Ind. Farmers Urged To “Bee” Aware Of Pollinators
By Veronica Carter, Indiana News Service
A collaborative effort is under way to protect honeybees. Photo via ncdag.gov.
(Indianapolis, Ind.) – Indiana is one of the top soybean producing states in the country, and a major endeavor is under way to educate farmers about helping save honeybees, which are crucial to agriculture.
The Honey Bee Health Coalition this month unveiled a management plan for growers.
Adam Dolezal, an assistant professor at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, did the research for the report. He says several factors have led to massive bee die-offs, including pesticide use and loss of habitat.
“Surely there’s no question that farming huge amounts of land with one or two crops throughout areas that used to not be cropland has an impact on pollinators,” he points out. “But I think farmers are interested in seeing recommendations to reduce any impacts that they might have.”
Recommendations for farmers include spraying fields at night when bees are less active, avoiding applying pesticides during bloom time, and determining where hives are located around the farm.
Last year farmers planted nearly 6 million acres of soybeans in Indiana, about 4 percent higher than in 2016.
Soybeans are one of the top U.S. crops, second only to corn, and 75 percent of the nation’s bees spend their summers in the upper Midwest.
Chris Hiatt, vice president of the American Honey Producers Association, says the guidelines can help keep bees healthy.
“An almond grower here is enjoying strong hives that came from North Dakota in the summer where a guy didn’t spray his weeds or his sunflowers at the wrong time and killed the bees,” Hiatt relates. “You know, it’s all one big system.”
Meagan Kaiser grows soybeans in Missouri, and says farmers want to see pollinators thrive.
“Through the Honeybee Health Coalition, we are putting together a list of resources and best management practices so that we as farmers can be aware of how we can do something about the decline in bee health,” she states.
The decline in honeybees is linked to pests and disease, poor nutrition, hive management and exposure to pesticides.