New plan takes steps to protect Virginia's pollinators

(Photo: Sean McMullen / Youtube via MGN online)

RICHMOND, Va. (WSET) - Virginia's plan to protect honeybees and other pollinators went into effect in June.

The plan, called Virginia's Voluntary Plan to Mitigate the Risk of Pesticides to Managed Pollinators, is intended to reduce the risk of pesticides to honeybees and other pollinators.

“Here in Virginia and across the nation, people are concerned about the loss of honey bees,” Sandy Adams, Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, said, “and we have developed a plan that focuses on communication between pesticide applicators and beekeepers and the use of best management practices by farmers, beekeepers and pesticide applicators to protect our pollinators.”

The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services says farmers and gardeners depend on pollinators to produce important Virginia crops like apples, pumpkins, watermelons, cucumbers, squash, and berries.

Officials say pollination adds more than $24 billion in extra value to the nation's agricultural output each year.

The Commonwealth's plan is voluntary, and the plan's provisions resulted in part from seven listening sessions the department held across Virginia last year.

The plan stresses communication between beekeepers and applicators and includes guidelines for reducing pesticide exposure to managed pollinators.

Some examples include:

  • Providing advance notification to beekeepers of upcoming pesticide applications gives the beekeeper an opportunity to take actions to reduce the impact of pesticide exposure by covering or relocating hives.
  • Applying pesticides when bees are less likely to be foraging, preferably in the late afternoon and into the evening, will help reduce exposure.
  • Establishing apiaries in areas where there is a reduced risk of potential pesticide exposure to managed pollinators will help reduce exposure to bees.

“I believe people who participate in this voluntary plan will find that communication can reduce the exposure of pollinators to pesticides and at the same time allows applicators to implement pest control strategies,” Adams said. “We believe it is a workable plan for all concerned and I want to thank all those who participated in the discussions, developed the plan and are working together to protect our bees.”

For more information on the plan, click here.

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