The decline of honeybees and other native pollinators An overview of the current challenges and potential solutions

OSWEGO COUNTY - Nearly 75% of all crops around the world are at least partially dependent on pollinators. Some of the crops that are highly dependent on pollination include, fruits, nuts, avocados, melons, pumpkins, coco beans, coffee, soybeans, and palm oil. In fact, the USDA states that honeybees and other native pollinators are responsible for one in every three bites of food that we eat, and it is estimated that pollination helps increase the nation’s crop value by 15 billion each year.

However, over the past few decades, there has been a significant rise in the annual loss rates of managed honeybees across the country. According to the Bee Informed Partnership Inc., which is a nation-wide organization that surveys beekeepers, there is nearly a 40% winter loss rate for bee colonies in New York state. Honeybee populations have largely been maintained because beekeepers have remained vigilant in replacing their dead colonies every year. However, these replacement percentages are not sustainable, and they point to a much larger problem. Not only are there losses in honeybees, but there is also good evidence to suggest population declines in both wild bees and other native pollinators as well.

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oswego County (CCE Oswego) will host a free virtual workshop through Zoom from 1-3 p.m. on Thursday, May 12. This workshop will provide an overview of the current challenges surrounding pollinator declines and what some of the potential solutions are for addressing the problem. It will also provide practical guidance for beekeepers and members of the public on how they can best support pollinator health.

Guest speakers will be Dr. Steve Sheppard, Chair of the Entomology Department at Washington State University, and Dr. Scott McArt, Assistant Professor of Pollinator Health at Cornell University. Dr. Sheppard will give a historical overview of the African and European honeybee and the rise of bee pressures in the United States. He will also discuss some of the innovative research his team is doing to support beekeepers, including the use of fungi to help reduce Varroa mites and viral loads. Dr. McArt will discuss the latest research from Cornell University, including some of the underlying factors that are leading to pollinator declines. His presentation will also highlight what Cornell University is doing to help support both beekeepers and members of the public in promoting pollinator health.

This workshop is open to all members of the public, including those interested in learning how they can better support honeybees and other wild pollinators. It is also targeting beginning beekeepers and longstanding honey producers who are looking to gain practical knowledge on how to maintain bee colony health. Registration is required to attend. Go to: reg.cce.cornell.edu/pollinatorhealth_235 to register for this event. For more information, contact Joshua Vrooman, Ag Community Educator, at jwv33@cornell.edu or 315-963-7286 ext. 200.

Contact the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oswego County office if people have any special needs. For more information, call 315-963-7286 or go online to www.thatscooperativeextension.org.

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