Scientists have made it clear that there is a pollinator crisis in America, honey bees in particular. While the state of Florida has over 300 species of bees, honey bees do the majority of the pollinating. Unlike other bee species, beekeepers can manage honey bees to improve various crops. In Florida, crops like onions, watermelons, blueberries, and cucumbers rely on the honeybees in order to flourish.
In fact, roughly a third of all grown food is a direct result of honey bee activity. Unfortunately, the native bee population in American is plummeting. Seventy years ago, there were 6 million honey bee colonies. Now, there are only 2.5 million. Scientists pin most of this rapid decline on a phenomenon known as colony collapse disorder. During the winter of 2006 into 2007, 23% of the honey bee population died.
Promoting Florida Pollinator Health
With so much of the Florida agriculture industry reliant on honey bees, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) has taken steps to protect its pollinators. FDACS launched a bee protection program and offers information to growers and beekeepers alike on reducing stressors that harm the bees as well as which pesticides are best to protect both bees and crops. FDACS’ program aims to:
- Improve and nurture communication among farmers, beekeepers, pesticide users, and landowners
- Develop best practices to improve the ecosystem health for pollinators
- Assist all parties in a coordinated effort to improve bee health
The decline of bees is worrisome as bee health is a good indicator of the environment’s health. As northern beekeepers trek down to Florida during the winter months, they provide a much-needed boost to existing colonies.
Signs of improving bee populations have cropped up across the state as more homeowners place calls for bee removal from their property. Some believe the improved bee population is due to a relaxing on bee removal regulations. Before, an excessive use of pesticides was the only option to remove bees from unwanted areas.
While there is a long way to go to recover the bee population, the state of Florida is making a concerted effort to facilitate that goal. To learn more about the stressors affecting Florida’s agriculture industry, contact the experts at MMA Florida.