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Correction to April 2013 news item: "A Class Action Lawsuit Has Been Filed on Behalf of US Beekeepers”
The original version of the article entitled "A Class Action Lawsuit Has Been Filed on Behalf of US Beekeepers,” which was first published on the AHPA website on or about April 24, 2013, included the statement that "[t]he U.S. Government brought criminal charges against Groeb Farms, Inc. and Honey Holding for illegal honey smuggling of Chinese honey, etc. for which they agreed to federal fines totaling $3 million.” That statement was in error. We regret this error. Honey Holding was not criminally charged with illegal smuggling of Chinese honey. An agent of Honey Holding, however, did plead guilty to two counts of violating Title 18 of the United States Code, Sections 2 and 545.
Renée Ricciardi: Capturing Italy’s beekeeping community
Posted by: Briana Palma in Artisticamente
Last August, Renée Ricciardi bought a one-way ticket to Italy, packed a suitcase and her camera gear, and traveled across the Atlantic with one goal in mind: photographing bees.
For most people, it would be an odd reason to visit Italy, but for Ricciardi, it fit perfectly. The project united her photography studies – she graduated from Massachusetts College of Art just a few months prior – with her beekeeping hobby and love for Italy.
The idea to undertake such work came together organically over the period of a couple years. In 2011, just as Ricciardi started beekeeping in her spare time, she learned about Italy’s groundbreaking law banning Neonicotinoid pesticides, which are believed to cause the sudden death of worker bees, known as Colony Collapse Disorder. Then, two years later, Ricciardi spent a couple weeks in Venice as part of a college course and left filled with the determination to return to Italy. Shortly after, when she won the Morton Godine Travel Fellowship, it was a done deal.
So, for three months, Ricciardi traveled across Italy, meeting beekeepers and photographing bees. Her adventure started in Agrigento, where a MassArt faculty member introduced her to friends who are apiarists.
"They were the most welcoming, hospitable people I’ve ever met,” she recalls. "They just welcomed me into their lives and I felt like I was really part of their family. They let me photograph their bees but then I also spent the rest of the afternoon with them, photographing the family. It was incredible.”
The hospitality and kindness of the people were a big part of Ricciardi’s experience, as she was welcomed into the homes of beekeepers around Italy, from Sicily to Piedmont and just about everywhere in between. She usually stayed about five days before moving on to her next destination, often selected with some help from current and past hosts.
"Everyone is so connected,” she tells me. "It was like I was part of this underground world of beekeeping. Everyone was saying, ‘I have a friend of a friend who lives here’ or ‘Go over here, I have a friend there.’”
While finding places to visit was easy, Ricciardi admits that taking — or ‘making,’ as she says, suggesting the artistic element of her work — photographs of bees had its challenges. After all, she had to wear a bee suit, including heavy gloves and a mask, while trying to handle her camera and capture beautiful images. Ricciardi worked very slowly, carefully setting up her shots.
"Each one is crafted and thought about, and also narrated in a way,” she says, adding that she was acting more as an artist than a documentarian throughout the project. "With a documentary you need to be constantly telling the truth or photographing things as they happen, which was not the case for me. I set a lot of things up and I created my own narrative, so to speak, and I felt like I was an artist doing those things.”
Ricciardi’s artistry comes through in her photographs, with strikingly detailed images of honeycombs, shots of beekeeping gear lying on the ground and emotive portraits of beekeepers. Through all of these images, she is not actively trying to create a debate about the use of pesticides, but instead is trying to explore the relationship between man and nature while also showing "a golden age of beekeeping,” as she puts it.
Ricciardi also hopes the public views bees differently after seeing her work, which was on display at the Warner Babcock Institute for Green Chemistry from January 30 to March 31. "People are afraid of them and people are disgusted by them, but the truth is that they pollinate about one-third of the food we eat, so they’re a staple of our agricultural system,” she says, emphatically. "One out of every three bites we eat comes from bees, so I think they do deserve some respect and some thought.”
Check out Ricciardi’s Kickstarter campaign: Bees in Italy Part 2
Still, Ricciardi is not done with "Bees in Italy” just yet, as she is hoping to continue the project this spring. She explains that, given the seasonality of beekeeping, she feels the need to capture more than just a three-month period to do it justice. And, like before, she has many people in Italy waiting for her with open arms, ready to welcome her once more into both their homes and the country’s tight-knit beekeeping community.
AHPA note: You may also contact Renee about her Kickstarter project at : http://reneericciardi.com/press/
17 billion honey bees injured, killed, threatening apple, berry, veggie crops
BY: Paul Bedard April 4, 2014
Commercial beekeepers who flood California's almond orchards with nearly 2 million hives every March have lost 25 percent of their colonies to chemical sprays and they are blaming loose regulations for the injury and deaths of an estimated 17 billion bees.
