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Protecting Native Bees

Northeastern US

By NighatPublished 2 months ago 3 min read

Native bees are vital for apple pollination

in the Northeastern US.

However, the climate of this region poses a greater threat

of pests and diseases which can impact apple growth.

The good news?

Organizations are partnering with experts

to help farmers learn conservation techniques

so they can grow their apples and benefit the environment.

Keurig Dr Pepper is a leading food and beverage company

with a vested interest in apple pollination.

- To make Mott’s apple sauce,

we rely very heavily on this region of Upstate New York,

so the farmers that are growing apples in this region

are contributing the main ingredient to this product,

and so their successful harvest is our finished product.

It’s why they launched

the Apple Pollinator Program

to better support apple farmers, their crops,

and the local ecosystem.

- Fox Fruit Farms has been growing apples here

in Williamson, New York, for over 40 years.

The Pollinator Program is very important

to my family and our farm,

because without the native pollinators and bees,

there would be no apples.

Whitney: The Apple Pollinator Program is giving each farmer

a set of tailored recommendations specific to their farm.

When these recommendations are implemented,

they’ll have several positive impacts on the farm.

That includes supporting biodiversity

and optimizing pollination, which impacts yield.

Many farmers rely on sourcing rented honeybees

for apple pollination season,

but according to experts at Cornell University,

this isn’t a fail-safe solution.

- So while honeybees are really good insurance

for pollination on apple orchards,

they also are not native to North America,

and it’s critical to educate the farmers

on how to protect the local bee populations

around their orchards.

To the untrained eye,

native bees and rented honeybees look alike

but Cornell developed an assessment framework

to help farmers identify and monitor native bee populations.

With farmers collecting

and inputting data on the spot,

Cornell is able to prescribe

tailored habitat management programs.

Farmers also work with the IPM Institute

to implement safe pest management practices.

- Crop protection sprays are a necessary component

of growing fruit in the Northeast United States.

And so by learning about the impacts

of these crop protection materials,

we were able to find the ones that rose to the top

as being the safest for pollinators,

yet still effective at managing these pests

so that we have a good quality crop come harvest time.

A key method for monitoring pest activity

on the farm is known as scouting and trapping.

Peter: What the traps allow us to do is monitor for presence

of the pest before they’ve actually caused any injury,

and then based on that information,

we can determine when to most appropriately time

a crop protection spray.

The positive effects

of the Apple Pollinator Program

will also extend to Fox Fruit Farms and other farms

in Upstate New York whose livelihoods depend

on apple growth.

Amanda: Being right here next to the lake,

it’s a great area to grow apples.

So that has brought a lot of jobs to the community.

And even having the Mott’s applesauce plant in our town,

that’s brought a ton of jobs to the factory.

So, it’s very big in our community.

And as local suppliers,

the Fox family gets to see

the fruits of their labor every year.

- Apple farming is also very rewarding,

because we’re able to look at the trees

and we see exactly where the apple is coming from,

and it’s very cool to then go into our local stores

and see the Mott’s applesauce on the shelves

and know that that applesauce came directly from our trees.

It takes a village

to develop sustainable pollination practices,

but ultimately,

this work will set up future success for all.

Whitney: In a partnership like this,

the positive impact that we can bring

is bringing these experts to the table

along with the farmers,

and working together

to make the supply chain more resilient.

My hope is that this program is the beginning

of a whole new chapter

where we’re finding those win-win collaborations

that are good for farmers, good for the local ecosystem,

and good for Keurig Dr Pepper’s business.


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