North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring says a new North Dakota Pollinator Plan has been developed to better protect honeybees while enabling cultivation practices necessary for modern agriculture.
“It is completely non-regulatory,” he says. “It contains best management practices and other proactive measures and ideas to help agricultural producers and beekeepers find common ground, all on a voluntary basis.”
Some of the recommended best management practices include:
•Working with farmers, pesticide applicators, landowners and honey bee producers to find safe sites for bee hives.
•Following pesticide application regulations carefully.
•Not spraying crops when bees are most active.
•Planting forage for especially for bees.
•Preserving habitat for bees.
The plan is a work in progress, open to revision and change, Goehring says. “We intend to revisit it annually and update it as needed.”.
The current plan is largely based on information gathered at a meeting last fall and at a statewide pollinator summit of beekeepers, growers, pesticide applicators, crop consultants, and other stakeholders, convened by Goehring in July. Following the summit, he directed staff from NDDA’s pesticide and fertilizer and plant protection divisions to prepare the draft.
North Dakota has been the nation’s leading honey-producing state for the past decade. In 2012, the state produced 34.2 million pounds of honey from 495,000 colonies. The value of the honey crop was $64.6 million.
Nationally, beekeepers have struggled to maintain healthy honeybee colonies. In addition to bee health problems, some beekeepers have also experienced a widespread disappearance of bees, commonly referred to as colony collapse disorder. The factors blamed for decreasing health and colony collapse disorder include stress due to environmental changes, malnutrition, pests, parasites, disease, pesticide exposure, lack of genetic diversity and migratory beekeeping.
The plan to protect honeybees and other pollinators in North Dakota is available online.