Promoting Pollinator Health at the EPA Western Ecology Division

By Randy Comeleo

This week two years ago, acknowledging that pollinators are struggling to survive and are critical to the Nation’s economy, food security, and environmental health, President Obama issued a Presidential Memorandum to create a Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators. Under the leadership of EPA and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Strategy has three goals:

  1. Reduce honey bee colony losses to economically sustainable levels;
  2. Increase monarch butterfly numbers to protect the annual migration; and
  3. Restore or enhance millions of acres of land for pollinators through combined public and private action.

Here at EPA’s Western Ecology Division in Corvallis, Oregon, we responded to the President’s “all hands” call to promote pollinator health by planting over 650 native flowering plants, bunchgrasses, and shrubs in a Pollinator Habitat Garden during spring 2015.  A “bee hotel” was also constructed to accommodate mason bees and other solitary nesting bees.

A honey bee and a milkweed flower

A honey bee gathers pollen from showy milkweed flowers in the EPA Western Ecology Division Pollinator Garden.

lots of honey bees gather around the hive entrance

Honey bees at the hive entrance in WED’s Milkweed Meadow.

honey bees swarm in and around mason bee housing

Mason Bee housing in the WED Pollinator Garden.

This spring, we installed a honeybee hive and our pollinator garden is flourishing! We’ve also started one hundred milkweed seedlings—a plant that monarch butterflies are dependent on—from the seeds we collected last fall and will plant them next week to create a milkweed meadow surrounding the honey bee hive.  In the future, we plan to create a small Willamette Valley native prairie seed and install hummingbird feeders and bat boxes to nurture avian and mammalian pollinators.

100 milkweed seedlings

Milkweed seedlings await planting in WED’s Milkweed Meadow.

a rare flower: pink petals and long green stem

Cusick’s Checkermallow, a rare and endangered plant in the Pacific Northwest, thrives in the WED Pollinator Garden.


The USDA and the U.S. Department of the Interior have designated this week as National Pollinator Week. It’s a great time to celebrate pollinators and consider what you can do at home and work to protect them!

About the Author: Randy Comeleo is an Ecologist for EPA’s Western Ecology Division research lab. He works primarily with the Air, Climate, and Energy research program as a Geographic Information System Analyst.

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