What do bees, butterflies, flies and hummingbirds all have in common? If you answered that they are all pollinators – you are correct and we are celebrating them during the week of June 23-27th , National Pollinator Week.
Pollinators contribute substantially to the New York State’s environment and economy. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, pollinators provide approximately $344 million worth of pollination services to New York and add $29 billion in value to crop production nationally each year. New York’s ability to produce crops such as apples, grapes, cherries, onions, pumpkins, and cauliflower relies heavily on the presence of pollinators, according to the New York State Department of Conservation.
In response to rising concerns about honey bee declines, the New York State Pollinator Protection Plan included the development and expansion of the NYS Beekeeper Tech Team at Cornell University. The NYS Beekeeper Tech Team works directly with beekeepers to improve honey bee health, reduce colony losses, and increase profitability of the beekeeping industry. The Tech Team’s 2018 Annual Report shows that since the launch of the program in 2016, there has been significant improvements in Varroa mite management and honey bee colony health, which has been named as a major contributor to colony loss. The report indicates that annual colony loss rates were 10 percent lower in 2018 than the previous year. The total annual loss for beekeepers enrolled in the Tech Team was 40.5 percent in 2017/2018, compared to 51 percent in 2016/2017. Summer loss was down more than six percent, and winter loss was down by more than 11 percent. This reduction in colony loss may be due in part to increases in Varroa monitoring and treatment reported by Tech Team members. The Tech Team will continue to monitor and manage honey bee health, working toward slowing loss to a sustainable level for beekeepers.
For additional resources on planting healthy pollinator habitats, visit Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ website. Information on Integrated Pest Management best practices and additional resources for growers are available on Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ website.
Kathryn J. Boor, the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell University, said, “Our honey bee populations face many challenges. The Cornell CALS’ beekeeper team is working with beekeepers throughout New York State to understand and mitigate threats to pollinators, which are essential to our agricultural economy. The goals of our research and outreach are to support development and application of effective strategies to reduce colony losses and enhance the stability and profitability of New York State’s beekeeping industry.”
State agencies have been working closely to implement new and enhance existing actions to promote the health and recovery of pollinators in New York State as well. Agencies are continuing to reduce the use of pesticides and herbicides that could be harmful to pollinators, planting and restoring pollinator habitats in key areas across the State, increasing pest management efforts and invasive species removal projects, and developing educational materials to raise awareness about the importance of pollinators and how to protect them. To learn more about these efforts, visit DEC‘s website for information on the importance of pollinators to our environment and how homeowners can use alternatives to pesticides.