Keeping bees on Long Island since 1949.

New York State Budget Slashes Apiary Inspection Program

by Grai St.Clair Rice, Ulster County Beekeepers Association

There should be no surprise that politics and lobbying often effects how public monies are being spent, whether federal, state or local funds. And, in an agricultural state as large as New York, beekeepers and small farmers are often left in the dust of commercial and market driven interests. The current budget crunch adds additional pressure. The NYS Agriculture Budget was one of the first to be finalized by the senate and signed by the governor this summer. The numbers say a lot, but there are hidden messages and deals in the offing.

The original budget submitted by the governor imposed extreme cuts to agriculture funding statewide. Senator Darrel Aubertine, Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, was able to have some funding to specific projects reinstated through the legislature’s revised budget, that was ultimately signed by the governor at the end of June. The Apiary Program, which includes the inspections program, was slashed from $400,000 to $0 in the governor’s budget, $200,000 was reinstated by senate and then cut again by the governor.

The Apiary Program, which is under the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets Division of Plant Industry, still exists with minimal staffing. The NYS Apiculturist Paul Cappy is still employed and there is some reserve money in the Apiary Program coffer, from previous years╩╝ surpluses, however the spring started with no apiary inspectors. “It’s a little like a shell game,” Cappy admits.

In July, with funds from the federal Farm Bill, two inspectors were reinstated for “Certification” duty only. These are essentially for inspecting the bees moving in, out and through the state by large operations. It is estimated that honeybees provide pollination for $300 million worth of fruits and vegetables in the state annually, and honey production worth more than $5 million. Cappy says that most of the migratory beekeepers they deal with are NYS commercial pollinators that over-winter in the south, travel for the lucrative pollination fees and then position their hives for the summer’s nectar flow, predominantly in the St. Lawrence River region. These commercial beekeepers have a collective voice which has influenced laws and practices affecting apiculture in this state, along with the financial squeeze currently applying pressure.

In March, the NYS Senate passed legislation, introduced by Sen. David J. Valesky, that repealed a provision that required beekeepers to register with the Department of Agriculture and Markets, and inform the state of the location and movement of all their hives. Few beekeepers, neither commercial or small backyard beekeepers, liked this regulation of their bees for many different reasons. All in all, this change was enacted as a budget saving measure.

Paul Cappy encourages beekeepers to fill out the voluntary HONEY BEE HEALTH INFORMATION FORM that can be downloaded at He says it’s a way to help keep track of the number and health of bees around the state, especially in this time of CCD and Nosema. When questioned about the value of the Apiary Inspection Program, he cites statistics showing a significant decline in American Foulbrood with successive years of an active inspection program. Last year there were ten seasonal apiary inspectors dispatched around the state to inspect apiaries big and small.

Keeping good inspectors has always been difficult because seasonal employment complicates everyone’s life. In addition, from 2006 to 2008 there was a distressing policy of not hiring inspectors residing in NYS who were also currently beekeepers, due to concerns about “conflict of interest”. This has now been changed and inspectors can have up to 50 colonies of bees. Cappy hopes in the future to hire full-time people, who can work in other areas of “Ags and Markets” during the winter months. This all seems like such a bureaucratic waste of money and good intentions. This is a good time for small, backyard beekeepers to put their heads together and figure out how we can be visible and be heard in NYS. If there are funds, either federal or state, put towards the very important field of honeybee health and the growth of apiaries in the future, it would be wonderful if we could encourage support in the direction of education of new beekeepers, a statewide push to promote good forage and sparing use of pesticides, and even monies for start-up hives, as has been done in recent years in New Jersey. A collective push towards a healthy honeybee future will take time, however we need to begin to formulate our strengths together as backyard beekeepers, and voice our concerns and our visions for the way forward.

The Importance of Bees


The importance of bees has never been greater than now. There was a time not too long ago when keeping bees was an easy task. Now we experience at the local and global level the impact of many maladies that all contribute to a degree to Colony Collapse Disorder, American and European Foul Brood Disease.

There are some theories as to why these problems exist, but one in particular reveals strong evidence that insecticides are the culprit.
If that isn’t enough to decimate the American honey industry let’s consider the invasion of Africanized bees coming from Central America or the illegal importation of substandard honey from China.

Did you know that thirty percent of what we eat exists only because honey bees pollinate our food? The almond industry in California supplies ninety percent of the almonds to the world. Moreover, several oilseed crops depend on pollinators, and bee pollination is required to produce the seeds of major forage and hay crops, such as alfalfa and clover, that feed the animals that supply meat and dairy products.

