The New York State Departments of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Agriculture and Markets today announced the commemoration of National Pollinator Week, June 17-23, after Governor Andrew M. Cuomo issued a proclamation (attached) affirming New York’s commitment to promoting the health and recovery of the state’s pollinator population. In addition, this week, New York State is celebrating Pollinator Week with several events highlighting the importance of key pollinator species such as bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. State agencies also announced updates on actions taken as a result of the State’s Pollinator Protection Plan.
DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “Pollinators are critical to the state’s environment and agricultural economy as they are essential to the health of New York’s crops and natural resources. I applaud Governor Cuomo for his continued commitment to highlighting our ongoing efforts to maintain healthy pollinator populations and encourage all New Yorkers to join us in protecting pollinators by reducing the use of pesticides and herbicides that could be harmful to these creatures and creating good pollinator habitats in their own backyards.”
State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, “I am encouraged by the tremendous work of the NYS Beekeepers Tech Team at Cornell University. Their expertise continues to provide the State’s Pollinator Task Force with valuable information on the contributing factors to colony decline. Their most recent report shows that the colony health management practices provided to our beekeepers is making a difference. As they continue this important work, I’m pleased that the Department of Agriculture and Markets has expanded the NYS Grown & Certified program to our honey producers. This will make our local honey products more visible to consumers."
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, onions, pumpkins, and cauliflower relies heavily on the presence of pollinators.
With a third round of funding from the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) allocated in the NYS 2018-2019 Budget to implement the Pollinator Protection Plan, New York continues to make great strides in restoring the health of pollinators. This year’s Pollinator Week efforts build upon the State’s comprehensive Pollinator Protection Plan which guides actions by state agencies and the public to protect New York’s pollinator populations.
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.
State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said, “Pollinators are critical for the flowering plants and ecosystems that beautify and support our parks. Governor Cuomo continues to stress that we must ensure bees, butterflies and other pollinators can thrive in a healthy environment and we can help in that effort.”
In addition to the continued outreach and education conducted by DEC and the Department of Agriculture and Markets, New York State is also now expanding its NYS Grown & Certified marketing program to include honey producers. The program markets local farmers and producers that adhere to food safety and environmental sustainability standards. To be eligible for the program, honey producers must harvest 100 percent of their honey in New York and must successfully complete Cornell University’s Honey Food Safety Best Practices Manual test and label their honey products according to standards set in the Best Practices Manual. Applicants must also submit the Honey Bee Health Information form and have a bee health inspection every two years. For more information and to apply for the NYS Grown & Certified program, please visit certified.ny.gov.
POLLINATOR WEEK EVENTS
Wednesday, June 19, 1:00 p.m., Five Rivers Environmental Education Center – 56 Game Farm Rd, Delmar, NY 12054
Monarch butterfly populations are declining at an alarming rate. These migrating pollinators face many perils on their trip to wintering grounds in Mexico. Pesticides and other factors are also contributing to their decrease. Come join DEC staff to learn more about this population struggle through an indoor presentation. Then join us outdoors to count these insects in support of the Citizen Science Monarch Larva Monitoring Program.
Friday June 21, 7:00 p.m., Five Rivers Environmental Education Center – 56 Game Farm Rd, Delmar, NY 12054
Flowers of the Solstice program. What should you do if you find a five-leaf clover? When is it dangerous to dream of daisies? Why did Native Americans call plantain, “white man’s foot”? Does any culture value dandelions? The valued cultivated plants our ancestors brought with them to the Americas are now a familiar part of New York’s wild landscape. On this exploratory stroll, DEC and participants will search out some of these flora pioneers and answer questions.
Saturday, June 22 at 10:00 a.m., Reinstein Woods Environmental Education Center, 93 Honorine Dr., Depew, NY 14043
Celebrate National Pollinator Week by enjoying a pollinator-themed nature story, followed by a guided walk to look for local pollinators. For children ages three to seven.
State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Events
State Parks is also running free events during Pollinator Week to teach young people about pollinators and the state’s native wildflowers that help support their populations, including June 17 in Point Au Roche State Park, June 19 at Rockefeller State Park, and June 22 at Point Au Roche, Long Point and Lake Erie state parks. Further event details can be found here