Governor Charlie Baker, in support of National Pollinator Week, has declared June 21, 2021 to June 27, 2021 as Pollinator Week in Massachusetts to draw attention to the importance and health of pollinators in the Commonwealth. To celebrate, Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) Commissioner John Lebeaux joined state legislators for a visit to the State Apiary at the University of Massachusetts Agricultural Learning Center farm.
“This week is an opportunity to celebrate the vital contributions that pollinators provide to Massachusetts’ ecosystems and agricultural industry and reflect on the need to protect these important species,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “I encourage Massachusetts residents to support these pollinators and local food production by using the free kits offered by the Commonwealth to plant pollinator-friendly habitat.”
“Pollinators are key components of not only our economy but also keeping ecosystems healthy throughout the Commonwealth,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito.“They also create honey, which is a vibrant and growing agricultural commodity throughout the state.
The Commonwealth’s pollinators include 400 species of bees and other insect pollinators, such as beetles, flies, wasps, moths, and butterflies. Pollinators are vital to not only the ecosystem of native and cultivated plants but also key in sustaining the food supply through pollination.
The Baker-Polito Administration recently launched the “Growing Wild Massachusetts” campaign with a kickoff event at Weston Nursery in the Town of Hopkinton, which aims to promote and preserve pollinators throughout the Commonwealth and offers the public free Growing Wild starter kits and other educational resources to create pollinator-friendly native plant habitat and boost pollinator populations.
“During this week, and all throughout the year, we should celebrate the role of pollinators and the hardworking beekeepers who help take care of them,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides. “We can do our part by planting pollinator gardens filled with native plant species to attract and feed these species throughout the year and of course, by buying local honey.”
“Pollinator Week is an opportunity to not only celebrate our wonderful pollinators but also reflect on the importance of these organisms in sustaining the food supply in the Commonwealth,” said MDAR Commissioner John Lebeaux. “Honeybees alone contribute to over 45% of crop pollination in the state.”
Massachusetts is home to a diverse beekeeping industry, with over 6,000 beekeepers managing over 40,000 hives. In addition to pollination services, the honeybee industry also produces the specialty crop of honey. According to 2019-2020 MDAR Bee Aware Honey Bee Health Survey, two million pounds of honey, which is equivalent to $20 million, was produced in Massachusetts that year. The sale of live bees and hive equipment is also a substantial industry in the Commonwealth, with an estimated $6.5 million in sales of live bees in April and May 2021.
“Pollinators are critical to our agricultural system and are essential to the biodiversity of our natural ecosystem, said Mary Duane, President of the Massachusetts Beekeeping Association. “Pollinator week is a great time to celebrate all our pollinators and spread the word about what we collectively do to protect them.”
The Department of Agricultural Resources Apiary Program has been established to promote and ensure pollinator health in the Commonwealth. To assist in beekeeper education and provide support, MDAR created and maintains two state apiary facilities consisting of active honeybee hives. The purpose of these apiaries is to serve as vessels for education, outreach demonstrations and research related to agricultural sustainability, pollination, honeybee health and hive management. These apiaries also provide valuable pollination services to cultivated acreage of crops, gardens, trees and wildflowers.