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Texas Soil and Water Stewardship Week Highlights the Importance of Pollinators

TEMPLE – The Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board, Association of Texas Soil and Water Conservation Districts, Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, and Texas Wildlife Association are joining other state agencies and organizations in a statewide campaign to highlight the importance of voluntary land stewardship in Texas. Soil and Water Stewardship Week is April 26 through May 3, 2020, and the focus this year is “Where Would We BEE Without Pollinators?”

According to the Kansas Rural Center, pollinators and other beneficial insects are losing ground worldwide.  Currently, 25 percent of North American bee species are at risk of extinction.  

Why is this important? To begin with, pollination is one of the most fundamental processes sustaining agriculture and natural ecosystems, and most native plants in North America require pollination by insects. Furthermore, pollinators are essential for productive agricultural ecosystems, such as row crop production and agro-forestry, and they ensure the production of fruit and seeds in many crops, grasses, and timber.  Likewise, pollinators play a significant role in natural rangeland ecosystems by helping to keep plant communities healthy and reproducing.  

It is quite simple. We need pollinators to support rangelands for our wildlife and livestock, to keep our forests productive, and to keep the agricultural crops that we use every day growing.

In Texas, most plant pollination is carried out by bees. The first thing that comes to mind is probably the honeybee. Rightly so, as honeybee hive collapses and population decreases have been in the headlines for many years. And while honeybees do have an important role to play, they are actually a non-native species that originated in Europe. We cannot neglect our native bee species, whose population is also decreasing.   

Bumblebees, mason bees, mining bees, sunflower bees, and squash bees, just to name a few, are native to Texas. These native bees are not only crucial to the survival of our natural ecosystems, they have even been proven to be more efficient pollinators for many agricultural crops.

While there are many theories as to what is causing the decline of bee populations, what can be done to prevent further losses? One solution is soil conservation. Improving soil health with less tillage, planting multispecies cover crops that work in your area, and implementing crop rotations can over time build organic matter in the soil, lead to less pesticide and herbicide use, and incorporate the plant diversity that bees need to flourish. Grazing management, with proper rotation and rest, can enhance and restore the diverse plant communities and habitats that are essential for the native bee species.

The Dust Bowl was a wake-up call in the early 1930s that led to the formation of local Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs) in Texas. Since then, landowners have worked with SWCDs to get voluntary conservation practices on the ground. The decreasing bee population in Texas and the United States is today’s wake-up call. We need pollinators, and we also need good stewards that will implement pollinator-friendly conservation practices to protect and preserve the natural resources of Texas.

The good news is that we know the way. Proper land stewardship always makes the difference. Don’t BEE afraid of conservation, because if we lose pollinators, we do not have a Plan BEE. 

Partnering organizations in the “Where Would We BEE Without Pollinators?” public awareness campaign includes Agriculture Teachers Association of Texas, Audubon Texas, Ducks Unlimited, Earthmoving Contractors Association of Texas, Independent Cattlemen’s Association of Texas, Plains Cotton Growers, Project Learning Tree, San Antonio River Authority, South Texans’ Property Rights Association, Texan by Nature, Texas A&M AgriLife Blacklands Research Center, Texas A&M Forest Service, Texas A&M Natural Resources Institute, Texas Agricultural Land Trust, Texas Association of Dairymen, Texas Conservation Association for Water and Soil, Texas Farm Bureau, Texas Forestry Association, Texas Grain and Feed Association, Texas Grain Sorghum Association, Texas Grazing Land Coalition, Texas Land Trust Council, Texas Logging Council, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Texas Poultry Federation, Texas Sheep and Goat Raisers Association, Texas Water Resources Institute, The Witte Museum, and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.

For more information on “Where Would We BEE Without Pollinators?” please visit:

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