Virginia Keith, Blueberry Hill Organic Farm (PDF Format)
- Establishing Pollinator Plantings Organically Handout-- Virginia Keith, Blueberry Hill Organic Farm (PDF Format)
- Estimating Costs of Pollinator Plantings-- Dr. Aaron Hoshide, University of Maine & Dr. Cathy Neal, University of New Hampshire (PDF Format)
- Bee Pasture Budget, UNH Example--Dr. Aaron Hoshide, University of Maine (Excel Format)
- Detailed Bee Pasture Budget, UNH Example--Dr. Aaron Hoshide, University of Maine (Excel Format)
- Questions for Estimating Cost of Pollinator Pasture-- Dr. Aaron Hoshide, University of Maine & Dr. Cathy Neal, University of New Hampshire (PDF Format)
- Information on Bees and Ways to Help Them (PDF Format)
- Xerces Habitat Assessment Guide for Farms and Agricultural Landscapes: http://www.xerces.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/PollinatorHabitatAssessment.pdf
- Xerces Northeast pollinator plant list: http://www.xerces.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/NortheastPlantList_web.pdf
- Xerces New England pollinator habitat installation guide: http://www.xerces.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/InstallGuideJobSheet_NewEngland_CnsrvCvr.pdf
- Ernst Conservation Seed pollinator mixes (although many of their seed ecotypes are from PA, so if you have CT seed sources you prefer, feel free to swap!): http://www.ernstseed.com/product-category/pollinator-favorites/
- The Integrated Crop Pollination Project: www.projecticp.org (our resources page can be found here).
Pollinator Information and Sources of Funding for Pollinator Habitat from the Connecticut Office of the Natural Resources Conservation Service:
General information on pollinators and the value of pollination:
Cost share programs that provide funding toward pollinator habitat:
Environmental Quality Incentives Program:
Conservation Stewardship Program:
Links to Publications of Jarrod Fowler, Xerces
Cover Cropping for Pollinators and Beneficial Insects:
Stoner, K., Eitzer, B., Cowles, R. 2017. Quantifying Exposure of Bees to Neonicotinoids in Nectar and Pollen of Nursery Plants.
Stoner, K.A. 2016. Current Pesticide Risk Assessment Protocols Do Not Adequately Address Differences Between Honey Bees (Apis mellifera) and Bumble Bees (Bombus spp.). Front. Environ. Sci. doi: 10.3389/fenvs.2016.00079
Stoner, K. A., & Eitzer, B. D. (2013). Using a Hazard Quotient to Evaluate Pesticide Residues Detected in Pollen Trapped from Honey Bees (Apis mellifera) in Connecticut. PloS One, 8(10). e77550. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0077550
http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0077550 (This includes data on pesticide residues in bee pollen from trapping pollen from hives in urban, suburban, mixed agricultural and suburban, and rural sites in the state).
Stoner K.A., B.D. Eitzer, 2012. Movement of Soil-Applied Imidacloprid and Thiamethoxam into Nectar and Pollen of Squash (Cucurbita pepo). PLoS ONE 7(6): e39114. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0039114. http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0039114
Zarrillo, T.A, J.S. Acher, J. Gibbs, and K.A. Stoner. 2016. New and noteworthy records of bees (Hymenoptera: Apoidea: Anthophila) for Connecticut. J. Kansas Entomological Society 89:138-157.
Connecticut Bombus Guide (PDF Format)
Pictorial Key to Female Bumble Bees of Connecticut-- Elaine Evans (used with permission) (PDF Format)
Pictorial Key to Male Bumble Bees of Connecticut-- Elaine Evans (used with permission) (PDF Format)