We are pleased to have Val Dolcini, the President and CEO of Pollinator Partnership as our guest blogger.
Help Contribute to the beekeepers and honey bees in Puerto Rico
As the US moves into winter with some beekeepers feeding heavily to make sure their bees have enough stores until spring, imagine trying to maintain active colonies with no forage – no nectar and no pollen in sight for months with no resources to bring in supplementary food for their colonies. Imagine viewing your apiary with boxes torn apart and bees swarming in open homes. This is what is happening to the beekeepers and honey bee colonies in Puerto Rico.
There are over 4,000 colonies on this US Territory and approximately 130 beekeepers trying to manage on an island where most of the plants were ripped out or mowed down by Hurricane Maria.
Much of the island has no basic necessities such as water, electricity and the infrastructure has been devastated making recovery that much worse. Nearly $780 million in crop losses have been recorded and these beekeepers provide pollination services that are critical to all fruits and vegetables in addition to coffee. These bees, more than ever, are vital to the recovery of Puerto Rican agriculture.
Beekeepers are trying to keep them alive in the short term by providing sugar water; but without a floral resource to provide essential proteins through pollen, surviving colonies are at risk of collapsing. In the continental U.S., beekeepers have access to commercially produced protein sources, in powdered form and patties. These commercial sources have been critical to beekeepers in Florida and Texas. However, these sources are unavailable in Puerto Rico.
Hurricane Maria also destroyed many of the Langstroth wooden hives used by beekeepers to house their bees. Bees that survived the destruction of their hives have swarmed, taking up residence in people’s homes and other structures. The beekeepers have reached out to USDA, APHIS and the private sector seeking help.
Beekeepers in the U.S. Virgin Islands are facing similar challenges, and we are working to learn more about their situation.
Unless we take immediate action to help them recover, both honey bees and production agriculture in Puerto Rico will remain at risk. Please help by contributing here.