Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Ohio beekeepers asking for help

The Ohio State Beekeepers Association is requesting letters from Ohioans to Governor Strickland and Ohio Director of Agriculture Robert Boggs protesting planned cuts in the Ohio Department of Agriculture's Apiary Program, which would eliminate the last remaining trained apiculturist from the program and assign his duties to pest inspectors. The OSBA believes this will cripple the program at a crucial point, when honeybees are already threatened.

Here is the OSBA position paper:
The honey bee, essential to crop pollination and a healthy environment, is threatened by planned cuts to the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s (ODA) Apiary Program. Honey bees not only produce honey, they are essential for the pollination of over 90 food and forage crops. One third of our food supply, or every third bite you take, depends on honey bee pollination. The USDA estimates the value of honey bee pollination to U.S. agriculture to be in excess of 14 billion dollars annually. A 2005 Ohio Department of Agriculture report estimates the value of honey bee pollination to Ohio agriculture to be 44 million dollars annually.

Mounting threats to the honey bee such as parasitic mites, diseases and Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), which has received much publicity in the past year, have endangered the honey bee and the beekeeping industry in Ohio and around the world. The ODA Apiary Program has worked to protect the honey bee in Ohio since 1905 through a program of inspection and regulation. However, a series of cuts in the Apiary Program over the past decade has reduced the trained apiary staff within the ODA from a total of six to one, a level of staffing that is barely adequate to maintain an effective program.

Due to the budgetary crisis and the need to cut expenditures, the ODA plans to reduce the apiary program even farther this summer. The sole trained and experienced apiculturist (beekeeper) responsible for supervising the apiary program will be eliminated and his inspection duties will be assigned to plant inspectors within the plant pest program. These hastily trained persons with little or no prior experience as beekeepers will be expected to fulfill the responsibilities of a state bee inspector while dividing their time between their duties as plant inspectors and bee inspectors. The ODA maintains that their plans are adequate to protect the honey bee industry in Ohio.

The Ohio State Beekeepers’ Association (OSBA) disagrees. To be effective the apiary program requires a trained, experienced apiculturist in a supervisory capacity not just to maintain the bee inspection program but to advise the ODA on issues affecting honey bees in Ohio and to represent the state of Ohio in critical cooperation and collaboration with other states and federal agencies to protect the beekeeping industry. If the ODA implements these reductions in staff as they plan to do this summer we feel that the safety net that has helped to protect the honey bee in Ohio since 1905 will collapse. These cuts would jeopardize the honey bee population in Ohio, an essential natural resource, and would in turn jeopardize Ohio’s agricultural production, Ohio’s environment and Ohio’s economy. Please contact the Director of the Department of Agriculture and the Governor to urge them not to make these cuts to this essential program.
Here are email links for Governor Strickland and Director Boggs.

Here's what I sent:
I am writing to protest the proposed cuts in the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s Apiary Program. I urge you to rescind the proposed cuts to the apiary program. Rather than cutting this program, perhaps the funds to continue it could be found by raising fees to beekeepers for the services the program provides.

Thank you.

Make sure to sign it! And providing your phone number will let the recipients see you are indeed an Ohioan.


Woodstone Creek said...

Thanks for alerting us to this, Valerie. Woodstone Creek Winery makes 8 different types of honeywine. Our honey prices have skyrocketed over the last ten years with the most drastic increases coming the last 6 months. This news comes at a critical time as honey shortages have been blamed worldwide on unchecked diseases in the hives. Many Ohio wineries make honeywine. They should be concerned about this budget cut. Local supplies are dwindling!

sally said...

I found this site recently, The Great Sunflower Project (http://www.greatsunflower.org/.) Lots of good bee info and they offer a way to help out.
In her nineties my grandmother was forced to hand-pollinate her tomatoes with a feather - there were few if any bees around (eastern Washington). Figuring out what the bees need and finding a way to give it to them should be a priority right now.

valereee said...

Sally, I actually have an earlier post about The Great Sunflower Project here.

Veggie Option said...

You may be interested to read this article over on EarthFiles, about the worsening state of U.S. honeybee colonies. http://www.earthfiles.com/news.php?ID=1416&category=Environment

EarthFiles stories go into archive (paid subscription only) after I believe 30 days, so read before it's gone!

Anonymous said...

Hi man

It is my first time here. I just wanted to say hi!