SUPPORT THE HONEY BEE

A new Virginia bill, H.B. 517, proposes making the Honey Bee the state pollinator of Virginia.

Learn why the honey bee is important and why we need to recognize it.

Use our pre-filled letter to write the Virginia House Rules Committee.

Why is recognizing the Honey Bee important?

Honey bees have fascinated humanity across cultures, including Virginia’s, since the beginning of recorded history. By studying them, even young children can begin to sense that purpose permeates everything and that the world and its creatures are ordered, wondrous, and awe-inspiring.

We believe that each generation has an obligation to the next to pass on this awareness.

One of the best things we can do on behalf of honey bees, the Earth, and the health and happiness of future generations is to point out to children easily understandable examples of the interconnected order and beauty in the natural world.

Passage of H.B. 517 will increase the chances that every child in Virginia will have his or her eyes opened to the wonder of honey bees.

The Honey Bee came to Virginia with the first colonial expeditions.

Honey bees arrived in Virginia with colonists in 1622.

The earliest record documenting the introduction of honey bees is a letter in the “Records of the Virginia Company of London” dated December 5, 1621. These hives reportedly arrived at City Point in 1622.

Western honey bee
Apis mellifera
English colonists at Jamestown

Virginian colonists kept bees to make important products like honey and beeswax.

Honey was an important sweetener, since sugar was not easily available. Beeswax was used for candles and to waterproof shoes, tools, and houses.

Nearly all colonial farms kept beehives in the eaves of their outbuildings. Thomas Jefferson and George Washington both kept beehives at Monticello and Mount Vernon.

Today, Virginia’s agriculture industry depends on honey bees to pollinate over 1/3 of all state crops.

Honey bees add $23 million in value to the apple industry alone, according to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS).

“In Virginia, about a third of our crops have to be pollinated to produce or produce well. If you take three bites of food, and if you have no pollinators, you have to take one of those away.” — Elaine Lidholm, VDACS

But honey bees are declining to critical levels from disease, cold winters, and pesticides.

“The number of managed honey bee colonies in the United States has declined steadily over the past 60 years, from 6 million colonies (beehives) in 1947… to just 2.5 million today.” — The White House

“Since 2007, an average of 30% of all colonies have died every winter in the United States. This loss is about twice as high as what U.S. beekeepers consider economically tolerable.” — CNN

Virginian beekeepers and farmers suffer from low honey bee populations too.

Recognizing the honey bee as Virginia state pollinator is just one step to take toward securing the honey bee’s future.

%

of all Virginia crops require pollination

%

of all fruit varieties are pollinated by honey bees

%

of all US bee colonies die every winter

Honey bees are responsible for much of our landscape as well as our modern agricultural success. They deserve recognition and protection. We owe it to them.

Can you guess which of these modern Virginia cash crops are native?

Honey bees helped shape the early Virginian landscape, along with other imported animals and plants from the Old World.

Write Virginia Delegates

Let the Virginia House Rules Committee know that you support the Honey Bee for Virginia’s state pollinator! We have a pre-filled email for you to customize. Add your name and anything you want to tell them. When you’re ready, click send!

The Committee will vote on H.B. 517

  • I Support the Honey Bee and H.B. 517

  • I am writing to ask that you support the addition of the Honey Bee (Apis mellifera) as official state pollinator to the H.B. 517 official emblems and designation.

    The honey bee is the most important asset to the pollination of agricultural crops. According to VDACS, agriculture is the largest private industry in Virginia. The link to the importance the honey bee plays in the vital role in the economy of Virginia should be clear. VDACS states that honey bees are essential pollinators for about one-third of the state’s fruit and vegetable crops. Without adequate pollination services, Virginia could experience a significant reduction in its harvest of apples, alfalfa, berries, cucumbers, melons, peaches, squash, tomatoes and pumpkins. The honey bee is also essential to maintaining our Virginia's beautiful fields, wildflowers, and forests.