The crisis, which robbed the beekeepers of at least $106 million, is expected to slam subsequent crops that need honeybee pollination from the commercial beekeepers including much of the nation’s fruits and vegetables such as apples, blueberries and squash.
"The enormity of this massacre is mind-numbing, and it will be felt all season long all across the U.S.,” said Kim Flottum, editor of Bee Culture Magazine, the industry journal.
He told Secrets that the beekeepers are threatening to stop trucking their bees to orchards and vegetable fields, or charge a big "pesticide surcharge” to cover losses. He revealed the kill-off in his "Catch the Buzz" column.
"That beekeepers are no longer willing to make these sacrifices – no matter the fees charged or prices paid – is not only not a surprise, but should be reason enough for EPA and almond growers to pay attention to not what the chemical labels say, but what common sense dictates. DON’T SPRAY BEES WITH ANYTHING, EVER!” Flottum emailed Secrets.
Beekeepers have been urging the EPA to tighten restrictions on pesticides. They prefer spraying at night when bees are back in the hives, or no spraying at all.
The EPA has focused on the issue and believes the labels on approved chemicals are adequate. It has also moved to improve labels on pesticides to save bees and encouraged farmers to limit sprays so they don't spread in the wind. What's more, they can't police how farmers handle pesticides.
The Department of Agriculture is also spending $3 million to improve pastures in the midwest used by bees. Overall, bees are responsible for pollinating $15 billion worth of produce each year.
In the California case, the farmers claim they followed the approved chemical labeling and still the bees were hurt or killed.
According to the Pollinator Stewardship Council, a bee advocate group, the spray used in the almond fields resulted in "dead adult bees, and dead, dying, and deformed brood." A poll of 75 beekeepers found that 80,000 of their colonies were damaged, 75 percent of them severely.
Overall, said the council, about 1.7 million hives supplied by 1,300 commercial beekeepers were used to pollinate the almonds. Some 25 percent or up to 425,000 colonies, were severely damaged or killed. Each hive has some 40,000 or more bees.
The colony deaths were so large for some beekeepers that they don’t plan to return to the almond fields next year.
"What happens in almonds doesn’t stay in almonds,” said Flottum.
He added that the loss of bees involved in pollinating also hurt the practice of using hives expanded during their stay in almond orchards to make new hives and sell to big and hobby beekeepers, likely resulting in a bee shortage this summer.
Draft Guidance for Industry:
Proper Labeling of Honey and Honey Products
This draft guidance, when finalized, will represent the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) current thinking on this topic. It does not create or confer any rights for or on any person and does not operate to bind FDA or the public. You can use an alternative approach if the approach satisfies the requirements of the applicable statutes and regulations. If you want to discuss an alternative approach, contact the FDA staff responsible for implementing this guidance. If you cannot identify the appropriate FDA staff, call the telephone number listed on the title page of this guidance.
Contains Nonbinding Recommendations
Draft–Not for Implementation
Also available in PDF (63KB).
Additional copies are available from:
Food Labeling and Standards Staff (HFS-820)
Office of Nutrition, Labeling, and Dietary Supplements
Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition
Food and Drug Administration
5100 Paint Branch Parkway
College Park, MD 20740
This guidance is being distributed for comment purposes only.
Although you can comment on any guidance at any time (see 21 CFR 10.115(g)(5)), to ensure that the agency considers your comment on this draft guidance before it begins work on the final version of the guidance, submit written or electronic comments on the draft guidance within 60 days of publication in the Federal Register of the notice announcing the availability of the draft guidance. Submit written comments to the Division of Dockets Management (HFA-305), Food and Drug Administration, 5630 Fishers Lane, rm. 1061, Rockville, MD 20852. Submit electronic comments to http://www.regulations.gov. All comments should be identified with the docket number listed in the notice of availability that publishes in the Federal Register.
For questions regarding this draft document contact the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) at 240-402-2371.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Food and Drug Administration
Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition
To read the entire draft: http://www.fda.gov/food/guidanceregulation/guidancedocumentsregulatoryinformation/labelingnutrition/ucm389501.htm
80,000+ beehives damaged or dead; Congressional Briefing; Bumble bees, and more
Apr 03, 2014 | Michele Colopy
80,000+ beehives damaged or dead;
Beekeepers Meet With EPA
The last two weeks the Pollinator Stewardship Council has received reports of bee kills at the end of the almond bloom. A meeting with EPA was held by Pollinator Stewardship Council, American Honey Producers Association, and the American Beekeeping Federation, Monday, March 24 in Los Banos, California to discuss the pollinator losses during almond pollination. More than seventy beekeepers attended in person and on a conference call.
