AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – Honeybees do a lot for us. They pollinate up to 80% of what we eat and of course make honey. Honeybees are threatened by pesticides, pathogens, and parasites.
The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources has a plan to help protect them. MDAR Commissioner John Lebeaux told 22News, “They’re a living thing, and like all living things, they need to have an environment which they can thrive and prosper. We are trying through the plan and other means to educate and mitigate that.”
This Pollinator Protection Plan provides guidelines for beekeepers. “This is an excellent source of education to teach young people and state as a whole be kind to the bees,” said beekeeper Dennis Smith of Granby.
There are 18 beehives at the State Apiary at The Center for Agricultural, Food and the Environment at UMass Amherst. 40% of Massachusetts agriculture relies on honeybee pollination. Honeybees are important both for their pollination and their contribution towards the food supply.
State Apiary Inspectors are working to keep Massachusetts honeybees as healthy as possible. MDAR Chief Apiary Inspector Kim Skyrum said, “Beekeepers are starting to come together to do colony checks, treating for mites, looking at their populations together as a community so it’s a local effort too.”
Skyrm added that Massachusetts suffered the most bee losses in New England over the past 2 years, and is the 10th highest in the country. The Pollination Protection Plan enlists federal agencies to improve bee health and their habitat.