Pollinators in Atlanta

Emily Li

Anchor Introduction (Pollinators in Atlanta)


Pollinator populations are in unsustainable decline all over the world. Pollination refers to the act of moving pollen from one flower to another of the same species. Common pollinators, such as bumblebees and butterflies, are essential to maintaining healthy ecosystems and sustaining successful flowering plant reproductive cycles.

In bees alone, beekeepers in the US and Europe have been reporting annual hive losses of 30% or higher for the past decade. In the face of severe environmental, economic, and ethical consequences, new initiatives are underway in Atlanta to combat the issue.

Emily Li reports on local pollinator population decline in Atlanta for Emory News Now.


TRT (3:54)

Elbert Liang—anchor introduction (0:00-0:37)

Dennis Krusac (1:07-1:26) (2:11-2:26) (3:15-3:26) [total: 0:45]

Greater Atlanta Pollinator Partnership Founder

Jennifer Leavey (1:47-1:57) [total: 0:10]

Georgia Tech Urban Honeybee Project Coordinator

Emily Dobbs (2:26-2:41) (2:41-2:55) [total: 0:30]

Emory University Brosi Labs Manager


NAT POP (:05)

Bee buzz audio clip (0:37-0:42)




The nearby buzz of a bumblebee might scare the average citizen in Atlanta. To local conservationists, it’s music to the ears. Many, like US. Forest Service Endangered Species Specialist Dennis Krusac (KROO-sahk), fear the repercussions of the current decline in pollinator populations. As co-founder of the Greater Atlanta Pollinator Partnership, he claims dropping populations carry serious consequences for food production. (0:42-1:07)




Dennis Krusac

Greater Atlanta Pollinator Partnership Founder


Every third bite of food we eat is a result of some kind of animal pollination. So, the grains are all wind-pollinated. So you can have all the pasta you want. But if you got pasta, there’s not gonna be any tomato sauce. There’s not going to be any garlic. There’s not going to be any basil, or oregano, no spices. You can have boiled pasta. (1:07-1:26)



Professor Jennifer Leavey at the Georgia Institute of Technology agrees pollinators are crucial for food security. Further, she believes pollinators are becoming increasingly relevant from sustainability and urban planning perspectives. In 2013, she helped coordinate Georgia Tech’s Urban Honeybee Project, which focuses on the impact of urbanization on honeybees. (1:26-1:47)




Jennifer Leavey

Georgia Tech Urban Honeybee Project Coordinator


As people live in more and more concentrated areas and also try to grow food in those areas, it’s really important that these pollinators be very efficient in their work. (1:47-1:57)




Conservation experts seem to agree on the importance of pollinators for their varied services. What’s less clear is what exactly is causing these drastic declines in populations. Krusac believes the main culprit in Atlanta is habitat loss. (1:57-2:11)




Dennis Krusac

Greater Atlanta Pollinator Partnership Founder


During the housing boom of the 1990s and early 2000s, we were losing about 55 acres of green space a day and gaining about 20 acres of impervious surface—parking lots, rooftops, roads. So over 20 years we lost over 400,000 acres of green space. (2:11-2:26)




Emily Dobbs, research specialist and lab manager of Emory’s bee-focused Brosi (BROH-see) Labs, agrees that habitat loss is a major driver. However, she says disease, pesticide use and other factors are probably involved. (2:26-2:41)




Emily Dobbs

Emory University Brosi Labs Manager


It’s probably a combination of a bunch of things that maybe on their own would not have a very significant effect, but because they’re all occurring at the exact same time we’re seeing major consequences in pollinator populations. (2:41-2:55)




Conservation initiatives and pollinator habitats are now sprouting up in Atlanta to counter the declines. Krusac, with the Greater Atlanta Pollinator Partnership, helps restore pollinator habitat by educating citizens on growing pollinator-friendly gardens. The project’s mission reflects a shift in conservation efforts toward citizen involvement. (2:55-3:15)




Dennis Krusac

Greater Atlanta Pollinator Partnership Founder


You need to get to the individual homeowner—that’s where the garden is going to be. And it doesn’t matter whether you own a house with a yard or if you’re in a condo with a balcony on the 10th floor, if you plant the right plants you can attract pollinators. (3:15-3:26)



In a collaborative effort, Atlanta conservationists, researchers, officials and citizens are working to ensure the sustainable health of local pollinators. These groups are restoring pollinator habitats, pursuing research, and spreading the buzz about pollinators to help save these critical species. (3:26-3:44)



Emily Li, Emory News Now

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