Beekeepers Fund Research

Two leading beekeepers in the Pacific Northwest, Eric Olson of Yakima and Tom Hamilton of Nampa, Idaho, have made donations to Washington State University as seed money for research to find out the cause of a phenomenon known as Colony Collapse Disorder, which has wiped out thousands of beehives through the region.

Noyes Apiaries in New Plymouth, Idaho; the Idaho Honey Association; and the Washington State Beekeepers’ registration fund also have made contributions. With those donations and dedicated funds from the WSU Agricultural Research Center, researchers will spend nearly $200,000 over the next two years.

The Washington State Beekeepers Association estimates that Washington’s beekeepers have lost between 35 and 50 percent of their bees in recent years, according to a press release from WSU. Olson, who lost 4,000 hives worth approximately $1.2 million this spring, said investing in the research and paying for any treatment that is found would be well worth the expense. "The most expensive thing I have is a dead beehive," he said.

Specialty crop funds

Five Washington organizations, including the Washington Apple Commission, will receive federal assistance for their efforts to expand economic opportunities for farmers and develop more efficient farming practices, according to the Washington State Department of Agriculture.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s specialty crop block grants are designed to promote the profitability and improve the production of fruits, vegetables, and nursery crops.

The five groups are sharing $164,00 in funding. The Apple Commission will receive $26,500 to provide training in produce department layout and produce handling for six supermarket chains in China. The project involves designing a model product section and promoting Washington apples.
The Northwest Agriculture Business Center will receive $35,433 to test market a sparkling apple-berry juice and a packed loose-leaf tea developed by Skagit Valley Apple Growers Association and Sakuma Brothers.

Other recipients are the Hop Growers of America, the Organic Seed Alliance, and the Washington State Potato Commission.

Cornell plans teaching winery

Cornell University recently announced plans to build a teaching winery on the Ithaca campus this fall near Cornell Orchards, where the Orchards Store and pomology cold storage buildings are located.

More skilled experts than ever are needed to manage the growing number of vineyards and wineries in the region, said Dr. Thomas Burr, associate dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and director of the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva. The number of New York wineries has increased from 9 to 212 in the last three decades. Cornell now offers viticulture and enology options and is considering new undergraduate majors in viticulture and enology.