CATCH THE BUZZ – Engaged Beekeepers

Pollinator Stewardship Council

The “National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and other Pollinators” published before National Pollinator Week (June 15-21) seeks “engaged citizens” to do their part to protect pollinators.  It is a strategy to support all pollinators, including those in our cities and suburbs.

As the National Strategy is deciphered and digested, and the proposed Action Plans are assessed and revised, the process must involve “all hands on deck,” and that means beekeepers. The National Strategy is not a conclusion, it is not a magic wand, and it certainly does not address all of the issues affecting the health of pollinators.  If a part of the Strategy is weak, or not well-thought out, then beekeepers must come to the table with solutions, and action. Proclaiming the weaknesses of the National Strategy, and offering no solutions, does not help pollinators.  Agricultural stakeholders, beekeepers, farmers, applicators, regulators must show a willingness to compromise with other stakeholders, to come to the best solution for pollinators and the long-term sustainability and affordability of the food supply.

One action of the National Strategy is to encourage states to create State Pollinator Protection Plans.  These Plans offer the opportunity for stakeholders including beekeepers to develop local solutions to local problems to protect pollinators.  The EPA tasked the Association of American Pesticide Control Officers with creating a guidance document for states in developing their Pollinator Protection Plans (also called Managed Pollinator Plans or MP3s).

The Pollinator Stewardship Council has compiled these support documents in one place on our website ( ) from AAPCO, EPA, and from the few states who have already completed their State plans.   State beekeeping associations are integral to any pollinator protection plan impacting the honey bees in their state.  Beekeepers must be part of the process in developing these pollinator plans.  Not all mitigation efforts will be transferable from one state to the next, based on each state’s geography, crop diversity, and funding for pollinator plan support, administration, and/or enforcement.

Pollination affects all of us: the beekeeper, farmer, food wholesaler, food retailer, and food consumer.  We must all work together to develop reasonable, agreeable, fair State Pollinator Protection Plans.  While it would be easier for the Environmental Protection Agency to compile one MP3 plan for the entire country, it is unrealistic. States need to bring together all of the stakeholders, and create a Plan that reflects their state, their crops, their apiary programs and apiary research.  The MP3 planning process is an opportunity to evaluate the state apiary program for funding, staffing, and the creation of a state apiary program if the state does not have one.  The MP3 planning process is an opportunity for each stakeholder to learn from each other; to realize without pollination there is no crop yield: be it wind, rain, self-pollination, or insect pollination.  Facilitators of the MP3 planning meetings must be willing and capable to bring the stakeholders together, to listen to allthe needs of the all of the stakeholders, and to guide the stakeholders into developing actions which will result in a strategy where the MP3’s are truly Pollinator Protection Plans everyone can support.

For the National Strategy to work beekeepers must be at the table.  Beekeepers must participate in the development of their state pollinator protection plan.  Beekeepers must be involved in workgroups, task forces, coalitions, and collaborations.  Beekeepers cannot leave the protection of pollinators to NON-beekeepers.  Beekeepers must educate, and they must participate. Beekeepers can sit on the sidelines, and complain about various aspects of the plan, and flatly state, “it is not enough!”  Then, make it enough!  Be involved.  Bring your solutions and action to make the National Strategy effective. Beekeeper participation in the National Strategy is needed by national, state, and local beekeeping leaders.  These leaders need the support of other beekeepers to help beekeepers truly create protection for our honey bees and other pollinators.  The National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators has been published.  Objectives, goals, and a timeline have been set; beekeepers need to help move this Strategy forward, support that which will help you and your honey bees, help fix any weaknesses, and put solutions into action.  This National Strategy work will not wait for the beekeepers’ “down-time.”  The National Strategy work begins now!  Get involved, help your honey bees, your neighbor’s honey bees, the pollinators in your State, and the pollinators that support the country’s ecosystem.

National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators

Report of the Association of American Pesticide Control Officials (AAPCO) Committee  on  Managed pollinator protection plans, February 3. 2015, pages 1-3