This week is being observed as National Pollinator Week and Kentucky’s state apiarist is sounding an optimistic tone about growing the Commonwealth’s bee population over the next five years.
Those buzzing insects will likely be needed to help meet the increasing demand for local produce.
State Beekeeper Tammy Horn-Potter says wintertime bee losses this year were lower than in the previous two years. But parasite pathogens and midday pesticide use continue to threaten bee colonies.
Horn-Potter says the passing of beekeeping on to a younger generation is important to help increase bee hive numbers. “I’ve really tried to work at getting schools involves, getting grants that would pay people to work with schools,” said Horn-Potter.
One of the threats to a successful and healthy bee colony is pesticide use.
Kentucky officials are touting the potential health consequences found in the mosquito-borne Zika virus. But, Horn-Potter says crews typically conduct spraying overnight.
“That product is called duet which is actually derived from Chrysanthem, so it’s a naturally occurring toxin,” noted Horn-Potter. “But, that product has plenty of time to dry before pollinators start working in the day.”
Horn-Potter says an increasing interest in organic crops across Kentucky just increases the need for boosting bee numbers.
Specifically the state apiarist wants to see more sideline beekeepers who have between 30 and 100 beehives. She says the majority of beekeepers are hobbyists with fewer hives.