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Honeybees deal with 'perfect storm' in survival attempt
Logan T. Carlson
July 6, 2014
MARSHFIELD – The life of honeybees in the United States used to be much simpler, but now beekeepers are navigating a gauntlet of pesticides, diseases and a vast "agricultural desert" devoid of the pollen that serves to nurture bees.
When beekeeping was at its peak in the 1960s, there were about 4 million managed honeybee colonies in the United States, with about half that being managed by beekeepers today.
When President Richard Nixon opened up trade routes with China in the 1970s, that basically took out the honey industry in the United States, said Doug Hauke, owner of Hauke Honey in Marshfield, which manages about 3,000 honeybee colonies in three states during the year.
"Honey prices just fell in half, and fell way below the cost of production," he said. "How many beekeepers do you see? You don't see many young guys in bees anymore, because it's a lot harder to set up."
Beekeepers used to have to worry about one disease that infected their colonies, but the introduction of bees from around the world has brought numerous diseases specific to each species with them.
Meanwhile. with farmers turning to genetically modified corn and soybeans across the country, the switch has created a vast "agricultural desert" deprived of the pollen bees need to make honey and feed themselves.
When alfalfa and clover were grown in more abundance, a colony of bees could be expected to produce about 200 to 400 pounds of honey in a season. Today, beekeepers are lucky if they can produce about 100 pounds.
"Bees can overcome a lot of diseases. They are durable little insects, but then you have this agri-desert out there. There's nothing out there for them," Hauke said. "They're starving, and when they do go out there, they run into pesticides, and these new diseases. It's the perfect storm out there."
The hardest thing for beekeepers today is keeping their bees alive, said Randy Bohon, who manages about 2,500 colonies, transporting them to farms in Wisconsin and Florida to pollinate crops.
"A queen bee used to cost about $4 and last for about four to five years," Bohon said. "Right now, they cost about $20 per queen, and you're lucky if they last more than a year."
With all the issues honeybees are navigating, beekeepers are facing huge annual losses in their bee populations.
"The average losses in the U.S. has been about 30 percent, which is not sustainable for most beekeeping operations," Hauke said. "When you look at beekeepers, there are huge losses. We're one of the biggest (bee operations) in the state, but it's not because we're big; it's because all the big guys are gone. It's kind of telling someone you're the largest dairy farm in the state when you have 10 cows.
"The writing is on the wall," Hauke said.
CLICK HERE to watch video
Logan T. Carlson can be reached at 715-384-3131, ext. 328.
*AHPA editor's note-Doug Hauke is an Executive Board member of American Honey Producers Association
Powerful insecticide turns up in major Midwest rivers
Insecticide at heart of debate over honeybee deaths found in six states
Article by: JOSEPHINE MARCOTTY , Star Tribune
Updated: July 25, 2014
A pervasive agricultural insecticide that has been linked to the decline of honeybees is now a near-constant presence in the small and great rivers that flow through Midwestern farm country, according to the first major review of its kind.
Scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey tracked the toxins called neonicotinoids in six states and nine Midwestern rivers, including the portion of the Mississippi that drains southern Minnesota, and found that they were universally present throughout the growing season in every watershed tested.
The results, published this week, raise significant questions about possible threats to the insects that form the base of the food chain in aquatic ecosystems, and they follow another study last month that found sharp declines in birds wherever the insecticides were widely used in Holland.
“If you get enough rain to transport it over land or into tile drains, then it gets into streams quite quickly at higher concentrations,” said Kathryn Kuivila, a scientist at the USGS Oregon Water Science Center in Portland, Ore., and a lead author of the study.
The concentrations found by the study are lower than those the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers fatal to aquatic insects, she said. But other scientists have found that the EPA’s estimates for toxicity may be too high.
“Even more importantly, these organisms are not exposed to just one neonicotinoid,” Kuivila said. “And there are other pesticides, other stressors.”
Neonicotinoids, a synthetic nicotine, are neurotoxins whose use has exploded since they were first introduced in the mid-1990s. They are now the most widely used insecticide in the world, having quickly replaced older classes of chemicals that were far more toxic to humans and mammals.
The manufacturers, Bayer CropScience and Syngenta, say that neonicotinoids provide significant increases in yield for farmers and that there is no evidence that they are harmful to the environment. But recent studies have found that they may play a major role in the decline of honeybees, other pollinating insects and wildlife.
