Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Beekeepers Swarm to Plan for Hive Protection

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Beekeepers Swarm to Plan for Hive Protection

Article excerpt

OKLAHOMA CITY - Oklahoma apiary operators will consider Tuesday a more explicit plan than the federal government's suggestions to keep their beehives healthy.

The state Department of Agriculture is hosting a hearing to gather comments on a proposed managed pollinator protection plan at 1 p.m. Tuesday in Langston University's Oklahoma City offices, 4205 N. Lincoln Blvd. The plan is a response to the Obama administration's release earlier this year of conclusions from the federal Pollinator Health Task Force concerning several years of dramatic losses in honeybee populations.

Beekeepers are struggling with the ongoing threat of colony collapse disorder, which has caused an average bee loss of more than 28 percent nationwide, according to the Bee Informed Partnership. Bees are a vital component of the country's food engine, responsible for helping produce more than $11 billion in U.S. crops in 2009, federal task force researchers wrote.

So Oklahoma's commercial beekeepers - even small, family-owned operations usually sell honey, state officials said - have good reason to work together. In addition to explicit policy and practical matters that can be put into action right away, the state Agriculture Department's proposal also raises an implied question about the degree to which beekeepers can manage the problem without additional government oversight.

"It is imperative that we take immediate steps to help pollinator populations thrive," Agriculture Department researchers wrote in the plan draft. "Our goal is reducing pollinator exposure to pesticides without causing undue hardship or economic damage to Oklahoma's agricultural industry. Additionally we plan to bring awareness of the issues faced by pollinators from pesticides and find a way for everyone to be part of a solution."

Suzanne Govett owns 12 hives near Arcadia and is vice president of the Central Oklahoma Beekeepers Association. She said she wants to attend Tuesday's conference to review the plan and offer a few suggestions. She would like to see more publicly owned rights of way used as wildflower plots to support the industry, for example. …

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