New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball today highlighted actions the State has taken to promote and protect pollinator health across New York. The State released its updated Pollinator Protection Plan, outlining the coordinated work of State agencies to enhance pollinator health, including beekeeper registration, outreach, and education programs; continued support of the New York State Beekeeper Tech Team; improved landscape management at state facilities and along roadways to provide increased habitats; and more. This announcement comes as the State closes its celebration of Pollinator Week, honored nationally from June 19 through the 25, and is part of Governor Kathy Hochul’s continued commitment to supporting New York State’s pollinators.
Commissioner Ball said, “Pollinators play a critical role in our agricultural industries statewide. We depend on our pollinating populations like birds, bees, butterflies, and other insects to help our crops grow and support the agricultural economy. Together with our fellow agencies, our partners at Cornell University, and our hardworking farmers, we are committed to conserving and growing our pollinator populations to ensure a strong future for agriculture and our environment in New York.”
Over the past several years, New York State has taken steps to promote honeybee health and better protect pollinators statewide. In 2022, the Department of Agriculture and Markets launched a beekeeper registration program to better help beekeepers maintain their colonies in a healthy condition, which has since registered 1,625 beekeepers who are managing nearly 31,500 colonies throughout New York State. Additionally, the Department’s honeybee health improvement program asks beekeepers to indicate if they intend to sell bee colonies to monitor colony movement across and between state borders. To ensure that the Department can properly inspect bee colonies, all New York State beekeepers must complete the registration form and renew their registration annually at no charge. Register here.
The Pollinator Protection Plan has also continued to fund, through the New York State Budget, the development and expansion of the New York State Beekeeper Tech Team at Cornell University, which works directly with beekeepers to improve honeybee health, reduce colony losses, and increase profitability of the beekeeping industry. In its eighth year, the New York State Beekeeper Tech Team program team has worked with a total of 65 beekeepers who manage 47,604 colonies in New York State, representing approximately 60% of the state’s estimated 80,000 colonies.
In January 2022, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) took action to limit the unrestricted use of certain pesticides that can impact bee and other pollinator populations. In effect as of January 2023, certain products containing the neonicotinoid (neonic) insecticides imidacloprid, thiamethoxam, and acetamiprid are now classified 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.
Additionally, partners at the Department of Transportation (DOT), Thruway Authority, and Office of General Services (OGS) continue to enhance pollinator habitats and employ best landscape management strategies on state land and along roadways.
Looking to the future, the State’s partners in pollinator protection will continue to build on the actions taken and identify new initiatives to protect and quantify New York’s pollinators.
DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “Pollinators are critical to the health of New York’s environment and must be protected from threats like habitat loss, parasites, climate change, and pesticide misuse. Working with partners across the state, DEC is committed to promoting best practices to maintain healthy pollinator populations and safeguard the future of our natural resources.”
State Department of Transportation Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez said, “Throughout the state, NYSDOT continues to provide safe habitats for pollinators, which are critically important to the health of New Yorkers and New York’s agricultural economy. The state’s Pollinator Protection Plan is a sound roadmap for our collective efforts to protect a crucial aspect of New York’s diverse agricultural sector. I thank Governor Hochul and our state agency partners for their steadfast commitment to environmental stewardship, which will greatly benefit pollinator species now and in the future.”
Thruway Authority Interim Executive Director Frank G. Hoare said, “The Thruway Authority strives to incorporate environmental stewardship into all of our projects and activities, and supports pollinators through several efforts across New York State. Reducing mowing limits to provide more suitable habitats for pollinators, planting native wildflowers in select areas using specific seed blends, among other initiatives all have a critical impact on pollinators. We continue to work with our agency partners to develop best management practices to support efforts to protect and revive populations of all pollinators.”
OGS Commissioner Jeanette Moy said, “The Office of General Services is proud to be a member of Governor Hochul’s team of pollinator-protecting agencies. We have taken several steps to enhance pollinator habitats that are vitally important to support a healthy ecosystem. These include adopting sustainable landscape management practices, increasing the number of pollinator-friendly and native plantings at state facilities, and promoting the use of commodities, services, and technologies in our state contracts that meet New York’s green procurement standards.”
David Fisher, New York Farm Bureau President, said, “Honeybees and other pollinators play a critical role in New York agriculture and our food system, which is why it is important to maintain a healthy pollinator population. New York Farm Bureau has long supported the Integrated Pest Management program as an effective way to reduce pesticide use and take into account the needs of pollinators. New York Farm Bureau looks forward to continuing working with the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets to reach the best possible outcome for pollinators and our state's important agricultural system.”
Dr. Alejandro Calixto, Director of the NYS Integrated Pest Management Program, said, “Cornell’s IPM program is focused on developing sustainable ways to manage pests and helping people use methods that minimize environmental, health, and economic risks. Our program and CALS faculty are well poised to continue to assist NYS in the implementation of the Pollinator Protection Plan – utilizing science-based recommendations to drive environmental change – while assuring safe, locally grown food production.”
About New York’s Pollinator Protection Plan
In 2015, New York State announced an interagency taskforce to develop the first Pollinator Protection Plan to promote the health and recovery of pollinator populations in New York State. Since its establishment, the Pollinator Protection Plan has continued to be updated and reviewed to provide recommendations for best practices. The Plan has achieved many of the State’s goals to protect its pollinator population, including passing legislation for the Honeybee Health Improvement program, creating habitat enhancements to protect and revive populations of native and managed pollinators; supporting research projects to better manage and conserve pollinators; and surveying pollinator populations to get good baseline data to monitor the health and scope of the pollinator population.
According to information from the US Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service, pollinator services contributed to the production of $469.8 million worth of crops grown in New York and add $29 billion in value to crop production nationally each year. New York's ability to produce crops such as apples, cherries, strawberries, pumpkins, and squash relies heavily on the presence of pollinators.