The compounds are most often used as a seed treatment for corn, soybeans and other cash crops, and — because they are water-soluble — they become part of the plant’s vascular system as it grows. But only a tiny portion of the toxin is absorbed into the plant, while the rest remains in the soil, where it can leach into ground and surface water.
The USGS study, however, is the first to measure how widely the toxins have spread through surface waters. The researchers took monthly measurements at eight sites from spring through fall in 2013. They looked at small watersheds such as the Little Sioux, which drains a tiny portion of southern Minnesota at the Iowa border, and the huge watersheds of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers. At a ninth site, a tiny watershed in Iowa surrounded by agricultural fields, they took more frequent measurements to track how the pollutant levels changed during the season and with rain.
They found one or more of three different kinds of neonicotinoids in each of the 79 samples. The highest concentrations were found in smaller watersheds where farming was the dominant use of the landscape lower concentrations were found in the big rivers that drained areas with more diverse uses.
“We are finding them throughout the season,” Kuivila said. “They tend to be more water-soluble than older insecticides.”
What is not clear, however, is what impact they have in aquatic ecosystems, she said. Levels considered toxic by the EPA are many times higher than those found in the USGS samples. But Kuivila said that other studies have found that toxicity can be much lower for some species, and others have found that the number of tiny worms and other soil insects drops precipitously at very low concentrations.
Josephine Marcotty • 612-673-7394
THIS SEPTEMBER, GET STUNG WITH THE ACCLAIMED, GROUNDBREAKING FILM ABOUT BEES AND
THE PEOPLE WHO KEEP THEM
Following Vanishing of the Bees, This Entertaining, In-Depth Documentary
Explores the Lives of Those Facing Challenges on Behalf of the Endangered Insects;
it Flies onto DVD and Digital Platforms from True Mind, a TDC Entertainment Imprint with
Some Amazingly Sweet Bonus Material
“An entertaining and informative glimpse into the life of a
unique subculture of humanity.”
– Film Threat
“From the hives to the removal, to the whys and hows of dealing with bees,
this is a doc that everyone who’s worried about our planet should see!”
– Rogue Cinema
National Release Date: September 9, 2014
DVD SRP: $19.98
Warning: The Information You Are About to See May Result in Hives
For 100 million years, bees have provided sustainability on earth. In fact, did you know the honeybee is responsible for one third of the items on our dinner plates? Unfortunately, today, these glorious pollinators are facing myriad challenges – colony collapse disorder, nicotine-based pesticides, mites -- and are disappearing at truly alarming numbers. Following in the flight path of the acclaimed documentary Vanishing of the Bees (also available from TDC), BEE PEOPLE invites audiences into the incredible world of bees – and the people who keep them.
“Bee People” raises the informational bar and provides an in-depth look at the people who are facing the challenge on behalf of the bees, making a real difference, and who now urge everyone to join them on a planet-saving mission! Most importantly, the filmmakers and Bee People involved in the creation of the film pose a solution that is doable, workable and a whole-lotta fun.
Shot on location in Colorado (Denver, Boulder, Englewood, Fort Collins, Red Rocks & Strasburg), New York (Queens, Rego Park, NYC), and New Jersey (Liberty Corner), BEE PEOPLE takes you
from barn to backyard; from the coutryside to the city and from hives small to enormous. The film and cast will astound you with its information and its entertainment. Who are these bee people? What compels them to do what they do?
An Official Selection in The Women + Film Voices Film Festival and the Grandin Theatre Festival of Cinematic Delights, BEE PEOPLE features “The Bee Guru”, Gregg McMahan, owner of Rocky Mountain Bee Removal, Relocation and Education. McMahan is one part rock-star andone part bee evangelist, and is the most ardent member of the Bee People community you’re ever likely to meet. His dissertations on all-things-bees are mesmerizing, entertaining and highly educational, and once he hooks you, you’ll ‘get stung’and catch ‘bee fever’.
