Minnesota Bee Registry Deadline April 15ST. PAUL - Mar 19/04 - SNS -- Beekeepers in the state of Minnesota have until April 15 to register their colonies, the agriculture department (MDA) says.All beekeepers -- including hobbyists and anyone who owns, leases, or possesses colonies of bees -- are required to submit their annual registration forms along with the $10 registration fee by April 15.The information is used by state apiary inspectors to locate colonies for pest and disease inspections and to help aerial applicators locate and avoid colonies when spraying pesticides. Last year, the state registered 458 beekeepers and 120,739 bee colonies.As part of the registry process, apiary inspectors provide free inspections of registered bee colonies for pests and diseases and help with treatment recommendations.In 2003 the MDA apiary program inspected 56 apiaries, containing 10,428 colonies. The program certified 42,000 colonies for export, issued import permits for 83,500 colonies and detected American Foulbrood, an emerging bee disease, in 19 colonies.Changes to the program for 2004 include increasing the number of apiary inspections conducted statewide and implementation of a new program to check for Africanized honey bees and other pests and diseases in bee colonies returning from other states. Other projects include the production of maps showing counties with bee pests or diseases, and producing an annual report containing a seasonal hive statistics update.In addition, the MDA recently formed an ad hoc apiary advisory committee to facilitate communication and exchange information about current honey production issues. The committee will update beekeepers on MDA program updates, work on emergency pesticide registration exemptions and discuss pesticide exposure and misuse complaints. The committee membership includes beekeepers from around the state.The MDA says Minnesota is the nation's fifth leading state for honey production, producing about 8.5 million pounds of honey valued at more than $12 million annually. "The impact of honeybees goes beyond the honey itself," MDA said,. "Nationwide, it is estimated that honeybees are the primary pollinators for about one third of the nations' food supply."