Bees and other pollinators are fundamental for the health of ecosystems and food security

The Fort Peck Reservation beehive allowed children to learn about the importance of pollinators and how their life cycles work. Credit: Fort Peck Extension. 

Bees and other pollinators are fundamental for the health of ecosystems and food security. They help maintain biodiversity and ensure the production of nutritious food. However, intensive monoculture production and improper use of pesticides pose serious threats to pollinators by reducing their access to food and nesting sites, exposing them to harmful chemicals and weakening their immune systems.

Under the theme, “Bee engaged in pollinator-friendly agricultural production,” World Bee Day 2023 calls for global action to support pollinator-friendly agricultural production and highlights the importance of protecting bees and other pollinators, particularly through evidence-based agricultural production practices. Learn about how Native American farmers, ranchers and youth are supporting bees and pollinators through community outreach and practical programming across Indian Country through NIFA’s Federally Recognized Tribal Extension Program (FRTEP). 

A Pollinator Garden Planned at Pawnee Nation 

Oklahoma State FRTEP Extension program at Pawnee Nation is preparing a pollinator garden that will provide habitat and recharge for native bees and other pollinator species, including migrating butterflies like monarchs.  

Pawnee County is in central Oklahoma, about 60 miles northwest of Tulsa. The Pawnee Tribe was relocated to the area from their traditional homelands along the North Platte River in Nebraska between 1873 and 1875. The Tribe is comprised of four distinct bands: the Chaui “Grand,” the Kitkehahki “Republican,” the Pitahawirata “Tappage” and the Skidi “Wolf.” 

Volunteers and Pawnee Nation College students are growing more than 40 flowering plant species to restore a pasture to native prairie, that will bloom year-round and will sustain bees throughout their life cycle. In addition, the presence of native flowering plants throughout the growing season will increase pollinator activity, improving the yield of produce and ancestral seeds grown in the community garden that has been affected by a sharp decrease in pollinators.   

Pumpkin Patch and Beehive at the Fort Peck Reservation 

Located in the northeastern corner of Montana about 450 miles from Bozeman, Fort Peck is home to the Assiniboine, Nakota, Lakota and Dakota people. The reservation consists of more than two million acres and is home to about 10,000 residents. During COVID-19, Fort Peck Extension grew a pumpkin patch that included a beehive to encourage outdoor activities and agri-tourism. 

The pumpkin patch provided an opportunity for kindergarteners to learn about pumpkins, summer squash, native squashes and Indian-Painted corn. The beehive allowed children to learn about the importance of pollinators and how their life cycles work. Even though there was a severe drought, and many local hives were not full, the Tribal Extension Garden Hive was completely full. More than 50 pounds of honey were spun and bottled in two-ounce containers to be given away to the Community Services Program. 

Learn more about another project: Tribal Youth Use ‘Seed Bombs’ to Heal Wildfire-Damaged Lands