ALBANY — The New York State Departments of Agriculture and Markets (AGM) and Environmental Conservation (DEC) highlighted several new actions New York State has taken to promote honeybee health and better protect pollinators statewide. Following an update to Agriculture and Markets Law in 2021, AGM launched a beekeeper registration program so that beekeepers can be better assisted in maintaining their colonies in a healthy condition. Additionally, an enhanced communications strategy including new updates to the AGM website and a series of roundtable meetings with beekeepers are aimed at strengthening the connection between beekeepers and state partners. This announcement comes as the State celebrated National Pollinator Week, June 20-26, which was honored with a proclamation issued by Governor Kathy Hochul affirming New York’s continued commitment to supporting New York State’s pollinators.
AGM Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, “New York State is committed to protecting our pollinators, who are critical to our environment and our agricultural industries. During National Pollinator Week, I encourage all our beekeepers to register on the Department’s website. It’s fast, it’s free, and you can join in the conversation with us to make sure that we can support you and your bees, and ensure their inspection, care, and health.”
DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “National Pollinator Week is a good reminder of how important pollinator species are to our ecosystem. Working with our partners across the state, DEC is committed ongoing efforts that promote the best practices available to maintain healthy pollinator populations throughout the State. Together, we can protect pollinators from habitat loss, parasites, climate change, pesticide misuse, and other common environmental threats.”
Updates to the State’s Agriculture and Markets Law in 2021 established a cooperative honeybee health improvement program, which includes the registration of apiaries and provides for the annual inspection of apiaries selling nucleus colonies. As part of that program, AGM devised an online registration system to assist beekeepers in keeping their colonies healthy. Since registration efforts went into effect in late December 2021, AGM has registered over 950 beekeepers who are managing over 10,000 colonies throughout New York State. The Beekeeper Registration Form helps to ensure that the state’s honeybee population is protected from potential diseases, harmful insects, and parasitic organisms.
Additionally, the honeybee health improvement program asks beekeepers to indicate if they intend to sell bee colonies. Colonies infected with disease or parasitic organisms are susceptible to contaminating other bees. New York State regulations aim for proper bee health inspection by monitoring colony movement across and between state borders. In nearly six months, AGM has inspected and issued 108 nucleus and queen sale certificates and certified 4,500 nucleus colonies and 29,264 queens that were produced and are for sale in New York State. To ensure that AGM can properly inspect bee colonies, all New York State beekeepers must complete the registration form and renew their registration annually at no charge.
AGM also put into place an enhanced communications strategy including an updated website and regular roundtable meetings with beekeepers in order to maintain open collaboration between all parties to ensure better health for beekeepers. AGM apiary inspectors are also joining with the Apiary Inspectors of America and inspectors across New England for a Lunch and Learn webinar series that will focus on educational optics of interest to beekeepers and regional colony management. Learn more at https://agriculture.ny.gov/
In January 2022, DEC took action to limit the unrestricted use of pesticides that can harm bee and other pollinator populations. DEC is reclassifying certain products containing the neonicotinoid (neonic) insecticides imidacloprid, thiamethoxam, and acetamiprid as “restricted use” to ensure applications are limited to trained pesticide applicators in specific situations. Restricting the use of these pesticides enables DEC to collect new data to determine where, when, and how they are used, as well as their potential impacts. For more information, go to https://www.dec.ny.gov/
Senator Michelle Hinchey, Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee said, “I am incredibly proud to have sponsored this legislation to safeguard our pollinators in New York, which are increasingly under threat due to the climate crisis. Pollinators are absolutely vital to ensuring our communities have food to eat, to keeping local agricultural production strong, and to sustaining the health of our natural resources, and we will continue to take crucial steps to protect this species.”
Assemblymember Donna Lupardo, Chair of the Assembly Committee on Agriculture and Food said, “Pollinators play a vital role in many sectors of our agriculture economy. Without a viable pollinator population, including birds, bees, and butterflies, our food systems would be at risk as would our environment. New York State has taken steps to improve protection of our pollinators, but it is critical everyone do their part to allow them to thrive.”
Dan Winter, New York beekeeper and President of the American Beekeeping Federation said, “The registration process in New York is a great way to bring beekeeping into the future. The registration helps prevent disease in beehives and update very old laws to include pollinators. The much-needed census will help researchers with vital information to help work on more sustainable agricultural practices on into the future. This is a win for pollinators both managed and native.”
Mark Fiegl, President of the Empire State Honey Producers Association said, “Pollinator species such as bees, moths, butterflies, other insects, and birds play an important part in pollinating plants, supporting our agricultural crops and food supply. One of the stressors affecting pollinators is a lack of proper nutrition due to changes in their habitat. We can do our part to help pollinator species by planting pollinator friendly plants such as trees and pollinator friendly flowers at our homes and in our communities. I urge everyone to get involved and be informed. Join a local bee or gardening club, join your state or national organization, and attend bee conferences to hear the latest research being done with our pollinators. Please consider doing your part in helping our pollinators.”
New York’s Pollinator Protection Plan
New York State announced an interagency taskforce in 2015 to develop a Pollinator Protection Plan to promote the health and recovery of pollinator populations in New York State. The taskforce was led by the Commissioners of the AGM and DEC. Pollinators contribute substantially to the 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, strawberries, pumpkins, and squash relies heavily on the presence of pollinators.
–New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets