PA Dept. of Ag: Honey Bees Are Critical to Agriculture and Feeding Pennsylvanians

Honey Bee DayCredit: Commonwealth Media Services

MILLERSBURG, PA — The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture was joined yesterday by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) and agriculture partners to celebrate the honey bee’s critical role in food production, food security, and biodiversity in Pennsylvania for Honey Bee Day (Aug. 20) at the Ned Smith Center for Nature and Art.

The value of Pennsylvania’s apiary industry is estimated at more than $76 million; much of this is attributed to increased yield and quality in crops that are partially or completely dependent on honey bees for pollination.

“Honey bees, and everyone who tends to them and educates about them, are critical to agriculture and feeding Pennsylvanians,” said Agriculture Deputy Secretary for Plant Industry and Consumer Protection Fred Strathmeyer. “One out of every three bites we eat is made possible because of pollinators, including honey bees, and their role in promoting biodiversity and plant health in our food system.”

In Pennsylvania, more than 6,000 registered beekeepers manage more than 61,000 honey bee colonies.

Honey bees and other pollinators are also critical to the environment. More than 80 percent of the world’s flowering plants need to be pollinated in order to reproduce.

“Pollinators including bees help many flowering plants reproduce, and in turn are dependent on plants for food and habitat,” DCNR Bureau of Forestry Conservation and Ecological Resources Division Chief Rebecca Bowen said. “Protecting the land, planting native species, and converting lawn to meadows and forests are ways we all can help bees, butterflies, and other pollinators so they can continue to help us produce food and ensure diversity in our ecosystems.”

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DCNR manages about 2.5 million acres of forest and park land that provide habitat for pollinators, plants, and wildlife; educates the public about the importance of biodiversity and native species; and leads a program to convert lawns to meadows and trees for pollinators and water quality.

Honey bees pollinate and help increase quality and yield of produce grown in Pennsylvania, including apples, melons, cranberries, cherries, pears, onions, cucumbers, pumpkins, squash, broccoli, almonds, berries, and much more.

“Bees are incredible creatures that are as crucial to growing fruits and vegetables as the men and women who help care and protect,” said Jessica Groves, community impact manager, The GIANT Company. “The GIANT Company relies on both greatly; without them, our signature produce departments and mealtimes around the table would look much different, with many of our favorite items missing from plates. We’re proud to join the Pennsylvania Departments of Agriculture and Conservation and Natural Resources, Penn State, and our partner, Planet Bee Foundation, to celebrate Honey Bee Day and raise awareness of the essential role they and all bees play in feeding families in the commonwealth and beyond.”

Pennsylvania is home to hundreds of species of pollinators (bees, butterflies, moths, flies, beetles , and more), with more than 500 species of bees alone. Pennsylvania also has one of the most diverse crop systems in the U.S. In total, these crops contribute $260 million to Pennsylvania annually.

The Pennsylvania Pollinator Protection Plan was developed by Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences with input from 28 state and national organizations and stakeholder groups, including the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. The plan describes the current state of pollinators in Pennsylvania and provides recommendations for best practices and resources to support and expand pollinator populations.

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Learn more about Honey Bee Day in Pennsylvania from Governor Wolf’s proclamation. Visit the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture’s website to learn about its apiary and pollinator services, and visit Penn State’s Center for Pollinator Research for more information about pollinators.

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