Bees & Pollination

Honeybees, the most important plant pollinators, are in trouble. Their numbers have declined substantially in the last several years because of two kinds of relatively new mites. This leaves pollination of apples, plums, sour cherries, peaches and other fruits questionable.


Until now, the familiar light brown and black striped honeybee has been a reliable spring pollinator. A combination of mites sapping the strength of bees, added to normal winter survival hardships, has killed many hives. In addition, gardeners' use of pesticides can affect the honeybee population.

Yellow jacket

It's likely that honeybee populations will partially recover by mid-summer, making the outlook for pollination of fall vegetables like squash, pumpkins and cucumbers, less dismal. However, the pollination situation in gardens is far from good.

Many commonly used garden pesticides are toxic to bees. If the plant to be sprayed is blooming and attractive to bees, wait until the flowers are gone before applying a pesticide, or consider pest control solutions other than pesticides. When choosing to use pesticides, use the least toxic and always read label precautions carefully.

There are usually many ways of dealing with pests -- some as inexpensive and easy as knocking insects off plants with a strong stream of water, or picking the insects off by hand. Preventing the insects from reaching plants with floating row covers in the vegetable garden is another approach.

For more information, see the following Colorado State University Extension fact sheet(s).

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Updated Thursday, October 16, 2014