The Pollinators

From the standpoint of pollination, there are efficient pollinators and those that are less effective. “Good” or “effective” pollinators are those that are abundant and have a high likelihood of transmitting pollen from flower to flower. Bees meet both of these criteria, making them probably the most important pollinators in urban as well as rural areas of eastern North America. First, they are highly abundant relative to other insect pollinators. Second, with the exception of small masked bees in the genus Hylaeus, most bees have numerous branched hairs on their bodies, increasing the likelihood of moving pollen from flower to flower. Third, bees intentionally seek nectar and pollen to feed themselves and their young, while other insects only visit flowers for nectar.

Other pollinators are also present in New York City’s urban landscapes and may be important, too, especially in early spring and late fall when bees are less active. These include flies, wasps, butterflies, beetles, various nocturnal pollinators, and the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird. From a conservation perspective, the biodiversity of all pollinators is significant, even if some groups or species are less effective than others.

In this section, you’ll find lots of information about the most important pollinators in the metropolitan region.

The Bees of New York City

Learn about the diversity of bees recorded in the region, from the giant carpenter bee to brilliant green metallic bees. 

Bee types

Bee identification  

Where they live       

Who they live with

Specialist bee plants

Other pollinators

Some of the other pollen movers that have been observed in New York City. Read more

Pollinator resources

Where to look for additional information

Pollinator Facts

  • Studies indicate that bees account for 68 percent of visits to flowers in New York City parks and residential neighborhoods.
  • After bees, the next most common visitors of flowers in the city are flies.
  • Butterflies account for just 6 percent of New York City’s flower visitors.
  • Honey bees pollinate approximately $15 billion worth of crops in the U.S. each year.  The value of pollination services provided by native bees and other wildlife is even greater.
  • Only 15 percent of the hundred or so crops that make up the world’s food supply are pollinated by domesticated honey bees. At least 80 percent are pollinated by wild bees and other wildlife.
  • More than 100,000 different animal species — and perhaps as many as 200,000 — play a role in pollinating the planet’s flowering plants.
  • Insects, including bees, wasps, moths, butterflies, flies, and beetles, are the most common pollinators, but as many as 1,500 species of birds, mammals, and other vertebrates also pollinate plants.

(Source: US Fish and Wildlife Service Pollinators Page)