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Protecting pollinators in New York

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JENNA FLANAGAN/WMHT
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Protecting New York’s food supply includes more than farmers and land. It means protecting the pollinating insects that allow plants to reproduce and grow.

To help ensure that amateur gardeners and bee keepers help protect the nurturing insect population, the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Albany held a New York State Pollinator Conference.

Emma Mullen, an associate with the Entomology Department of Cornell University, spoke at the conference on the well being of honeybees, which have seen a sharp decline in colonies by 54%.

She says bees and other pollinators are responsible for one out of every 3 bites of food and in New York 12 of its major crops depend on pollinators for survival.  

Susan Kegley, with the Pesticide Research Institute also spoke at the conference on the hidden danger of neonicotinoids. The chemicals are a popular because they’re non-toxic to humans and other mammals but are highly toxic to bees. Kegley says the neonicotinoids are water-soluble so they can easily wash into soil and get absorbed by the plant making its nectar dangerous to bees.

“There’s many ways to control insects that don’t involve pesticides at all and one approach is to plant more flowers because the beneficial insects that act as predators will come and eat your pest insects. If they have nectar to drink in the periods when there are no pest insects to eat. So one of my main strategies for combating pests is, plant more flowers.” 

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