This page will have new information added frequently on top of what’s already there. It will be archived from time to time so check out the archive page periodically. If you have any interesting apiary pictures from your bee yard or any other bee related pic/information that you would like to share, please send them in JPEG and I will review them for posting on this page.
An old hive house
Note: The first article below reminds us to check any seed we purchase.
Growers Reminded of
Best-Management Practices When
Planting Treated Seed
New “BeSure!” campaign from Growing Matters offers farmers, applicators a range of free tips and reminders this planting season to protect crops, pollinators and other wildlife
WASHINGTON (April 15, 2019) – An agricultural industry collaboration led by Growing Matters, a coalition committed to neonicotinoid product stewardship, today launched “BeSure!” – a stewardship-awareness campaign to promote best-management practices to farmers and applicators who use neonic products.
Powered by Growing Mattersalong with the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) and the National Pesticide Safety Education Center (NPSEC), BeSure! is designed to strengthen awareness of stewardship practices to protect bees and other wildlife during the handling, planting and disposal of treated seeds, and from other neonic applications used throughout the growing season.
As farmers and applicators take to the field for planting, they’re reminded to do the following:
- Be sure to always read and follow the label when using treated seed
- Be sure to use the right amount of an appropriate seed lubricant to minimize dust
- Be sure to clean planters in non-sensitive areas and clean or cover up any seed spills
- Go to GrowingMatters.org for a wealth of free tips and reminders
“Seed treatments provide farmers with an economical means of protecting seeds and seedlings against early-season insect pests and diseases – resulting in stronger and more uniform stands, healthier plants and higher crop yields,” says Jane DeMarchi, Vice President of Government and Regulatory Affairs for ASTA. “Farmers understand the importance of reducing risks to bees and birds by using these products safely and responsibly. Through efforts like the Guide to Seed Treatment Stewardship and ‘BeSure!’, the seed industry is committed to reinforcing product stewardship by providing useful guidelines for managing treated seeds to minimize potential off-target exposures to wildlife.”
The first phase of the campaign uses traditional, social and digital media to target Midwest farmers and emphasize effective stewardship practices when using neonic products. Farmers will be directed to GrowingMatters.org, an interactive website with up-to-date stewardship tips and information. The BeSure! site also integrates ASTA’s Guide to Seed Treatment Stewardship, which includes videos and brochures to show how treated seeds can be used to avoid harmful exposures to bees and other wildlife. Additional links will explain how other neonic applications should be used responsibly, including the comprehensive Insect Pollinators and Pesticide Product Stewardshipguide.
“Reading and following the label on any product containing a pesticide is critical to safeguard growers and applicators, as well as pollinators and other wildlife,” says Tom Smith, executive director of NPSEC. “The BeSure! campaign with its focus on pollinator stewardship will provide growers and applicators additional information and resources to help protect pollinators during agricultural operations.”
Honey Bee Health Coalition
Members Release Corn, Canola
Guides for Bee Protection
National Corn Growers Association, U.S. Canola Association partner
with Coalition to develop best practices growers can use
to reduce risk to honey bees, other pollinators
Two Honey Bee Health Coalition member organizations — the National Corn Growers Association and the U.S. Canola Association — recently unveiled best management practices for growers to help protect bees in and around cornand canolafields.
At roughly 80 million acres, field corn covers more land than any other crop in the country, and in the Midwest Corn Belt it often makes up 40 percent of the landscape or more. The corn best management practices (BMPs), facilitated by the Coalition, identify potential impacts of agricultural practices on bees at each stage of production and recommend ways to mitigate those impacts, such as specific strategies for reducing dust and drift while planting pesticide-treated seed.
“While corn does not rely on honey bees for pollination, bees depend on neighboring plants for forage,” said Nathan Fields, National Corn Growers Association vice president of market development. “As good stewards of the land, corn growers can follow these BMPs to help protect honey bee health, ensuring productive agricultural systems for all.”
Canola is another important crop for pollinator protection because canola flowers are very attractive to bees. And for growers, the stewardship recommendations in the Coalition-facilitated canola BMPsare even more of a win-win.
“Canola is an excellent source of nutrition for bees, which are essential for hybrid canola production,” said Rob Rynning, U.S. Canola Association president. “These beneficial pollinators also increase seed germination and encourage higher canola yields with better ripening.”
Corn growers who rotate with soybeans could also see added benefits from their pollinator stewardship because bees can increase soybean yields by up to 18 percent, according to a 2005 study.
