Aug 25, 2013
03:02 AMThe Connecticut Story
Does Status of Bees Threaten Connecticut's $3.5 Billion Agrarian Industry?
Bees have been much in the news as apocalyptic reports of Colony Collapse Disorder, an umbrella term encompassing a myriad of apian woes, have appeared in the press. With the Western Honeybee reigning as the dominant pollinator of crops in the United States and Europe, the alarming disappearance of these bees is causing fears about the future production of food and the economies that underlie that production.
Of the 100 crop species that provide 90 percent of food worldwide, 71 are dependent on bee pollination, according to U.N. estimates. Even in tiny Connecticut, the bee is a key player in the $3.5 billion agrarian industry.
“That figure is for all of Connecticut’s agriculture, but it is still a big number,” said Mark Creighton, state apiary inspector for the Connecticut Agriculture Experimental Station in New Haven. “Just vegetable-type crops are an $80 million industry, so agriculture is still pretty important in Connecticut—and certainly bees are a main contributor through pollination.”
He noted that growers of apples, pears, blueberries and the like are very dependent on bee pollination and that it is a labor-intensive process for the tiny field workers.
“Many orchards hire managed bee colonies to pollinate the fruit,” Mr. Creighton said. “A bee may have to visit an apple blossom 10 times to get an apple with perfect size and form.”
At its very best, Connecticut is not the land of milk and honey for bees, though.