RICHMOND, Va. — Sandy Adams, Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, said the agency recently completed Virginia’s Voluntary Plan to Mitigate the Risk of Pesticides to Managed Pollinators (also known as the pollinator protection plan). Virginia’s pollinator protection plan is intended to reduce the risk of pesticides to honey bees and other pollinators.
“Here in Virginia and across the nation, people are concerned about the loss of honey bees,” Adams said, “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.”
Farmers and gardeners depend on pollinators to produce important Virginia crops such as apples, pumpkins, watermelons, cucumbers, squash and berries. Pollination adds more than $24 billion in extra value to the nation’s agricultural output each year.
Virginia’s plan is voluntary and provisions of the plan resulted in part from seven listening sessions VDACS held across Virginia in 2016 to obtain input. In addition to beekeepers, farmers and pesticide applicators, VDACS received input from landowners, university researchers and educators and industry groups. VDACS also established a 21-member Advisory Committee representing key stakeholder groups to provide input on the plan.
The plan stresses communication between beekeepers and applicators and includes guidelines for reducing pesticide exposure to managed pollinators. Some examples include:
- Providing advance notification to beekeepers of upcoming pesticide applications gives the beekeeper an opportunity to take actions to reduce the impact of pesticide exposure by covering or relocating hives.
- Applying pesticides when bees are less likely to be foraging, preferably in the late afternoon and into the evening, will help reduce exposure.
- Establishing apiaries in areas where there is a reduced risk of potential pesticide exposure to managed pollinators will help reduce exposure to bees.
Additional information on Virginia’s pollinator protection plan can be found at vdacs.virginia.gov/plant-industry-services-pollinator-protection-plan.shtml.
“I believe people who participate in this voluntary plan will find that communication can reduce the exposure of pollinators to pesticides and at the same time allows applicators to implement pest control strategies,” Adams said. “We believe it is a workable plan for all concerned and I want to thank all those who participated in the discussions, developed the plan and are working together to protect our bees.”
— Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services