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Integrated pest and pollinator management in insect pollinated crops

While farmers benefit from pollination by managed and wild bees, intensive farming represents challenges to bee health. One such challenge is pesticide exposure, which can directly kill bees but also reduce their ability to find food, grow and reproduce. We currently have very limited information on how bees are exposed to pesticides in real agricultural landscapes and how this varies with bee species, landscape context, crops grown and over time.

We will provide such exposure information for three bee species, along a landscape complexity gradient and for two crops, during and after bloom. We also identify high risk pesticide uses for pollinators, evaluate the effects on bumble bees and work with farmers and their advisors to identify less risky pest management that would be feasible to implement. This will provide a method and information to integrate pollinator health into integrated pest management, that currently lack specific consideration of pollinators even in insect pollinated crops.

Our project will support management and policy for healthy pollinator populations and support integrated pest and pollinator management (IPPM), focusing on the two insect pollinated crops apple and oilseed rape.

Pollinating insects sitting on flowers. Photo collage.