    I have heard some say that honey bee is not native to Virginia, but most of us are not native to Virginia either. Most of the industries that are iconic to Virginia, including cotton and tobacco, along with our cash crops like livestock, apples, soybeans, pumpkins, potatoes, and tomatoes, are also not native. We have a rich cultural history drawn from many parts of the world. The honey bee came along around the same time most of us Virginians did—along with some of the earliest American settlers who entered at Jamestown in the early 1600’s. Native pollinators, while critical to our ecosystem, are not efficient or effective pollinators for managed crops. Honey bees are the most important pollinators in agriculture because they are manageable, moveable, adaptable and will not harm the plants in the pollination process.

    Designating the honey bee Virginia’s “Official State Pollinator” will encourage a greater public awareness and education about the importance of pollination and the honey bee and the role in agriculture in our great State. There is a very significant presence of agriculture in the State and bee farmers in nearly every county.

  • I hope that I can count on you to support the addition of pollinator European/Western Honey Bee (Apis mellifera) to the H.B. 517 official emblems and designation.

  • Signed,

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Virginia Delegates

This letter will be sent to all Virginia delegates in the House of Representatives: The list includes Anthony, Bonita G.; Arnold, Jonathan E.; Askew, Alex Q.; Austin, Terry L.; Ballard, Jason S.; Batten, Amanda E.; Bennett-Parker, Elizabeth B.; Bloxom, Robert S., Jr.; Bulova, David L.; Callsen, Katrina; Campbell, Ellen H.; Carr, Betsy B.; Cherry, Mike A.; Clark, Nadarius E.; Cohen, Laura Jane; Cole, Joshua G.; Convirs-Fowler, Kelly K.; Cordoza, A.C.; Cousins, Rae C.; Coyner, Carrie E.; Davis, Will P.; Delaney, Karrie K.; Earley, Mark L., Jr.; Ennis, N. Baxter; Feggans, Michael; Fowler, Hyland F. (Buddy), Jr.; Freitas, Nicholas J.; Gardner, Debra D.; Garrett, Tom; Gilbert, C. Todd; Glass, Jackie Hope; Green, William C.; Griffin, Timothy P.; Hayes, C. E. (Cliff), Jr.; Helmer, Dan; Henson, Rozia A., Jr.; Hernandez, Phil M.; Herring, Charniele L.; Higgins, Geary M.; Hodges, M. Keith; Hope, Patrick A.; Jones, Michael J.; Kent, Hillary Pugh; Keys-Gamarra, Karen; Kilgore, Terry G.; Knight, Barry D.; Krizek, Paul E.; Laufer, Amy J.; Leftwich, James A. (Jay), Jr.; LeVere Bolling, Destiny L.; Lopez, Alfonso H.; Lovejoy, Ian T.; Maldonado, Michelle Lopes; Marshall, Daniel W., III; Martinez, Fernando J.; McClure, Adele Y.; McNamara, Joseph P.; McQuinn, Delores L.; Milde, Paul V., III; Morefield, James W. (Will); Mundon King, Candi; Oates, Delores; Obenshain, Joseph C.; O’Quinn, Israel D.; Orrock, Robert D., Sr.; Owen, David L.; Phillips, Eric J.; Price, Marcia S. (Cia); Rasoul, Sam; Reaser, Atoosa R.; Reid, David A.; Runion, Chris; Scott, Don; Scott, Phillip A.; Seibold, Holly M.; Sewell, Briana D.; Shin, Irene; Sickles, Mark D.; Simon, Marcus B.; Simonds, Shelly A.; Srinivasan, Kannan; Sullivan, Richard C. (Rip), Jr.; Tata, Anne Ferrell H.; Taylor, Kimberly A.; Thomas, Josh; Torian, Luke E.; Tran, Kathy KL; Wachsmann, Howard Otto, Jr.; Walker, Wendell S.; Ward, Jeion A.; Ware, R. Lee; Watts, Vivian E.; Webert, Michael J.; Wiley, William D. (Bill); Willett, Rodney T.; Williams, Wren M.; Wilt, Tony O.; Wright, Thomas C., Jr.; Wyatt, Scott A.; and Zehr, Eric.

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Petition created by Sweet Virginia. © 2024. All rights reserved.

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Honey bee information: Sweet Virginia, Rockwood Bee Keepers, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the White House, and the 2016 National Agricultural Statistics Service. Apple information: Brooklyn Botanic Garden.