RICHMOND, Va. — The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services released its pollinator protection plan just as a task force for the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology published a commentary examining honey bee health stressors.
Virginia’s Voluntary Plan to Mitigate the Risk of Pesticides to Managed Pollinators addresses solutions to reduce the risk of pesticides to honeybees and other pollinators. The guidelines dovetail with the findings in the CAST commentary.
“Here in Virginia and across the nation, people are concerned about the loss of honey bees,” said VDACS Commissioner Sandy Adams. “And we have developed a plan that focuses on communication between pesticide applicators and beekeepers and the use of best management practices by farmers, beekeepers and pesticide applicators to protect our pollinators.”
Nearly one-third of fruits and vegetables depend—directly or indirectly—upon insect-pollinated plants by species, such as honeybees and other pollinators, noted Tony Banks, a Virginia Farm Bureau Federation commodity marketing specialist. “Virginia crops that depend on pollinators to develop their fruits include apples, pumpkins, cucumbers, squash and blueberries.”
The pollinator plan emphasizes reducing pesticide exposure to managed pollinators. Examples include:
- Providing advance notification to beekeepers of upcoming pesticide applications, which gives beekeepers an opportunity to reduce the impact of exposure by covering or moving hives;
- applying pesticides when bees are less likely to be foraging, preferably in the late afternoon and early evening; and
- establishing apiaries in areas where there is a reduced risk of potential pesticide exposure.
Virginia’s plan resulted from listening sessions held by VDACS statewide. In addition to input from beekeepers, farmers and pesticide applicators, the agency heard from landowners, university researchers and industry groups.
The CAST commentary, Why Does Honey Bee Health Matter?, examined stressors threatening colony health and offered ways bees could be protected.
The authors of the paper encourage increasing pollinator foraging opportunities and enriching the natural habitat. “Careful and appropriate pesticide use, conservation and sustainable agriculture practices will help ensure the availability of the pollinators needed to secure a stable food supply,” they wrote.
Virginia’s pollinator protection plan can be found at vdacs.virginia.gov/plant-industry-services-pollinator-protection-plan.shtml.
Read the full CAST commentary at www.cast-science.org.
— Virginia Farm Bureau Federation