On Rutgers Cook campus, Princeton Post Doc Rachael Winfree examines native, solitary, ground-nesting pollinators – here foraging for pollen on forest floor spring flowers (inset). The NJAES, NJ farmers, and all who enjoy eating fruits and vegetables depend on pollination. Many fruits simply would not bear and agriculture as we know it would not exist without pollination.

Recent honeybee hive health declines in the US concerns farmers and researchers. The economic and crop production impacts of pollination easily exceed $100 million annually just in NJ.

Of vital interest to NJ blueberry and cranberry farmers in the Pine Barrens, Rachaels research suggests native solitary pollinators may contribute importantly to pollination and profitable yields. In New Jersey’s Pine Barrens, these insect pollinators may be more important than honeybees. Fostering their ecological habitat may become integral to sustaining profitable farming truly compatble with the Pine Barrens ecosystem.