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Audit challenges New York to be more protective of honeybees

J.D. Allen
Honeybees in Sagaponack, New York.

An audit of New York’s plan to protect pollinators says the state needs to increase efforts to help save honeybees.

New York established its Pollinator Protection Plan in 2016 to safeguard bees and other pollinators after decades of drastic population declines.

J.D. Allen
Honeybees in Sagaponack, New York.

With 50% fewer managed honeybee colonies estimated in 2016, farming and food production are more difficult for New York’s 7 million acres of farmland, especially due to the changing climate.

Under the plan, the state Department of Agriculture and Markets creates policies aimed at invasive pests and disease, as well as pesticides and other chemicals that kill bees. Varroa mites are the most serious pest of honeybees, according to the USDA.

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s audit found that the department could do more to enforce a 2021 law that requires beekeepers to register their colonies and report on the health of their honeybees. Of 120 apiaries selected for random review, 112 had not registered with the department, as of August 2022.

He also wants New York to develop a plan to ensure new shipments of climate resilient honeybees into the state are certified disease- and parasite-free.

Between 2017 and 2021, 75% of Maryland beekeepers — which is the most common location honeybees are shipped from — did not receive a permit or certification from the department.

In its response, the department agreed with the findings and will work to follow the recommendations.

A native Long Islander, J.D. is WSHU's managing editor. He also hosts the climate podcast Higher Ground. J.D. reports for public radio stations across the Northeast, is a journalism educator and proud SPJ member.