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Abstract

About 35 percent of the world’s food crops depend on pollinators, including managed honey bees, to reproduce. However, pollinators face a number of stressors, such as parasites, poor nutrition, pesticides, and diseases. A literature review indicates that pollinators may benefit from landscapes richer in high-quality forage (pollen and nectar sources) and highlights the different needs of managed honey bees and native (unmanaged)pollinators. This study uses 30 years of data on U.S. land uses to calculate a pollinator forage suitability index. When averaged across the Nation, the forage suitability index increased from 1982 to 2002 and declined slightly from 2002 to 2012—though in important honey bee regions (such as Central North and South Dakota), the decline from 2002 to 2012 is more pronounced. The study also analyzes the economics of providing better pollinator forage, such as assigning property rights for colony placement and voluntary government conservation programs to increase pollinator forage.

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