Pa. Department of Agriculture: As Local Bee Populations Drop, Region Faces Stinging Economic Loss

economic impact of bees in Pennsylvania
Image via dasWebweib at Creative Commons.
Pennsylvania bees contribute a sweet sum to local economies.

Bees. We duck them. Swat them. And stir their honey into iced tea. But according to the Pa. Department of Agriculture, we seldom think about bees’ role in the economy. Stephanie Sigafoos and Molly Bilinsky combed through those details for The Morning Call.

Scientists and economists agree: For being such a relatively small insect, bees play a huge role in the state’s agribusiness. The pollen that they spread aids the state’s fruit and vegetable production.

A 2007 Pa. Department of Agriculture study estimated that each honeybee colony provided more than $1,600 to the local economy. Last year, our apiary industry had an estimated value of more than $76 million.

Honeybees’ importance in pollinating crops — everything from blueberries to almonds — has shifted attention to the threats to their health, namely pesticides, mites, and loss of habitat.

On the bees’ side, however, are societal shifts. The COVID-19 pandemic, for example, saw at-home residents delving into new hobbies that included beekeeping — and gardening. These two activities help bolster bees.

Marten Edwards, chair of Muhlenberg College’s biology department, said, “There are certain plants like echinacea and goldenrods that are nice to look at, and are really fantastic for pollinators [like bees].

“So you can have your cake and eat it, too.”

More on the economic importance of bees is at The Morning Call.

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