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January 22, 2015 - ABJ Extra

Another View on New Insecticide - Flupyradifurone

Still Concerning for Honey Bees

by Michele Colopy, Program Director, Pollinator Stewardship Council

The Pollinator Stewardship Council is gravely concerned another systemic insecticide with similar insecticidal activity to neonicotinoids has been registered for seed, soil, and foliar treatments across a variety of crops. This new insecticide is proposed for use before, during and after bloom, three to five times per season.

Our concerns are derived from EPA’s own analysis of this butenolide insecticide.   Flupyradifurone has greater persistence in the water column than sediment, thus exposing honey bees through the ingestion of water with a Flupyradifurone half-life of 330.1 days.  What is also concerning is the research submitted to EPA showed this systemic insecticide may not be acutely toxic upon the first exposure, but the second and third applications show effects upon honey bee mortality, behavior, brood development, and food storage.

The research concerning the residues of Flupyradifurone in nectar and pollen found different levels of the chemical in pollen and nectar, the level varied per plant, and if the plant had extra nectaries.  Pollen appeared to contain higher levels of Flupyradifurone, than nectar (3.5-106x), and the levels increased with the number of applications of Flupyradifurone.   Table 28 in EPA’s documentation further highlighted this concern as studies showed pollen in various crops showed an increase of Flupyradifurone at the second, and third applications during the same growing season.  Further, the concentration remained high for 1-7 days after the second and third applications (depending on the crop).

Studies of caged honey bees fed Flupyradifurone do not reflect the real world of honey bees.  Flupyradifurone will be utilized in a tank mix, and effects of Flupyradifurone, its degradates, mixed with herbicides, and fungicides is unknown.  The synergistic effects of these chemicals upon honey bees is unknown; yet that will be how honey bees will encounter this compound.  While a ten-day honey bee feeding study was conducted, what happened at day 16, 21, and 24—developmental stages of honey bees?  To state there were “no consistent adverse effects” except “some increases in mortality and decreases in foraging activity immediately following applications . . . and in some cases there was recovery from the effects on mortality by test termination,” does not inspire confidence in the use of this compound.  EPA questioned the “large variation in starting colony size” and the “low number of replicates per treatment group” which limit the ability to detect the effects of Flupyradifurone.  One study mixing Flupyradifurone with a tebuconazole formulation enhanced the toxicity of Flupyradifurone increasing the toxicity “116-fold and 6.1 fold via the contact and oral routes.”   Relying on the label guideline to protect against mixing Flupyradifurone with azole fungicides is unrealistic.

According to EPA registration review documents,  “Maximum residues in comb pollen, nectar, and wax varied, but generally occurred one week to several months after the second application indicating that residues were translocated within the hives to varying extents.”  Flupyradifurone appears to have pre-lethal effects which long term, replicated studies would reveal.  Even when the studies prescribed Flupyradifurone based on the body weight of the honey bee there was increased worker mortality, decreased flight activity, and brood numbers varied widely during the evaluation periods and after over-wintering.  In one study it showed the “mortality of the test group was 5 times greater than the control group during the 7-day period after 3rd (full bloom) application.”

While Flupyradifurone is “practically non-toxic to bees on an acute contact exposure basis,” “the greatest area of uncertainty surrounding the potential risk to bee pollinators is for foliar application at full bloom.”  “In addition, pollen, nectar, and wax residue data from one of the full field studies with Flupyradifurone (MRIDs 48844517) indicate that average residues did not reach their maxima until up to several months after the pesticide was applied.
 
The use of Flupyradifurone upon such a wide array of crops will translocate to pollinator forage areas developed through Federal and State initiatives.  Its mobility in water will affect honey bees, and other pollinators.  The repeated use of Flupyradifurone has shown to increase its toxicity with each application with a half-life of one application lasting 3-951 days in the plants, soil, and water.  The use of this compound will further exacerbate the concerns over the honey bees’ food supply: pollen, nectar, and water.
 
For more information about the EPA’s registration of this pesticide go to http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=EPA-HQ-OPP-2013-0226
 
For more information about the Pollinator Stewardship Council go to www.pollinatorstewardship.org

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January 21, 2015 - ABJ Extra

USDA Reminds Producers of Upcoming

Livestock (Honeybee) Disaster Assistance Deadline

WASHINGTON, Jan. 21, 2015 — The U.S. Department of Agriculture reminds livestock producers that the Jan. 30, 2015, deadline to request assistance for losses suffered from Oct. 1, 2011 through Dec. 31, 2014, is fast approaching.

Applications for the Livestock Indemnity Program and the Livestock Forage Disaster Program, restored by the 2014 Farm Bill resumed in April 2014, after having expired on Sept. 30, 2011. To date, more than 556,000 applications have been approved to assist farmers and ranchers in recovering from nearly three years of natural disasters.

The Livestock Indemnity Program provides financial assistance to eligible producers for livestock (Honeybee) deaths. Losses can be caused by adverse weather, extreme temperatures, disease, or wildfires, or due to attacks by animals reintroduced into the wild by the federal government or protected by federal law, including wolves and avian predators.

