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Pollinator habitat planted within orchard
Photo: The Xerces Society / Kelly Gill

Pollinators, Beneficial Insects, and Farming

The diversity and abundance of native bees and other pollinators on a farm are strongly influenced by two factors: suitable habitat on and near the farm, as well as pesticide exposure. The basic habitat needs of native pollinators in any location are the same – nesting or egg-laying sites, flowers on which to forage, secure overwintering sites, and a refuge from pesticides.  

The value of on-farm pollinator habitat is not limited to increased biodiversity and pollination services.  The presence of high-quality insect habitat on farms provides other benefits, such as ecological pest control, increased food for other wildlife, increased carbon sequestration, as well as improved soil health and water quality, farm aesthetics, and farmer quality of life. 

Pollinator Conservation on Farmland

Since 2005, the work of Xerces’ pollinator and agricultural biodiversity conservation team has led to more than 1.5-million acres of flower-rich habitat on farms, ranches and other working lands. 

We provide direct technical support to farmers and partner conservation planners on the design, enhancement, and management of habitat for pollinators, other beneficial insects, and wildlife. 

Through a long-standing collaboration with the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), our team of Farm Bill partner biologists provide direct assistance in accessing NRCS technical and financial assistance for conservation projects on working lands. 

Our private sector biologists work with food companies, processors, handlers, and individual farmers to carry out sustainability initiatives on farms -- including the deployment of flowering hedgerows, wildflower field borders, insectary cover crops, pesticide risk mitigation, and the use of conservation biological control for pest management. 

Our flagship eco-label program, Bee Better Certified, offers a unique and clear third-party verified certification standard for the farms that are working to benchmark their pollinator conservation systems and to publicly communicate their exciting conservation work through on-pack claims.

Plan, Prepare, Install, and Manage Habitat

From decades of habitat restoration work and research we know that when you give pollinators the habitat they need and protect it from pesticide exposure, their populations improve.  From expansive meadows and mile long hedgerows to backyard butterfly gardens and everywhere in between — every landscape can be optimized to support pollinators.

Manage Pests While Protecting Pollinators

Whether conventional or organic, all pesticides can pose a risk to pollinators if not used properly. Learn about the risks pesticides pose to pollinators, what measures can be used to reduce harm, and the many alternatives available to foster alternative methods of pest control.

Plant Cover Crops

Flowering cover crops provide valuable forage to bees and beneficial insects, and provide additional benefits, including: reduced  erosion, increased soil organic matter, weed suppression, and nutrient cycling. Cover crops can be planted in fields during winter or summer fallow periods, and can also be intercropped between crop rows.

Provide Access to Bee Nesting and Overwintering Sites

Like us, pollinators need a place to call home. To meet this need, farmers can provide pithy-stemmed plants for cavity-nesting bees, undisturbed ground and hedgerows for soil-nesting bees, and butterfly host plants.

Build Climate Resilience

Farmers are taking action to make their own farms and surrounding habitats more resilient to climate variability. Habitat projects on agricultural lands have the dual benefit of supporting pollinators and increasing stormwater infiltration, increasing soil carbon and soil water holding capacity, shading streams, and more. These multiple benefits of permanent habitat lead to more resilient agricultural systems.

Get Bee Better Certified

Learn how your operation can become Bee Better Certified™ and join the movement to make agriculture better for bees. Bee Better Certified ingredients qualify for use of the Bee Better seal on pack, the gold standard in biodiversity food labeling. Since 2017 Bee Better Certified foods ranging from fresh produce, to processing grains, to ice cream ingredients have been highlighted in major retail campaigns and farm media. Conventional and organic operations may be eligible, based on the maintenance of on-farm habitat and the use of integrated pest management practices.

ground beetle in soil

Farm With Soil Life

The life and biological productivity of farms depend on good soil health. Healthy soils are self-sustaining and functioning ecosystems of plants, microbes and animals. Many of those animals are invertebrates that can help imprive your soil. 

Financial and Technical Assistance for Farmland

The Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) provides financial and technical assistance for working lands. Contact your country extension office

Qualifying producers may receive financial and technical assistance directly from Xerces Pollinator Habitat Specialists through current private-sector funding opportunities.

Xerces Consultation Services are also available to farmers and companies interested in Bee Better Certified, the first and only third-party verified pollinator-focused farm and food eco-label.


We have curated some high-level Xerces Society resources for conservation planners and growers interested in implementing habitat restoration and pollinator conservation on farmland.

The Pollinator Conservation Resource Center contains a full list of region-specific resources to aid in evaluating, planning, restoring, maintaining, and protecting pollinator habitat—as well as materials to help you learn about the various invertebrates you might encounter.