Pollinator Protection

Federal Pollinator Health Task Force: EPA’s Role

In June 2014, President Obama issued a memorandum establishing a Pollinator Health Task Force, co-chaired by USDA and EPA, to create a National Pollinator Health Strategy that promotes the health of honey bees and other pollinators (including birds, bats, butterflies, and insects).

The goals of the National Pollinator Health Strategy are to:

  • Restore honey bee colony health to sustainable levels by 2025.
  • Increase Eastern monarch butterfly populations to 225 million butterflies by year 2020.
  • Restore or enhance seven million acres of land for pollinators over the next five years.

In support of the Strategy EPA is taking the following actions to protect pollinators from pesticide exposure:

Proposed New Risk Management Approach for Protecting the Monarch Butterfly.

EPA’s Risk Management Approach to Identifying Options for Protecting the Monarch Butterfly, outlines an approach for actions to protect the monarch butterfly. EPA is soliciting public comment on which potential action or a combination of actions would be most effective in reducing the impacts of herbicides on the monarch butterfly and its habitat. The agency is also requesting additional suggestions for protection measures for the monarch.

Proposal to Protect Bees from Acutely Toxic Pesticides

EPA's Proposal to Protect Bees from Acutely Toxic Pesticides includes:

  • New Restrictions to Better Protect Bees from Pesticides - EPA proposed additional restrictions on all highly toxic pesticides, in addition to neonicotinoids, to prohibit foliar application (applying pesticides directly to crop leaves) of pesticides that are highly toxic to bees when crops are in bloom and bees are under contract for pollination services. These restrictions would prohibit application of most insecticides and some herbicides during bloom.
  • State and Tribal Managed Pollinator Protection Plans - EPA will work with state and tribal agencies to develop and issue local pollinator protection plans. 

Temporarily Halted the Approval of New Registrations of Neonicotinoids


As part of EPA's ongoing effort to protect pollinators, the agency has sent letters to registrants of neonicotinoid pesticides with outdoor uses informing them that EPA will likely not be in a position to approve most applications for new uses of these chemicals until new bee data are submitted and pollinator risk assessments are complete.

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Expedite Registration Review for Pesticides

The 2015 update to the neonicotinoid registration review schedule moves up final decision timing and provides specific milestones along the way. Learn more about the registration review schedule for neonicotinoid pesticides.

Additionally, EPA has updated the registration review schedule for all pesticides, covering planned reviews through 2017.  Learn more about the updated registration review schedule for pesticides.

Expedite the Review of New Varroa Mite Control Products

Recognizing beekeepers’ need for additional registered tools to combat the Varroa mite in U.S. honey bee colonies, EPA has been expediting the review of miticides--including oxalic acid and Potassium Salts of Hops Beta Acids--to combat the devastating effects of the Varroa mite on honey bee colonies. According to USDA’s Report on Honey Bee Health (PDF)(72 pp, 1.16 MB, About PDF), the parasitic mite Varroa destructor remains the single most detrimental pest of honey bees, and is closely associated with overwintering colony declines.

EPA's list of Pesticide Products Approved for Use Against Varroa Mites in Bee Hives makes it easier for beekeepers to identify these products.

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Implementation Plan for Bee Exposure and Effect Testing

In June 2015, EPA plans to issue its approach for implementing the Agency’s new bee testing priorities in the context of three types of pesticide registration actions:

  • Registration Review of existing pesticides;
  • Registration of new pesticide uses; and
  • Registration of new pesticides.

Incorporate Pollinator Protection at EPA Facilities, on epa.gov, and in other EPA programs 

  • Install pollinator gardens at all Agency facilities. 
  • Update its Green Infrastructure website to provide improved resources for pollinator protection.
  • Encourage pollinator friendly habitat considerations in land cleanup programs; for example, 
    • the community advisory group at the Chemical Commodities, Inc. Superfund site (PDF)(2 pp, 316 K, About PDF) in Olathe, Kansas, worked with Monarch Watch, the Pollinator Partnership, and other site stakeholders to establish a pollinator garden after cleanup activities are completed.​

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