ITHACA, NY – There’s been a growing buzz over the past several years that bees are dying at an alarming rate, with questions being raised about the impact the phenomenon might have on human food supplies.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo assembled a task force to examine how the bees and other pollinators could be protected. According to a press release from Cuomo’s office , pollinators provide approximately $344 million worth of polination services statewide.

State Senator Tom O’Mara, who represents Ithaca, and Cornell scientists from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) both contributed to this Pollinator Task Force, which unveiled its recommendations on Friday.

“Pollinators are oftentimes the unsung heroes of agriculture and food security, but without them many of New York’s most high value fruits would never see successful production,” said Boor in the press release.

At a press conference at Cornell’s Dyce Lab on Friday, O’Mara was joined by Ithaca’s Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton, Dean Kathryn J. Boor of CALS and several other state officials and stakeholders to announce the task force’s findings.

According to a press release, the plan outlines four priority areas:

  • Development of Voluntary Best Management Practices for all pollinator stakeholders, including beekeepers, growers, land owners, state agencies and the general public;
  • Habitat enhancement efforts to protect and revive populations of native and managed pollinators;
  • Research and monitoring of pollinators to better understand, prevent and recover from pollinator losses; and
  • Development of an outreach and public education program on the importance of pollinators, engaging the public to be active participants to seek solutions to pollinator declines.

You can read the full plan here: New York State Pollinator Protection Plan.

O’Mara described the decline in pollinators as a “critical agricultural, environmental and economic challenge.”

“The oversight, protection and recovery of native and managed honeybee and other native pollinator populations are critically important to the future strength and resiliency of so many of our farmers and producers, as well as to the agricultural industry overall in New York and states across the nation,” O’Mara said in a press release.

(Featured photo courtesy of The Daily English Show on Flickr)

Michael Smith reports on politics and local news for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached via email at, by cell at (607) 229-0885, or via Google Voice at (518) 650-3639.