EPA is Advancing Pollinator Science and Sharing Useful Information with Growers and Beekeepers
On June 20, 2014, President Obama issued a directive to federal agencies to create a federal strategy to promote honey bee and other pollinator health. The President’s directive created a Pollinator Health Task Force, co-chaired by EPA and USDA, and charged federal agencies with expanding federal efforts and taking new steps to reverse pollinator losses. Scientists believe that honey bee losses are likely caused by multiple stressors, including poor bee nutrition, loss of forage lands, parasites, pathogens, and pesticides. EPA will address the role of pesticides and take action, as appropriate, to protect pollinators.
Two important tools are being released today as part of EPA’s ongoing actions to protect pollinators. These and other EPA pollinator protection efforts complement those of the USDA, the lead federal agency tasked with identifying and mitigating the causes of U.S. honey bee decline.
EPA’s New Pollinator Risk Assessment Guidance: EPA has posted its new Pollinator Risk Assessment Guidance online. The guidance is part of a long-term strategy to advance the science of assessing the risks posed by pesticides to bees, giving risk managers the means to further improve pollinator protection in our regulatory decisions. Among other things, EPA anticipates the guidance will allow the agency to assess effects from systemic pesticides quantitatively on individual bees, as well as on bee colonies. The guidance, developed in cooperation with the California Department of Pesticide Regulation and Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory agency, builds upon our ongoing efforts to advance the science of pollinator risk assessment.
We are already implementing elements of the guidance in our ongoing registration review of neonicotinoid pesticides, as well as in our other pesticide regulatory work. The agency is currently reviewing new data we required of the registrants, including refined semi-field studies under more real-world application conditions. Other data from ongoing full-field studies will take up to several years to complete.
RT25 Data Now Online: At the request of beekeepers and growers alike, the agency has also posted our Residual Time to 25% Bee Mortality (RT25) Data online. Bees may be susceptible to harm from direct exposure to pesticides sprayed on flowering plants, but pesticide residues generally decrease in toxicity as the spray dries and time passes. Farmers and beekeepers can use EPA’s RT25 data to gauge the amount of time after application that a particular pesticide product remains toxic enough under real-world conditions to kill 25 percent of bees that are exposed to residues on treated plant surfaces. Some have used this information to select pesticide products with shorter periods in which the chemicals remain active and can affect bees.
USDA Provides $8 Million to Help Boost Declining Honey Bee Population
Five Midwest States Receive Additional Incentives to Establish Honey Bee Habitats
WASHINGTON, June 20, 2014 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), today announced $8 million in Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) incentives for Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin farmers and ranchers who establish new habitats for declining honey bee populations. More than half of the commercially managed honey bees are in these five states during the summer. Today’s announcement comes in addition to $3 million USDA designated to the Midwest states to support bee populations earlier this year through the Natural Resources Conservation Service Environmental Quality Incentives Program.
“American agricultural production relies on having a healthy honey bee population,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “In recent years, factors such as diseases, parasites, pesticides or habitat loss have contributed to a significant decline in the honey bee population. This $8 million is part of the Administration’s ongoing strategy to reverse these trends and establish more plant habitat on Conservation Reserve Program lands to restore the bee population.”
The new CRP pollinator initiative is designed to further enhance current CRP land, allowing it to provide better access to nutritious pollinator forage. The program allows for managing or replacing existing vegetation, known as ‘covers’, with lower cost, high nutrition seed mixes that can support distinct blooming cycles of plants that benefit pollinators. Honey bees, the pollinator workhorse of U.S. fruit and vegetable agriculture, will have more blooms from which to collect nectar and pollen to sustain and promote colony growth and honey production throughout the growing season. By assisting honey bees, the pollinator initiative helps USDA continue to secure the food supply. More than $15 billion worth of agricultural production, including over 130 fruits and vegetables, depend on the health and well-being of honey bees.
Now is a critical time for efforts to support honey bee populations. The honey bee population in the United States has been declining for decades. The number of managed U.S. honey bee colonies dropped from 6 million in 1947, to just 2.5 million today.
This week, President Obama issued a memorandum directing U.S. government agencies to take additional steps to protect and restore domestic populations of pollinators, including honey bees. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy will co-chair a new Pollinator Health Task Force to focus federal efforts to conduct research and take action to help pollinators recover from population losses. This includes a public education campaign to teach people ways that they can help pollinators in their own homes or businesses.
USDA is already actively pursuing solutions to the multiple problems affecting honey bee health. The Agricultural Research Service (ARS) maintains four laboratories across the country conducting research into all aspects of bee genetics, breeding, biology and physiology, with special focus on bee nutrition, control of pathogens and parasites, the effects of pesticide exposure and the interactions between each of these factors. The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) supports bee research efforts through grants and research to Land Grant Universities. The Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) conducts national honey bee pest and disease surveys and provides border inspections to prevent new invasive bee pests from entering the U.S. The Farm Service Agency (FSA) and NRCS work on improved forage and habitat for bees through programs such as the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and EQIP. Additionally, the Economic Research Service (ERS) is currently examining the direct economic costs of the pollinator problem and the associated indirect economic impacts, and the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) conducts limited surveys of honey production, number of colonies, price, and value of production which provide some data essential for research by the other agencies.