Both the cornand canolaguides feature season-long BMPs for growers and beekeepers and a summary of key practices. These include:
- communicating about hive locations, crop management practices, and any related concerns and coordinating with beekeepers
- checking extension recommendations, considering multiple strategies for pest control, and verifying in-field needs before applying pesticides
- planting and preserving flowering plants in non-crop areas
“Many growers don’t realize that how they spray, and what time of day especially, can hurt bees,” said Chris Hiatt, vice president of the American Honey Producers Association and a member of the Coalition’s Steering Committee. “These BMPs will promote better communication between beekeepers and growers, reduce pesticide exposure, and improve bee health in the spring and summer, a crucial time for beekeepers recovering from significant winter colony losses.”
Each set of best practices, available onlinefor free download, was developed by an expert team of agronomists, entomologists, beekeepers, and extension and regulatory agents and reviewed by growers, crop consultants, agribusiness representatives, retail suppliers, conservation NGOs, and other stakeholders.
Both crop associations announced the new BMPs at the 2019 Commodity Classic tradeshow in Orlando, Florida, on Friday, March 1. This made corn and canola the latest crops to develop BMPs for pollinator protection with the help of the Coalition. The United Soybean Board released its soybean BMPsin 2018, and the Coalition is now pursuing opportunities with other crop and landscape associations.
About the Honey Bee Health Coalition
The Honey Bee Health Coalition brings together beekeepers, growers, researchers, government agencies, agribusinesses, conservation groups, manufacturers, brands and other key partners to improve the health of honey bees and other pollinators. Its mission is to collaboratively implement solutions that help achieve a healthy population of honey bees while also supporting populations of native and managed pollinators in the context of productive agricultural systems and thriving ecosystems. The Coalition focuses on accelerating the collective impact of efforts in four key areas: forage and nutrition; hive management; crop pest management; and communications, outreach and education.
The Honey Bee Health Coalition is a project of the Keystone Policy Center, a nationally recognized nonprofit that brings together diverse stakeholders to find collaborative, actionable solutions to public policy challenges.
Weak Honey Bee Colonies May Fail From Cold Exposure During Shipping
By Kim Kaplan
FARGO, NORTH DAKOTA, April 18, 2019—Cold temperatures inside honey bee colonies may cause colony losses during and after long-distance hauling, according to a preliminary studyby Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists.
Every year almost 2 million honey bee colonies—nearly two-thirds of the managed colonies in the United States—are loaded aboard semi-trailers and shipped across the country multiple times to pollinate crops like California almonds.
But within days of arrival, some of these colonies will have few if any honey bees left to visit almond flowers, to provide essential pollination services to California’s 1.3 million acres of almond orchards.
“We found that less robust colonies—those that have fewer than 10 frames of honey bees and larvae when loaded onto trucks—cannot maintain the temperature inside the hive and are subjected to cold stress,” said Dacotah Melicher, a post-doctoral researcher with the ARS Bioscience Research Laboratory in Fargo, North Dakota.
Smaller colonies are more likely to fail and fail faster, and many lose almost all of their bees within days of arrival. Robust colonies with 10 or more frames were able to maintain stable temperatures and populations.
Honey bee transporters often worry about colonies overheating during shipping, which can cause a colony to die very quickly. However, chilling can be as damaging but less obviously. If brood—bee larvae—are chilled, it can result in developmental abnormalities when they emerge as adult bees. This could be the cause of smaller colonies failing within a few weeks of being shipped.
Colonies with fewer than 10 frames just may not have the numbers to allow the colony to thermo-regulate well enough to prevent chilling.
When honey bee boxes are loaded onto semi-trailers, they are oriented with the hive box openings inward toward a central aisle or outward toward the highway. The aisle helps prevent overheating, but may cause air turbulence that can affect hive temperature if the outside air temperature is low.
Internal colony temperatures also varied significantly depending on where they were located on the trailer. Colonies near the front and the back of the trailer and the colonies facing the central aisle showed the greatest loss of temperature, but more hives need to be monitored to see if location matters.
In addition to measuring colony temperatures, the scientists also profiled genetically mediated responses—known as gene expression—at departure, on arrival and after a recovery period of three weeks to identify honey bees’ internal reactions to the stress of being trucked.
What the researchers found was that, after the recovery period, the activity of genes that support more disease resistance and those that respond to cold stress as well as genes that guide aggressiveness all had decreased significantly as the hive rebounded from being transported. At the same time though, the bees’ genes involved in producing antibiotic peptides had increased activity, possibly as a way for the bees to prepare to fight off new potential bacterial infections to which the stressed hive may be more vulnerable.