Bees were released from almond pollination, and beekeepers began to see the effects of a tank mix that caused dead adult bees, and dead, dying, and deformed brood. A poll taken of the seventy-five beekeepers at the meeting showed 80,000 colonies damaged: 75% of them severely damaged. Additional reports place an average loss of 60% of hives in almonds were impacted. Of that 60%, 40% lost adult bees and had dying brood, 20% of the hives were dead completely. These losses were experienced by beekeepers who wintered in California, as well as those who brought their bees into almonds from southern states.
The meeting addressed the bee kills in almonds, and the new label language for foliar applications of clothianidin, dinotefuran, imidacloprid, thiamethoxam, and the two new products tolfenpyrad and cyantraniliprole. The majority of the meeting addressed the damages beekeepers suffered from a tank mix that included an insect growth regulator (IGR) and a fungicide. The tank mix was applied "per the label.” However, the IGR has decimated the ability of beekeepers to make splits for the next crop pollination, to breed queens, or to make packages of bees. Many beekeepers expressed grave concern that the tank mix was applied in one area, but honey bees from other orchards, under another grower’s pollination contract received damaged due to drift, and foraging range. Some of the bee damage was not evident until truckloads of bees returned to their southern homes. The effects of fungicides and IGRs were delayed just enough beekeepers did not realize the impact until their hives were released from pollinating almonds. Research has shown fungicides are detrimental to pollinators. (Fungicides can reduce, hinder pollination potential of honey bees http://westernfarmpress.com/fungicides-can-reduce-hinder-pollination-potential-honey-bees)
Research and experience has shown night applications of pesticides in almonds causes less damage to pollinators. Beekeepers at the Los Banos meeting stated they have been experiencing damage to their bees in almonds for six years. The damages decreased when growers applied products at night, or did not apply any products during the bloom; but this year some practices changed, and bees were heavily impacted. The impact was so great a few beekeepers said they would not return to almonds, as they cannot take these losses to their bees and their business.
The bee kills in almonds at the end of this season were due to products used "per the label.” The fungicides, the IGRs were all used per the label. The tank mixing of products were all used per the label. Directions on pesticide labels generally state the herbicide, fungicide, insecticide "is physically and biologically compatible with many registered pesticides, fertilizers or micronutrients . . . If you have no experience with the combination you are considering, you should conduct a test to determine physical compatibility. To determine physical compatibility, add the recommended proportions of each chemical with the same proportion of water as will be present in the chemical supply tank into a suitable container, mix thoroughly, and allow to stand for five minutes. If the combination remains mixed, or can be readily re-mixed, the mixture is considered physically compatible.” One beekeeper described tank mixing this way, "The pesticide label basically instructs you to take a quart jar and mix the products you want to use into the jar. If it does not ‘blow-up’ go ahead and mix the full chemicals and apply to the crop.” (Pesticide Mixtures Have Damaging Effects on Bees http://extension.psu.edu/pests/ipm/news/2013/pesticide-mixtures-have-damaging-affects-on-bees)
Last week we reported the EPA stated the new pesticide label language will now only be required for foliar applications of clothianidin, dinotefuran, imidacloprid, thiamethoxam, and the two new products tolfenpyrad and cyantraniliprole. At the Los Banos meeting the representatives from EPA stated they had not seen the letter from Mr. Jim Jones to the bee industry, and they were not aware of the issues the bee industry had concerning the new label language. (Jim Jones’ letter was posted on our Newslist and is available here again). EPA listened politely, but made no promise to do anything, stating that changing label wording is a long and drawn out process, and one that cannot be done quickly. Beekeepers on the other hand did make promises: promises to add a pesticide surcharge to pollination contracts next year; promises that if no enforceable change to labels is made before next years’ pollination to stay in Georgia or Florida and make honey in a safe environment rather than risk another season of severe hive damage. Beekeepers at the meeting asked EPA for two things: adding a statement on the label instructing applicators when and how to apply pesticides to not damage pollinators; and curtail the use of tank mixing.
Paramount Farms, the largest almond grower in the world, testified at the meeting they use no crop protection products during almond pollination season, and have found their yields improved when they made the decision to better time their pesticide use.
At the Los Banos meeting March 24 the beekeepers did a rough tally of total estimated losses. 1.7M colonies supplied by 1300 commercial beekeepers were needed to pollinate almonds. Even with the drought, all available honey bees were utilized for almond pollination. Of the 1.7M total colonies, it is estimated fifteen to twenty-five percent were damaged (dead, loss of brood, loss of adult foragers in full or in part) which equals 255,000 to 425,000 colonies of honey bees severely impacted in almonds. The conservative value of these losses is $63,750,000 to $106,250,000; however beekeepers are still assessing their damages. This figure does not include the loss of viable colonies to satisfy subsequent pollination contracts. This figure does not take into account the losses in selling bulk packages of honey bees, queens, or frames of brood to establish new hives. With severely damaged hives some beekeepers have been forced to cancel orders.
