Pollinators | USDA Climate Centers
Animal and insect pollinators help plants reproduce and support healthy ecosystems and food security. Pollination benefits around 78% of the world’s crops, and one in three bites of our food – including fruits, vegetables, chocolate, nuts and spices – depends on pollination services for production. Pollinators play an important role in generating more profitable yields on US farmland: insect pollination services alone contribute an estimated $29 billion to US agriculture. Managed honey bees play an important role in providing these services, while also producing honey.
Pollinators are affected by climate change in several ways. Warmer temperatures can encourage plants to flower earlier than usual. Not all pollinators can adapt to an early flowering season, which means that many pollinators may have limited plant food availability. Pollinators are also vulnerable to periods of drought. With hot weather and low rainfall, flowers produce less nectar to conserve energy. Reduced nectar means pollinators receive fewer calories and sugar, which can reduce pollinator health and reproduction. Extreme rainfall can also present a challenge, as it can reduce the number of hours pollinators can fly to collect floral resources. Climate change and associated extreme weather events can reduce the pollinators available to produce honey and provide pollination services for the reproduction of plants and crops.