Schumer urges USDA to continue honey bee data collection

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MORRISONVILLE, N.Y.- The U.S. Department of Agriculture is suspending data collection on honey bee colonies. It’s a move beekeepers in the North Country say could sting.

The bees are buzzing at Dick Crawford’s Adirondack Bee Supply in Morrisonville, New York.

“I’ve got five million employees and no labor problem,” he said.

But there could be some other challenges for Crawford on the horizon.

According to the USDA, the number of active honey bee colonies plummeted from six million in the 1940’s to about 2.5 million in 2017. Nearly 15,000 bees were lost in New York alone.

“It is a great mystery as to why. No one quite knows why so many be colonies are dying off,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D- New York.

It’s why Schumer is calling on the USDA to reverse its plans to suspend collecting data on honey bee colonies. Without it, he says beekeepers like Crawford are left in the dark.

“It tells us everything,” said Schumer. “If you know more are dying out in one place than the other, you can say maybe it’s this, maybe it’s that.”

With decades of experience, Crawford has narrowed down some of the issues his colony of bees face.

“There is the pesticides that do occur when dandelions start to bloom,” said Crawford. “That is when we see a handful of dead bees in front of our hives.”

Schumer says a dying bee population will also have an impact on the local agriculture industry in Clinton, Essex and Franklin counties which totals nearly $300 million.

“We have a great apple crop here in the north country,” said Schumer. “Without our honey bees, we would have no apples because they pollinate.”

It’s unclear as to why the USDA plans to stop collecting the data. Schumer suspects its budget cutters, non-believers of global warming and the pesticide industry that have infiltrated the agency.

“We don’t know which one of them it is,” he said. “We do know one thing, we need this money restored.”

Schumer says he plans to use next budget cycle to secure the funding needed for the data collection, which is about $12 million.

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