Insect pollinators like bees (honey bees and native bees), moths and butterflies, and pollinator friendly species of beetles and flies are showing a trend of gradual decline across the globe.
By Saikat Basu
A number of natural and anthropogenic factors are responsible for this but the bee populations, in particular, are the worst impacted. Environmental pollution, over application of agro-chemicals, changes in the land use patterns, industrial agriculture, parasitic diseases, lack of sufficient foraging plants, and access to adequate multi-species nutrition are some of the factors impacting bee population significantly. The gradual decline of insect pollinators like bees is alarming since they have direct implications on our future agricultural productivity and also on the stability of fragile natural ecosystems. It is important to note that a large number of crops and wildflowers are exclusively dependent on natural (biological) pollinators like insects, snails and slugs, small birds (humming birds), and mammals (like bats) for pollination. Among all these insect pollinators, bees perform the most significant role in the natural cross pollination of a wide diversity of crops. Under these circumstances, it is absolutely necessary that we conserve our precious insect pollinators to secure the future of crop production and apiculture industries. It is time for us to develop a long term, comprehensive, cost effective, and sustainable conservation model to protect natural pollinators. Let us join our efforts together in saving these friendly pollinators to secure the future of our agriculture, forestry and apiculture industries. Let us establish Pollinator Sanctuaries, Pollinator Gardens or Pollinator Habitats at suitable sites by using appropriate custom-designed Pollinator Mixes. Such Pollinator Mixes could include selected native wildflowers and grasses as well as pollinator friendly annual/biennial/perennial forage legumes and grasses in different proportions suitable for various agro-climatic zones.