“Before we can really pinpoint the greatest stresses, we need to measure honey bee responses to other factors that occur during long-distance trucking such as vibration, air pressure, diesel exhaust, and the stress of confining the honey bees within the boxes during transport. It’s likely that some factors are causing more stress than we expect, but there might be inexpensive solutions that could help beekeepers save hives,” explained Melicher.
The Agricultural Research Service is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s chief scientific in-house research agency. Daily, ARS focuses on solutions to agricultural problems affecting America. Each dollar invested in agricultural research results in $20 of economic impact.
Premium New Zealand Honey Producer Admits Adding Chemicals: Media
by Lidia Kelly
MELBOURNE (Reuters) – A New Zealand company pleaded guilty on Thursday to charges of adding artificial chemicals to its premium manuka honey, media reported, in a flagship prosecution over a product that is high-value export for the country.
New Zealand Food Safety filed the case against Auckland-based Evergreen Life Ltd whose products were pulled from shelves in 2016 by the Ministry for Primary Industries, which said they might contain “non-approved substances”.
Demand for honey, which is believed to have health and cosmetics benefits, has been growing globally, especially for manuka honey, collected from the flowers of plants native to New Zealand and Australia.
Different species of the plant grow in other parts of the world but they do not produce the flowers needed for the honey, making manuka more expensive, with a small jar selling for up to a few hundred dollars.
Manuka is also considered to have better antibacterial properties than other honey, partly because it naturally contains an omega acid called DHA and an antacid known as MGO.
Evergreen had been allegedly adding synthetic chemicals to increase the levels of the anti-bacterial agents, allowing the company to sell the honey at a higher price, according to the public-service Radio New Zealand.
Neither Evergreen nor the Ministry for Primary Industries answered requests for comment.
New Zealand ranks 14th in the world for volume of honey exported and second in terms of value, according to data from New Zealand’s Trade and Enterprise government agency.
In 2017, New Zealand exported nearly $270 million worth of honey, nearly double what it was in 2013. Manuka honey is considered behind most of the exports.
Sentencing in the Evergreen case is scheduled for later this month.
EPA Holds Public Meeting on Revisions to Draft Framework on Endangered Species Act Process for Pesticides
Revisions respond to 2018 Farm Bill requirements to streamline and
improve the process the agency follows to review the impacts
pesticides have on endangered species
WASHINGTON— Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is seeking comment on draft revisions to the framework used to evaluate the impacts pesticides have on endangered species under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act. The draft revisions would ensure this process is efficient, protective, transparent, and based on the best available science.
“EPA’s draft framework allows the agency to consider real-world data that will better reflect where pesticides are actually used, and which species could be affected and those that are not likely to be affected,” said EPA Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention Assistant Administrator Alexandra Dapolito Dunn. “Making these revisions to the framework will follow through on EPA’s commitments under the 2018 Farm Bill and will help EPA target environmental protections where they are needed, and ensure that pesticides can continue to be used safely without impacting endangered species.”
The June 10 public meeting will be part of the federal government’s coordinated effort to improve the Endangered Species Act (ESA) process that is used when pesticides are federally registered. New provisions in the 2018 Farm Bill call for the establishment of an interagency working group to provide recommendations and implement a strategy to improve the pesticide registration process. Input from the public meeting and the public comment period on the draft revised method will be used by the working group to make these improvements.
As part of the EPA’s efforts to engage with stakeholders on this important issue, the agency will host a public meeting on June 10, 2019, at its Potomac Yard South Building in Arlington, Virginia. The public meeting will be held from 9 a.m. to Noon EDT in the lobby-level conference center.
Those wishing to attend either in person or via teleconference/webinar must register by Thursday, May 30, 2019. To register: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/us-epa-public-meeting-on-revised-method-for-esa-pesticide-assessments-registration-61651229487
Upon publication in the Federal Register, the EPA will accept public comments for 45 days in docket EPA-HQ-OPP-2019-0185 on the draft revised method on www.regulations.gov. The draft revised method and a summary of the major draft changes will be found in the docket.
The draft revised method can also be found here: https://www.epa.gov/endangered-species/draft-revised-method-national-level-endangered-species-risk-assessment-process.
Under the ESA, federal agencies are required to determine whether their actions may affect endangered and threatened species and their designated critical habitat. More information: https://www.epa.gov/endangered-species