Report: Honeybees need feed; humans need education

Don Jenkins

Legislature-commissioned report puts emphasis in restoring forage to revive health of honeybee colonies in Washington.

A new state report stresses restoring habitat, rather than restricting pesticides, as the best way to help honeybees in Washington.

“If you want to help bees, plant flowers,” said Washington State University Island County Extension Director Tim Lawrence, a bee researcher and member of the Honey Bee Work Group. “We need acres and acres of flowers.”

The Legislature set up the 12-member group amid concern that pests, chemicals and development are making honeybees fewer and weaker.

The panel has come back with a host of policy recommendations, many related to promoting bee-friendly practices among farmers and weed-control boards.

“It’s going to involve huge amounts of coordination,” said Ephrata commercial beekeeper Tim Hiatt, another work group member. “We’re looking for a beekeeping industry that is stable and growing.”

The report doesn’t attempt to assess the health of honeybee colonies or whether bee populations are declining. The report does identify several threats and singles out parasitic Varroa mites as the single biggest problem for U.S. bee hives since 1987.

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