Although the jury is still out on whether pesticides contribute to the myterious disappearance of honey bees, the Environmental Protection Agency has stepped up its efforts to protect pollinators.

The agency established a multi-disciplined Pollinator Protection Team that developed a trestegic plan that will incorporate the latest research as it becomes available, according to a news release.

It's also launched a Web site to keep those interested in pollinators informed of the agency's activities.

As part of the streategic plan, EPA officials will consider ways to reduce the risks to pollinators when it evaluates a request to register a new pesticide. For example, the agency may require label language recommending the product not be applied when crops, flowers or weeds are in bloom and bees are in the area, according to the Web site.

The EPA also will confer with the California Department of Pesticide Regulation about its research into the roles neonicotinoid insecticides may play in colony collapse disorder.

Bees from colonies with the mysterious malady just disappear. No bodies are found in the hive.

Beekeepers surveyed during the 2008-09 winter reported losing slightly more than one-quarter of their colonies. That's a decrease from the previous few years when they reported losing more than one-third of their colonies over each winter.

For more information, visit the EPA's Web pollinator site at