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House of Representatives
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: July 19, 2017 12:11 PM
From: Representative Madeleine Dean
To: All House members
Subject: Legislation Designating the Western Honey Bee (Apis mellifera) as the Official Pollinator of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
In the near future, I plan to introduce legislation that would designate the western honey bee (Apis mellifera) as the official pollinator of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

The western honey bee, also known as the European honey bee, is considered to be the most widely domesticated of honey bee species located throughout the world. The western honey bee is native to Europe, Western Asia, and Africa, but was introduced to other continents beginning in the 17th century and can now be found in East Asia, North America, and South America.

Honey bees are unique in that they are the only insects that produce food that is consumed by humans. However, more importantly than providing a consumable supply of honey is the vital role that the western honey bee plays relative to the pollination of crops. The western honey bee is responsible for the pollination of at least 90 commercially grown crops and nearly 75 percent of all fruits, nuts, and vegetables produced in North America.

According to the United State Department of Agriculture (USDA), nearly one-third of all agricultural production in the United States is dependent on pollinators, particularly the western honey bee, and roughly one in every three mouthfuls of food consumed by residents of our nation is directly or indirectly the result of honey bee pollination. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, pollinators contribute more than $24 billion worth of services to the United States’ economy on an annual basis.

Unfortunately, populations of global pollinator species, including the western honey bee, have experienced a severe decline over a period of several decades. The continued decline of western honey bee populations would pose a significant risk to the United States’ economy and domestic agriculture industry. It is believed that several factors may have contributed to the decrease of domesticated and wild honey bee populations worldwide, including Colony Collapse Disorder, which kills the worker bee populations of a hive. The USDA is currently collecting data, analyzing bee samples, doing research, and conducting mitigation and prevention measures regarding CCD and honey bee populations. The continued decline of western honey bee populations poses a significant risk to the United States’s economy and domestic agriculture industry.

I hope you will join me in supporting the designation of the western honey bee as the official pollinator of Pennsylvania and help raise awareness of the importance of western honey bees.