But McMahan is hardly the only bee person you’ll get to meet and learn from in BEE PEOPLE; he leads an amazing cast of characters, all doing their part to rescue the future of sustainability, Among those included are Tate, an 11-year-old beekeeper; Mike Gallagher, “The Bee Medic”, an insurance executive by day, and a bee (and California Quail keeper) by weekend; and the NYPD’s famous Bee Cop, Tony “Bees” Planakis who was recently interviewed and featured in People Magazine. The fun really begins when these two icons, the Guru and the Cop of the honeybee world – long admirers of each other – are brought together for the first time for a most unusual bee removal in Queens, N.Y – and a glorious honey extraction in Rego Park.
"Everybody who's studied history knows that all the rulers, all the kings and queens of ancient Egypt, Plato and Aristotle - all these people through history have known the magic of the bee and how important it was to us." - Bee Guru Gregg McMahan
And on the subject of getting stung…
"Bees are docile creatures. On those rare events when I get stung, I don't look forward to it, but it does give me relief from my arthritis for a couple of days.“ - Seth Belson, former President of The NJ Beekeepers Association
From extreme honey removal (20 pounds of pure gold from the walls of a barn) to the chaos of an intense hive “marriage”, BEE PEOPLE offers a “bee-on-the-wall” view of the fascinating lives of those who seek to build buzz, literally.
· Featurette: “Extracting Honey” (16 mins.)
Catalog #: TMR-DV-118
Running Time: 102 mins. + 16 mins. bonus material
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1
SRP: $19.98 U.S.
ABOUT TDC ENTERTAINMENT
New York City-based TDC Entertainment is a diversified home entertainment distributor headed by longtime industry veterans Gary Baddeley and Dan Gurlitz. TDC combines the distinctive film collections of three label imprints: disinformation®, True Mind and Shelter Island. With a focus on films that cover social, political and environmental issues, as well as subjects that range from ethics and health to personal growth and history, TDC’s highly acclaimed library of films includes Robert Greenwald’s political documentaries such as Unmanned: America’s Drone Wars, Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price and Outfoxed, the Emmy®-winning series Journey of the Universe, compelling issue-oriented docs including Tapped, Killer at Large, Greedy Lying Bastards and Unacceptable Levels, as well as the best-selling Parents Choice Award-winning instructional series, Drawing with Mark. For more information, visit TDCent.com.
For screening options, artwork, or other information contact Marcie Gainer at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
14143 Road 28
Madera, CA 93638
Contact: Erica H. Stuart, P.I.O.
Phone: (559) 675-7976
Cell: (559) 232-8756
DATE:Monday July 14, 2014
WORKER CAUGHT SKIMMING BEEKEEPER’S WAX
Madera County – A Chowchilla man, who, according to his booking sheet, lists his occupation as Beekeeper, sits behind bars – accused of skimming hundreds of pounds of beeswax off a Madera County Apiarist.
26-year old Karl Robert Glick, is suspected of pocketing more than $2,000 at the beekeeper’s expense.
On Saturday, the honey farmer discovered equipment missing from his shop. While visiting one of his hives, saw a bill of sale for $1700 in plain view inside the suspect’s open car; and later in the day, deputies would seize the stolen property along with nearly 200 pounds of beeswax from the suspect’s property.
The suspect is accused of stealing the wax and selling it to a company in Fresno.
Profits from honey sales are only part of the beekeeping industry. Beeswax, commonly known for production in candle-making, is a major commodity and its uses are widespread. Purified and bleached beeswax, for example, is used in the production of food, skin care, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.
Glick is facing felony charges that include burglary and possession of stolen property. He remains jailed at this hour with bail set at $15,000
Based on evidence deputies have gleaned so far, it’s believed that this is not an isolated incident. The case remains open. Anyone who may have information about this type of theft in the apiary industry is urged to call either the Madera County Sheriff’s Office at 675-7770 or CRIME STOPPER at 498-STOP
Pollinator Stewardship Council Working for You
Board Members and staff of the Pollinator Stewardship Council (PSC) actively participate in State and Federal Committees, task forces, and coalitions to improve the lives of beekeepers, and the pollinating environment for managed and native pollinators.
During June, Board member, Steven Coy traveled to Washington, D.C. to participate in the EPA’s Pollinator Protection Workgroup, and then he presented testimony to the full Pesticide Program Dialogue Committee of EPA. He spoke to the issues of concern for beekeepers. First, the continued reliance on best management practices (BMPs) for crop pollination services, are in the end, voluntary. Even when growers and beekeepers agree upon a practice that best protects pollinators and the crop, incidents such as damage to 80,000 colonies at the end of almond bloom create havoc as best management practices are “thrown under the bus” at the expense of the beekeeper. While beekeepers support training and education in the use of pesticides, and practices to protect pollinators; education is futile if it is not backed up with enforcement.