The Livestock Forage Disaster Program provides compensation to livestock producers that have suffered grazing losses due to drought or fire. Qualifying droughts are based on U.S Drought Monitor severity ratings, and qualifying fires are those occurring on rangeland managed by a federal agency and normally permitted for grazing.

To expedite applications, all producers who experienced losses are encouraged to collect records documenting their losses. Supporting documents may include livestock birth records, purchase and transportation receipts, photos and ownership records showing the number and type of livestock lost, documents listing the gallons of water transported to livestock during drought, information related to grazing land, grazing leases or federal grazing permits, and more.

Local FSA county offices can provide additional information on the types of records producers will need to apply for assistance. Producers are encouraged to contact their county office ahead of time to schedule an appointment. Producers who already have appointments don’t need to take any additional action to meet the deadline. FSA offices can be found at offices.usda.gov. To learn more about these FSA disaster programs, visit disaster.fsa.usda.gov

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January 21, 2015 - ABJ Extra

EPA Registers New Insecticide Alternative

to Neonicotinoids, Safer for Bees

The EPA is registering a new insecticide, flupyradifurone, that is safer for bees. It is expected to be an alternative to more toxic products including certain pyrethroid, neonicotinoid, organophosphate and avermectin insecticides.

As an insecticide, flupyradifurone is unusual in that laboratory-based studies indicate that the compound is practically non-toxic to adult honeybees. Studies show no adverse effect on overall bee colony performance or overwintering ability when compared to untreated colonies.

EPA’s decision meets the rigorous Food Quality Protection Act standard of "reasonable certainty of no harm" to human health. On the basis of protective and conservative human health and ecological risk assessments for the uses of the pesticide, EPA confirmed the safety of the use for the public, agricultural workers and wildlife.  EPA coordinated its evaluation with our counterparts in Canada and Australia.

This decision was one of the first to incorporate newly-required bee studies and involved evaluating the largest number of bee-related studies ever for the registration of a new chemical.  EPA reviewed 437 studies including 38 different tests on bees to analyze the potential exposure and effects of flupyradifurone.  These included evaluation of the sublethal effects of pesticides on all life stages of bees, as well as effects on colony health in field studies. The field studies examined pollinator-attractive crops while bees were actively foraging after the crops had been treated through various application methods (seed, soil and foliar) to demonstrate very high exposure.

Flupyradifurone is registered for a large number of crops such as citrus, cotton, potatoes and many others to protect against piercing and sucking insects such as aphids, whiteflies, thrips, and pysllids, all of which have become increasingly resistant to other pesticides and are difficult to control.  The registration of flupyradifurone will provide growers across the U.S. with a new pest resistance management tool that presents an effective countermeasure to resistance development.  No residential uses have been proposed.

More information on this regulatory action can be found at www.regulations.gov, Docket ID: EPA-HQ-OPP-2013-0226-0044.

To learn more about EPA’s actions to protect pollinators, visit our Pollinator Protection website.

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January 16, 2015 - ABJ Extra

Wild Pollinators at Risk from Diseased

Commercial Species of Bee

A new study from the University of Exeter has found that viruses carried by commercial bees can jump to wild pollinator populations with potentially devastating effects. The researchers are calling for new measures to be introduced that will prevent the introduction of diseased pollinators into natural environments.
Commercial species of honey bee and bumble bee are typically used to pollinate crops such as tomatoes, sweet peppers and oilseed rape. Fast evolving viruses carried by these managed populations have the potential to decimate wild pollinator species, including bees, hoverflies and butterflies, placing biodiversity and food security at risk.
The global value of insect pollinators has been estimated to be around €153 billion per annum. Commercial pollination services are provided predominantly by honeybees and bumblebees, but wild pollinators play an important role pollinating crops as well as native plants. Pollinators have suffered declines and extinctions in recent years as a result of habitat destruction, with pesticide use and infectious diseases playing a potentially increasing role.
Dr Lena Wilfert from Biosciences at the University of Exeter's Penryn Campus in Cornwall said: "Our study highlights the importance of preventing the release of diseased commercial pollinators into the wild. The diseases carried by commercial species affect a wide range of wild pollinators but their spread can be avoided by improved monitoring and management practices.
"Commercial honey bee keepers have a responsibility to protect ecologically and economically important wild pollinator communities from disease."
The researchers reviewed existing studies to determine the potential for disease emergence within wild pollinator communities based on known honey bee viruses.
The main culprit of disease-related losses from commercial honeybee colonies is the Varroa mite. This parasite helps spread viral diseases and may increase their virulence. One of these viruses - the Deformed Wing Virus - has recently been identified as an emerging disease in pollinators and its prevalence in commercial honeybees has been linked to its existence in wild bumblebees.
The social behaviour of honeybees, bumblebees and social wasps, provides perfect conditions for disease transmission both within the colony and between different species.
The risk of disease transmission can be further increased through poor management of commercial species including international transportation of bees without appropriate checks, intensive breeding, poor pathogen screening, and the release of commercial bees into the environment to interact freely with wild pollinators.Future work will investigate which commercial species is driving disease transmission. The researchers will also monitor the effectiveness of existing conservation schemes to determine their success in protecting wild pollinator populations.

The study was funded by the Royal Society and the Natural Environment Research Council and was published in the Journal of Applied Ecology.