I have been doing background research for the upcoming September meeting of the New Jersey Beekeepers Association and NJ Senator Jennifer Beck re: the NJ Farmland Assessment Act. I have been in contact with numerous State Beekeeping Associations, entomologists, honeybee researchers and national beekeeping and pollinator organizations
One of the organizations I contacted was the Partners for Sustainable Pollination. I heard good things about them from a number of American Beekeeping Federation officers. They are a partner of the USDA’s National Resources Conservation Service and in addition to providing advocacy for the Honeybee they offer a Bee Friendly Farmer Certification program.
The following excerpt provides a good example of their advocacy of the honeybee. It comes from the PFSP 2009 document PFSP Comments to FSA on CRP Supplemental EIS—Encourage Quality Forage for Honey Bees on CRP Lands on Expedited Basis
Habitat Forage Essential for Honey Bee Health and Viability of Beekeepers
While honey bees and native bees can be regarded as agricultural inputs akin to tractors and fertilizer, they are unique in that they are biological inputs that require maintenance and nutrition throughout the year. They can’t just be put on the shelf until they are needed for the next pollination season.
There is a broad scientific consensus that natural forage and nutrition are essential to good bee health and to bees’ ability to cope with pests, pathogens and other stressors. Improving natural forage for honey bees and native pollinators is a proven method of contributing to their health and sustainability.
Historically, beekeepers have had access to bee forage after their bees finish pollinating crops for the season. Unlike other sectors in agriculture, most beekeepers do not have control over the land they need to nourish and manage their bees. They are essentially “guests” of other landowners and are dependent on others to provide safe habitat and practices needed for bee pasture they need to keep their honey bees adequately nourished and healthy honey bees. Over the decades, a number of forces including urbanization, changes in agricultural practices and pesticide use, and bans on honey bees at restoration projects on public lands have combined to decrease the acreage and sites available as safe bee pasture to beekeepers and their bees. The impact of the lack of availability of natural forage and resulting poor nutrition on the health of honey bees is well documented.
Entomologists agree that bees require a mixing of pollens throughout the year to acquire the necessary proteins, lipids, vitamins, minerals and micronutrients required by bees to be at their healthiest—or another way to view it—their most resistant to pests and pathogens. Proper nutrition is also essential for the physiological development of bees to live their intended life span.
Pollens are the health food in honey bee colonies. They provide protein, lipids, vitamins, minerals, sterols, antioxidants and other nutrients required by the bees. No single pollen source can provide all the nutrients required in the diet of honey bees. This can become particularly important when colonies are used for pollinating commercial crops where cultivation and herbicides are used for “clean cultivation” or “removal of competing bloom.” In order to have colonies populated with the most robust bees, best capable of dealing with diseases, parasites, and exposure to toxic chemicals, colonies need access to a good mix of quality pollens.