CHEERS to officials raising the alarm over honey bee data collection.
Last week, Sen. Chuck Schumer visited a Morrisonville bee farm to call out the Department of Agriculture decision to leave out honey bee data collection from its annual survey.
With Schumer taking a made-for-camera sampling of fresh honeycomb honey and plenty of bee-based puns written of his visit, it could be easy to dismiss the issue as low in the grand scheme of things.
But scientists have been warning for more than a decade of a population crisis among honey bees.
According to the “Honey Bee Colonies report,” New York State lost 14,700 bee colonies in 2018, and an additional 3,400 colonies in the first three months of this year.
Losing bees isn’t just a matter of losing honey. Bees serve as irreplaceable pollinators for valuable crops across the country, including the North Country’s valuable apple crop.
Schumer cited a statistic that $1.2 billion worth of New York State’s crops depend on bees, which probably translates to hundreds of millions of dollars for the North Country.
Locally, we have a honey industry and farm-to-table restaurants such as Anthony’s Restaurant & Bistro and Livingoods Restaurant & Brewery who depend on New York crops, he added.
What’s harming the bees?
Local beekeeper Dick Crawford pointed to long, harsh winters and improper use of pesticides.
On its website, the USDA also points to these causes, along with others including parasites, poor nutrition and a mysterious condition known as colony collapse disorder.
With so many threats to such a valuable species, the Press-Republican agrees with Sen. Schumer that the United States needs to continue keeping regular records on bee populations.
Solving any problem starts by studying it to know just how big the problem is.
If there was a human-based disease harming people around the country, we would want to know just how many people were being sickened from it.
We only know how serious the bee population problem is because of decades of records and we’ll only know when we’ve started to fix the problem through keeping those same records.
The orchard keepers, restaurant owners and honey lovers will thank you.