Pollinator Conservation in Minnesota and Wisconsin

Pollinators are an integral part of the environment and agricultural systems of Minnesota and Wisconsin. In the two states, crops like cranberry, apples, sunflower, canola, and various vegetable crops, generate hundreds of millions of dollars for the region’s economy and support thousands of jobs. Minnesota also produces nearly eight million pounds of honey each year, currently valued at over $11 million.

There are roughly 500 species of bees in Minnesota and Wisconsin. The plight of the nonnative honey bee is well publicized. Native bees receive less media attention but are facing significant threats—there are well-documented declines in bumble bees—as are monarch butterflies.

In August 2010 representatives from farm organizations, universities, nonprofit conservation organizations, and state and federal agencies in Minnesota and Wisconsin convened at the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire to examine the status of pollinator conservation efforts in the region.

Pollinator Conservation in Minnesota and Wisconsin: A Regional Stakeholders Report summarizes the primary themes of that stakeholder meeting and identifies recommendations that conserve this essential ecological and economic resource.

The issues highlighted during the stakeholder meeting included:

  • large-scale declines of critical native plants, such as milkweeds, the caterpillar host plants for monarch butterflies
  • increased use of new types of insecticides
  • disappearance of once very common species like the yellow-banded bumble bee
  • cost-share funding to support habitat projects may be inadequate.

Stakeholders developed specific recommendations that offer state and federal policymakers a comprehensive blueprint to help shape conservation priorities, including:

  • greater monitoring of at-risk species by state agencies
  • better training of licensed pesticide users
  • increased use of native wildflowers by transportation agencies for restoring ditches after road construction.