Almonds are the beginning of the crop pollination season. Almonds are the first crop honey bees pollinate. What happens to honey bees in almonds affects the ability of crop pollination services to apples, cranberries, canola, tangelos, blueberries, squash, watermelon, kiwi, plums, apricots, cherries, seed crops, and so much of our vegetables and fruit. One beekeeper who pollinates Washington apples after almonds was short 1200 hives due to his losses during almond pollination. What happens to honey bees in almonds does not stay in almonds; it affects how many bees are available to pollinate other crops, the cost of pollinating those crops, and the cost of the food you buy to feed your family.
The Pollinator Stewardship Council works with beekeepers to collect reports of bee kills across the U.S. in rural, suburban, and urban areas. Please contact the Pollinator Stewardship Council to file your bee kill report at 832-727-9492 or email@example.com .
2014 Survey Now Ready. Take it today!
We need your help! The Bee Informed Partnership is conducting our annual National Honey Bee Loss and Management survey, now open through the end of April. Please take 30 minutes out of your busy day to complete the surveys.
The purpose of the Bee Informed Partnership is to use beekeepers' real world experiences to help solve beekeepers' real world problems. We will use the data generated from these two surveys to help you decide which management practices are best for beekeepers like you, who live where you do and have operations similar to yours. For this to work, we need as many participants as possible...so please take the time to fill out the questionnaire and SEND THIS EMAIL TO ALL THE BEEKEEPERS YOU KNOW asking them to fill out these questionnaires too.
You can see what type of results we will generate by visiting the beeinformed.org website and browsing through our results section. Currently we are in the process of posting last year’s management results, so visit the site often to see these results as they are posted.
Depending on the number of participants we will have the results from this year’s survey broken down by region and should have those results posted within months of the survey close date.
Should you have any questions or concerns please do not hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 443.296.2470.
You can learn more about the Bee Informed Partnership at beeinformed.org.
BE INVOLVED, BE INCLUDED, BEE INFORMED.
The Bee Informed Partnership Team
Release No. 0054.14
Office of Communications (202)720-4623
USDA Officially Announces Sign-Up Date for Farmer and Rancher Disaster Assistance Programs
Sign-Up Begins April 15 for Livestock, Honeybee, Fruit Grower Programs
WASHINGTON, April 7, 2014 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced today that farmers and ranchers can sign-up for disaster assistance programs, reestablished and strengthened by the 2014 Farm Bill, beginning Tuesday, April 15, 2014. Quick implementation of the programs has been a top priority for USDA.
"These programs will provide long-awaited disaster relief for many livestock producers who have endured significant financial hardship from weather-related disasters while the programs were expired and awaiting Congressional action," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "President Obama and I prioritized the implementation of these disaster assistance programs now that the Farm Bill has restored and strengthened them."
The Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) and the Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP) will provide payments to eligible producers for livestock deaths and grazing losses that have occurred since the expiration of the livestock disaster assistance programs in 2011, and including calendar years 2012, 2013, and 2014.
Enrollment also begins on April 15 for producers with losses covered by the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP) and the Tree Assistance Program (TAP).
- LIP provides compensation to eligible livestock producers that have suffered livestock death losses in excess of normal mortality due to adverse weather. Eligible livestock includes beef cattle, dairy cattle, bison, poultry, sheep, swine, horses, and other livestock as determined by the Secretary.
- LFP provides compensation to eligible livestock producers that have suffered grazing losses due to drought or fire on publicly managed land. An eligible livestock producer must own, cash lease, or be a contract grower of eligible livestock during the 60 calendar days before the beginning date of the qualifying drought or fire in a county that is rated by the U.S. Drought Monitor as D2, D3, or D4.
- ELAP provides emergency assistance to eligible producers of livestock, honeybees and farm-raised fish that have losses due to disease, adverse weather, or other conditions, such as blizzards and wildfires, as determined by the Secretary of Agriculture.
- TAP provides financial assistance to qualifying orchardists and nursery tree growers to replant or rehabilitate eligible trees, bushes and vines damaged by natural disasters.
USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) employees have worked exceptionally hard over the past two months to ensure eligible farmers and ranchers would be able to enroll to receive disaster relief on April 15.
To expedite applications, all producers who experienced losses are encouraged to collect records documenting these losses in preparation for the enrollment in these disaster assistance programs. Information on the types of records necessary can be provided by local FSA county offices. Producers also are encouraged to contact their county office ahead of time to schedule an appointment.
For more information, producers may review the 2014 Farm Bill Fact Sheet, ELAP and TAP fact sheets online, or visit any local FSA office or USDA Service Center.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write to USDA, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Stop 9410, Washington, DC 20250-9410, or call toll-free at (866) 632-9992 (English) or (800) 877-8339 (TDD) or (866) 377-8642 (English Federal-relay) or (800) 845-6136 (Spanish Federal-relay).
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