Honey is a great product made by the bees and is now more than ever realized of its magnificent healing qualities. We all love the great taste of honey, especially local honey, but did you know it will help your immune system fend off allergies. Imagine not having to take a chemical decongestant to stop your nose from running.

We have choices to correct the problems and bring back the bees to substantial numbers, our health depends on it.

Author: Wayne Vitale

The little bee returns with evening’s gloom,
To join her comrades in braided hive,
Where, housed beside their might honey-comb,
They dream their polity long survive.

Author: Charles Tennyson Turner
Source: A Summer Night in the Bee Hive

In the nice bee, what sense so subtly true
From pois’nous herbs extracts the healing dew?

Author: Alexander Pope
Source: Essay on Man

NYS Apiary Program Uncovers True Nosema

New York State Apiary Inspectors have been sampling apiaries for Nosema disease for three years. Nosema is a fungus that infects bees reducing overall bee health. Traditionally New York has had infestations of Nosema apis which had moderate impact on colonies and the fungus would not generally survive into fall. In 2009 44% of sampled apiaries had Nosema. Commercial beekeepers continue to have the largest rate of infestation of Nosema at 59%.
Read more at:

The Garden Column: Be Aware of Poison Ivy

By Juergen Jaenicke, MG
(Courtesy Cornell Cooperative Extension)

Poison Ivy can grow almost anywhere; you can find it in almost any garden, roadside, thicket, woods, park or even along sandy beaches.

Poison Ivy is a very undesirable weed that rapidly takes over an area by growing over the ground and climbing over trees and shrubs. It is very poisonous to many people, causing a very painful rash that can last for a few days to weeks. A skin rash can result from direct contact with any part of poison ivy plant or from exposure to the smoke from burning poison ivy plants.

Its shiny three-part leaves that grow on a vine or low-growing bush can identify the plant. The leaves of poison ivy grow opposite each other and consist of three leaflets two to four inches long. The greatest danger in touching the plant is in spring and summer when the volatile toxic oil is present in all parts of the plant. Even the smoke from burning poison ivy may cause some people to develop an itchy rash or burn.

If you brush against poison ivy, change your clothes as soon as possible and take a hot soapy shower. Launder all the clothes you were wearing as the toxic oil may remain on those clothes. Poison ivy cannot be easily or safely removed by digging as the vine has a rather extensive root system and the handling of leaves, stems or roots ia hazardous. Chemical control of poison ivy is very effective and safest for the applicator. Once the plant dies, it is best to let it decay because the dead plant is still poisonous. The non-selective herbicide Roundup (glyphosate) can be used to control/kill poison ivy; use according to label instructions. Treatment should be made during the summer. Do not burn, because the toxic material is volatile and can be carried in the smoke with disastrous results for any susceptible person downwind.

The Garden Column: Love Apples

By Juergen Jaenicke, MG
(Courtesy Cornell Cooperative Extension)

(Hi folks, I’m out of the hospital and limping around on a walker. My hip replacement went well and I’m looking forward to dancing with my garden partner.)

Here we are, its Memorial Day weekend and our garden is partially planted. (Brigitte did the job) The peas are blooming, cucumbers are looking good and we put in pepper and tomato plants. Hopefully, we will not have a repeat of the tomato blight we had last year and will have a great harvest.

Here are some tips for growing those delicious “love apples”.

Sunlight: Full sun (tomatoes need at least 8 hours of direct sun daily).

Soil conditions: Tomatoes tolorate acid soil and require well drained location.
Tomatoes prefer well-drained, fertile soil, high in organic matter. Clays and loams produce the highest yields. But lighter soils that drain and warm quickly can produce earlier harvests---particularly if they are on a slight slope to the south or southeast. They can tolerate slightly acid soils, as low as ph 5.5. But produces best when ph is 6.0 to 6.8. Consistant moisture needed to prevent blossom end rot, but does not tolerate waterlogged soils.

Ease-of-care: moderately difficult
Good soil, even moisture. Very labor intensive if you stake, prune or use plastic mulch and row covers. Easier if you purchase already well established plants. Difficult to start from seed.
(I never use seeds but always buy my plants from Farmingdale State College, where I volunteer. Like I said, I am a lazy gardener).

Height: 2 to 6 feet
Staked and pruned plants can grow to well over 6 feet tall in favorite growing season.

Spread: 2 to 6 feet
Staked and pruned plants can be trained to narrow spreads. Plants left to sprawl can spread 6 feet or more. If space is limited, plant a smaller variety.

General maintennance: Mulch plants after the soil has warmed up to maintain soil moisture and suppress weeds. Tomatoes need a constant supply of moisture. If it rains less than 1 inch per week, water to make up the difference.
Keep an eye out for pests! (pick ‘em by hand)

Good Luck and enjoy your tomatoes!