The declining bee population has encouraged New Mexico State University researchers to test native and non-native plants for their ability to attract and retain pollinators.
David R. Dreesen, agronomist and horticulturist for USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service at the USDA-NRCS Los Lunas Plant Materials Center and Tessa Grasswitz, entomologist, have been working together on the New Mexico Pollinator Project.
The pollinator project began in 2010 as a collaborative effort between NMSU and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Services Los Lunas Plant Materials Program in response to concerns over what is known as Colony Collapse Disorder – a problem that threatens honeybee populations, resulting in economic implications for commercial beekeeping and pollination operations across the nation.
According to the USDA’s statistics, the commercial honeybee population has decreased from 5 million in the 1940s to 2.5 million today. In the U.S., “bee pollination is responsible for more than $15 billion in increased crop value each year,” as stated on the USDA’s website. The problems caused by CCD are so drastic that last month the USDA allocated $8 million to help farmers in five states improve habitat for honeybees.