Why Idaho’s Agriculture Department Wants A Plan To Protect Bees

Aug 31, 2016

The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) is encouraging all its members to make a plan to protect pollinating insects and most states are doing that or have already adopted one. Dudley Hoskins with NASDA says the plans are needed because bees face a variety of threats.

Hoskins says most state plans focus on protecting domestic honey bees rather than wild pollinators. Some have called for state regulations, but at least part of the reason for this national push is to prevent creation of federal regulations on things like pesticides that can kill beneficial as well as harmful insects. Hoskins says addressing the threats to bees with a holistic, cooperative approach is better than through federal regulations.

The group to write the plan for Idaho, so far has representatives from farmers’ organizations, the state’s honey industry and hobby beekeepers. George Robinson with the Idaho Department of Agriculture is overseeing the process.

“Bees are important to agriculture and are necessary for the production of a lot of our seed and food crops in Idaho,” Robinson says. “And so of course the beekeepers would benefit but also the producers as well. Producers want to see healthy bees and they don’t want bees being killed either.”

Robinson says the committee being put together will write an Idaho-specific plan but will look at plans from other states. He says most of those have focused on improving communication between farmers and beekeepers.

“If there’s going to be a pesticide application nearby that the applicator and the beekeeper can know when that’s going to happen and allow the applicator to also know where the bees are and the beekeeper to move their bees out of the area if needed,” Robinson says. 

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