BEE Protective Managing Landscapes with Pollinators in Mind

Pollinators are important members of various land ecosystems. How we manage these ecosystems and landscapes therefore plays a critical role in long-term pollinator health. The expansion of urban, suburban, and agricultural areas reduces pollinator habitat and access to food. Intensive chemical use in these areas harms these beneficial organisms. Pesticide applications to manage weeds and insects along roadsides, in forestland, parks, and rights-of-ways expose bees, birds, butterflies and other beneficial organisms to acute and sublethal levels of pesticides, which can result in reproductive abnormalities, impaired foraging, and even death.

Eliminating hazardous pesticide use along with the planting of forage and habitat areas with native vegetation are the best options for conserving pollinators.

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Download a two page bi-fold brochure version of this information, Managing Landscapes with Pollinators in Mind to take with you!

Home and Garden

Backyard trees, gardens and beekeeping are great ways to support biodiversity and pollinators. Intentionally providing water, food and forage to pollinators will encourage and boost pollinatorpopulations in your community.

What to do…

Least-Toxic Alternative Options

For use in Home and Garden:
1. Fatty acid soaps/ insecticidal soaps–Commonly used soaps containing potassium and coconut oil are effective in controlling many soft-bodies insects such as aphids, caterpillars, crickets, fleas, flies, and mites. Even with these products, be sure not to spray when bees are present.
2. Horticultural and essential oils–Horticulture oils are effective in controlling aphids, adelgids, spider mites, mealy bugs, sawfly larvae, whiteflies, plant bugs, caterpillars, scales, and some plant diseases like rusts and mildews. Some effective essentials oils include citrus oil, orange oil/d-limonene, garlic, pepper extracts, neem, sabadilla, and tree oils.
3. Microbe-based pesticides–Certain microbes are effective in controlling insect, fungus, and weed pest problems and are virtually nontoxic. Microbial pesticides contain living microorganisms or the toxins they produce as active ingredients. Examples include beneficial nematodes and milky spore.

For more …
Least-Toxic Control of Pests in the Home and Garden
The Safer Choice
Gateway on Pesticide Hazards and Safe Pest Management
OMRI List of Products that Meet Organic Standards

Roadsides and Rights-of-Way

railroad with poppy flowers Stock Photo - 7577656Millions of miles of roads, utility lines, railroad corridors and other types of rights-of-way (ROWs) are treated with pesticides to control unwanted plants and insects. Some states have addressed the risk of using pesticides along ROWs by developing integrated pest management (IPM) programs, restricting when and where pesticides can be applied on ROWs and/or providing no-spray agreements. Planting native vegetation, using mechanical, biological, and least-toxic vegetation control methods are effective in reducing and eliminating toxic pesticide applications.

What to do…

Ten Reasons to Plant a Meadow

Adapted from Urban and Suburban Meadows

1.   No chemical pesticides/herbicides or fertilizers. Eliminating toxic chemicals protects beneficial soil organisms that supports the ecosystem, the plants and animals that live there, and the people and pets.
2.   Native ecosystem benefits. Meadows require minimal disturbance to the native landscape.
3.   Diversity. Meadows are habitats teeming with life. Meadows are home to many more different native plant, insect and animal species than monocultures.
4.   Fuel and labor conservation. Only mow once between November and April.
5.   Sustainable. Meadows thrive using their waste to build soil organic matter that nourishes life.
6.   Year-round habitat. Meadows provide year-round cover and food for insects and wildlife.
7.   Erosion control. The complexity and varying heights of meadow plants will soften rainfall and prevent water from rushing over  the surface of the soil. In addition, the deep root systems hold and stabilize the soil.
8.   Bioremediation. Meadows provide a matrix of microorganisms, fungi, green plants or their enzymes that can restore the natural  environment altered by contaminants to its original condition. This is particularly important around bodies of water.
9.   Low maintenance. Once established, meadows require no watering, raking, pesticides or fertilizers and minimal mowing.
10. Enjoyable. The ever-changing beauty of a meadow evokes a sense of peace and calm, while the activity of its   inhabitants provides endless enjoyment.

Prairies, Meadows, and Other Grasslands

Many species of wildlife depend on prairie and grassland habitat. Unfortunately, these habitats are being replaced by human development, and many grassland birds have declined in recent years due to the lack of grassland habitat. Grass and flower species that are native to your region must therefore be encouraged. Meadows and prairies require minimal disturbance to the landscape, are low maintenance, reduce the need for pesticide application, and provide many more different native plant, insect and animal species than monocultures. They also provide year-round cover and food for pollinators and other wildlife.

What to do…

  • Plant a meadow garden of native grasses combined with colorful perennials.


Forests provide habitat for a wide range of wildlife, supplies timber, and can be a place for recreation. Over harvesting of forest lands and increasing human encroachment reduces forest acreage which in turn decreases habitat for wild pollinators. Forest management programs that apply toxic pesticides to control weeds or insects can also target forest birds and beneficial insects. It is therefore important that forestry management include organic techniques that do not rely on toxic pesticides, but uses biological and mechanical controls.

What to do…

  • Support forest restoration efforts when possible.
  • Plant seedlings native to your region.
  • Maintain biologically important areas such as virgin and old-growth forests and wetlands.
  • Encourage natural succession after harvesting when possible, but active replanting of forest land is also encouraged.


About 20 percent of U.S. land area is cropland. Most of these crops undergo heavy chemical-intensive production. Corn and soybeans, which account for the majority of cropland, are treated with systemic pesticides and/or are genetically engineered (GE) to tolerate pesticide applications. Systemic pesticides and GE cropland not only destroy natural pollinator habitat, but also exposes pollinators and other wildlife to toxic pesticides.

Organic Farming Supports Pollinators
Organic agriculture effects good land stewardship and reduces hazardous chemical exposures in the environment and for workers on the farm. The use of soil building practices, least-toxic chemical inputs and sustainable management methods, which embrace crop rotation and crop diversity help support populations of wild and domestic bees, birds and other wildlife. Find out more about organic agriculture.

What to do…