The CRP pollinator initiative, administered by the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA), takes advantage of the new pollinator seed mixes developed by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. FSA also recently announced the restart of continuous enrollments in CRP, including its Pollinator Habitat Initiative to enroll 100,000 acres of longer lasting meadows of high-quality native wildflowers that support honey bees, pollinators and other wildlife populations.
For more information about new the pollinator initiative in the five Midwestern states, the continuous enrollment in the Conservation Reserve Program, and the pollinator habitat initiative, agricultural producers are encouraged to contact their local FSA office or go online at www.fsa.usda.gov.
New Coalition Brings Together Diverse Stakeholders to Improve Honey Bee Health
KEYSTONE, CO, June 18, 2014 – At the Saint Louis Zoo’s Annual Pollinator Dinner last night, The Keystone Center announced the formation of a new Honey Bee Health Coalition. Recognizing that declines in honey bee and pollinator health have put agriculture, healthy ecosystems, and worldwide food security at risk, this diverse coalition was formed to promote collaborative solutions.
Ed Spevak of the Saint Louis Zoo’s WildCare Institute Center for Native Pollinator Conservation and the Zoo’s Curator of Invertebrates introduced the Honey Bee Health Coalition, noting that it brings together beekeepers, growers, researchers, government agencies, agribusinesses, conservation groups, manufacturers and consumer brands, and other key partners in the U.S. and Canada to improve the health of honey bees and other pollinators, ecosystems, and the security of our food supply. Approximately 80% of flowering plants rely on the honey bee and other native and managed pollinators; these plants include crops like almonds, apples, blueberries, cherries, cranberries, squashes, tomatoes, and alfalfa among many others.
“We helped found this Coalition because honey bees support approximately $18 billion of United States food production annually,” said Randy Verhoek, president of the American Honey Producers Association. “In the United States, approximately 30% of managed honey bees now die each winter,” he continued, “compared to around 15% that beekeepers consider acceptable. This makes it increasingly difficult for beekeepers to stay in business, hurting not only the beekeepers and their families but also the farmers and agricultural communities that rely on those bees to pollinate crops.”
“If we do not act collaboratively to find solutions that work for all involved, honey bee health, the ability to produce fruits, nuts and vegetables, and the ability to sustain ecosystems and the economy will all be impacted,” said Jerry Hayes, Honey Bee Health Lead for Monsanto. “A healthy bee population is imperative for our industry and for our supply chain, and we need collaboration across stakeholders. This coalition is a great step in this direction.”
“The Coalition has already made important progress in identifying critical areas for collaboration, including bee forage and nutrition, crop pest management, hive management, and outreach, education and communications,” said Richard Joost, Director of Research for the United Soybean Board. “The Coalition will address these critical areas by building consensus on key strategies, creating a platform for collaboration, and funding partnerships, pilots, and programs.”
The idea for the Coalition first took shape as part of a Clinton Global Initiative Commitment in 2013. In a very short period of time the coalition members have turned that idea into a reality.
Coalition members currently include the Agricultural Retailers Association, the Almond Board of California, the American Beekeeping Federation, the American Honey Producers Association, the American Seed Trade Association, Bayer CropScience, Browning Honey Company, the Canadian Honey Council, CropLife America, CropLife Canada, Ducks Unlimited, DuPont, Eastern Missouri Beekeepers Association, Land O’Lakes, Inc., Monsanto Company, the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, Pheasants Forever, Project Apis m., the Saint Louis Zoo’s WildCare Institute Center for Native Pollinator Conservation, Syngenta, Unilever, United Soybean Board, the University of Maryland’s Department of Entomology, and the U.S. Canola Association. The Coalition also includes ex officio participation from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Funding has been provided by the Agricultural Retailers Association, the American Honey Producers Association, Bayer CropScience, CropLife America, DuPont, Eastern Missouri Beekeepers Association, Land O’Lakes, Inc., Monsanto, Syngenta, Unilever, and the United Soybean Board.
About the Honey Bee Health Coalition
The Honey Bee Health Coalition brings together beekeepers, growers, researchers, government agencies, agribusinesses, conservation groups, manufacturers and brands, and other key partners to improve the health of honey bees and other pollinators. Our mission is to collaboratively implement solutions that will help to achieve a healthy population of honey bees while also supporting healthy populations of native and managed pollinators in the context of productive agricultural systems and thriving ecosystems. The Coalition is focusing on accelerating collective impact to improve honey bee health in four key areas: forage and nutrition, hive management, crop pest management, and communications, outreach and education.
Through its unique network of private and public sector members, the ...
PROCEEDINGS OF THE AMERICAN BEE RESEARCH CONFERENCE NOW AVAILABLE!
The 2012 American Bee Research Conference was held February 7-8 at APHIS Headquarters in Greenbelt, MD in conjunction with the annual meeting of the Apiary Inspectors of America. The twenty-sixth American Bee Research Conference will be held in Hershey, PA in conjunction with the annual meeting of the American Honey Producers Association in January 2013. To access these abstracts now, click on the link below. These abstracts represent some of the latest bee research being conducted in the United States. Enjoy!