Honeybees, Native Bees and Alternative Pollinators

Honeybees, Native Bees and Alternative Pollinators

Pollinators: Southern Region Resources on Honeybees, Native Bees and Alternative Pollinators

Whether you are a farmer, a backyard gardener, a plant lover or an insect enthusiast, recognizing the role pollinators, like bees, play in agriculture and the natural environment shouldn't be overlooked.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, about 80 percent of all flowering plants rely on pollinators to produce seeds, fruits and vegetables. One out of every three bites of food we take is made possible through the work of pollinators, such as the European honeybee and native bee species, like the bumblebee. However, the important role pollinators play in food production and plant biodiversity is in jeopardy due to a variety of factors that affect pollinator survival and population distribution: incidences of disease, habitat loss, environmental impacts, economic development, invasive species and poor agricultural practices.

This topic room includes a collection of educational materials, such as articles, videos, publications and Power Point presentations, developed out of SARE-funded pollinator research for those interested in bees and beekeeping. Through these grant projects, farmers, researchers and conservation groups strive to protect pollinators in a number of different ways -- exploring the cause of Colony Collapse Disorder in honeybees, breeding honeybees to strengthen their resistance to pests and diseases, protecting native bee habitats, and finding sustainable ways to incorporate alternative pollinators in fruit and vegetable production.

SARE has a long history of supporting pollinators through grant-funded projects and practical resources that focus on pest and disease management, beekeeping practices, bee breeding, habitat development and management, and incorporating bees in sustainable production practices. Through such sustainable research and education, the sustainability of beekeeping practices, the sustainable relationship between pollinators and the environment, and the development of profitable marketing and value-added activities and products generated from the work of bees are consistently being reinforced.

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National SARE Publications

Managing Alternative Pollinators


Managing Alternative Pollinators: A Handbook for Beekeepers, Growers and Conservationists is a first-of-its-kind, step-by-step, full-color guide for rearing and managing bumble bees, mason bees, leafcutter bees and other bee species that provide pollination alternatives to the rapidly declining honey bee.

Download File (4.96 MB)

Manage Insects on Your Farm


While every farming system is unique, the principles of ecological pest management apply universally. Manage Insects on Your Farm highlights ecological strategies that improve your farm’s natural defenses and encourage beneficial insects to attack your worst pests.

Download File (3.46 MB)

How to Manage the Blue Orchard Bee


How to Manage the Blue Orchard Bee explains how to use this alternative pollinator successfully, including nesting, rearing and wintering, how to manage predators, and more. Available only online.

Download File (824.15 kB)

A Sustainable Approach to Controlling Honey Bee Diseases and Varroa Mites


This fact sheet describes efforts to breed honey bees, Apis mellifera, resistant to diseases and parasitic mites to reduce the amount of antibiotics and pesticides used in bee colonies and to ensure that our breeding methods and stock are accessible to beekeepers everywhere.

Download File (474.52 kB)

Cover Cropping for Pollinators and Beneficial Insects


This 16-page bulletin will help you use cover crops to encourage populations of pollinators and beneficial insects on your farm while you address your other resource concerns. 

Download File (728.29 kB)

What is a Topic Room?

The SARE websites contain hundreds of reports, books and other information materials on a wide range of topics. To help make sense of it all, SARE created Topic Rooms, a carefully organized collection of select, mostly SARE-based information on important topics in sustainable agriculture.


Southern SARE Resources


A collection of Southern SARE publications developed from grant projects on honeybees, native bees and other pollinators.


Southern SARE articles showcasing grant-funded work on honeybees and other pollinators.


Multimedia products, including videos and Power Point presentations related to bees, beekeeping and native pollinators.


Educational and outreach resources developed through grant-funded projects on honeybees, native bees and beekeeping efforts.


Resources from Other SARE Regions

North Central SARE

Enhancing Crop Yield through Wild Pollinators

Wild Pollinators

In this journal article, the authors argue for integrating the promotion of wild-insect species richness with single-species management to benefit farmers and society.

Wisconsin Bee Guide

WI Bee Guide

An online guide designed to help users identify wild bees commonly found in Wisconsin in the spring and early summer by their color, shape, size, and habitat.

Northeast SARE

IPM for Varroa Destructor in the Northeastern U.S.

IPM of Varroa Mite

This bulletin focuses on the management of the parasitic honey bee mite Varroa destructor. It contains information that will allow a beekeeper to: 1) identify V. destructor, 2) recognize the symptoms of mite infestation, 3) determine pest densities, and 4) implement an effective IPM program for keeping mite populations below the economic injury level.

Native Bees and Flowering Cover Crops

Small bee

A four-page bulletin on the benefits of improved bee habitat through cover cropping.

Western SARE

Managing for Wild Bees

Managing Wild Bees

Evaluating the ability of hedgerow restorations to augment hybrid sunflower pollination by the native bee community.

For more pollinator resources from across the country, visit the national SARE Learning Center.

Are you an ag educator or farmer interested in sharing the Pollinators Topic Room at an event? Consider using this one-page flyer (PDF).