Mr. Coy expressed beekeeper concerns about risk mitigation. Moving bees may mitigate or reduce risk for that particular set of colonies, but it does not reduce the risk to native species. If managed colonies are moved the crop suffers reduced pollination time, and an extended residual toxicity pesticide delays pollination further as bees may have to wait seven to fourteen days to return to a field. Lastly, where is a safe place to move bees to avoid drift, and have a pesticide-free food source within mono-agriculture? For those crops that attract bees, but are not needed for pollination, such as corn, soybean, and cotton, BMPs should be used in a manner to protect beneficial and incidental insects. A sterile field environment is not natural nor healthy for the ecosystem. The BMPs for these crops should include management techniques that will find the balance between killing the pest, and preserving the beneficial insects. However, moving bees does not address the real problem. The real problem is the miss-application of the pesticide product and/or the initial improper risk assessment of the product by the EPA. Applying pesticides in a manner that protects managed bees (whether present or not) will reduce the impact on the non-target organisms.
“The mission of EPA is to protect human health and the environment.” Protecting non-target organisms—managed and native pollinators, is the responsibility of the EPA. EPA uses pesticide label guidelines to protect pollinators and the environment. Recently, EPA has begun to adjust their pesticide labels. A new label was proposed for just four neonics; then that was changed; then they changed it again. The revised label reflects pollinator protections for clothianidin, dinotefuran, imidacloprid, thiamethoxam, tolfenpyrad, and cyantraniliprole. It appears the label is attempting to restore old protective measures of no applications of bee toxic pesticides to bloom. However, the five exceptions within the new label guidelines negate the “do not apply,” and allow for pollinators to be killed per the label.
Mr. Coy expressed beekeeper concerns the EPA should not allow the States to create risk mitigation measures that are weaker than the federal standards. When each state or EPA region creates their own mitigation measures for pollinators, beekeepers and growers will be hard-pressed to know procedures in ten EPA regions, and fifty states. Honey bees provide a great resource to mono-agriculture, and are necessary to pollinate the crops in mono-agriculture. The Biological and Economic Analysis Division (BEAD) of EPA must revise their economic analysis of honey bees and other pollinators, to consider the full value contributed by pollinators. The economic analysis needs to account for the true value of the bee colony, its production potential (honey, bees, pollination fees, etc.), the value added to the crop through pollination, and the subsequent products from the pollinated crop. When managed pollinators have a total calculated economic value to the production of crops and the health of agriculture and the ecosystem, their importance as integral to the food supply will be fiscally recognized.
Board members along with representatives from the American Honey Producers Association, the American Beekeeping Federation, and the National Honey Bee Advisory Board participated in the Summit at the White House in late spring which resulted in the President’s Memorandum to protect pollinators. PSC Board members and staff join with other bee industry leaders serving on the Honey Bee Health Coalition, as well as the Pesticide Program Dialogue Committee at EPA, and the Pollinator Protection Workgroup at EPA. PSC Board members and staff are leaders in or members of their respective State and local Beekeeping Associations.
Pollinator Stewardship Council Board members are NOT compensated to serve on these state and national committees and task forces. No matter the level of the task force, Clinton Global Initiative, White House, or State Association leader, bee industry leaders are not compensated for their time or travel. Participants in these work groups make the time for monthly conference calls, pay for airfare, hotel, and meals to Washington, D.C., and may meet quarterly in person at regional locations around the country to work for the protection, longevity, and viability of beekeepers and the beekeeping industry. We are beekeepers working for beekeepers. We need your support for legislative actions, we need your funding support for the bee kill evidence kits and lab analysis project, we need your support to provide educational programs about the impact of pesticides upon pollinators and beekeeping.
Bee foraging chronically impaired by pesticide exposure: Study
Date: July 9, 2014
Source: University of Guelph
Summary: A new study that involved fitting bumblebees with tiny radio frequency tags shows long-term exposure to a neonicotinoid pesticide hampers bees' ability to forage for pollen. The study shows how long-term pesticide exposure affects individual bees' day-to-day behavior, including pollen collection and which flowers worker bees chose to visit.
A study co-authored by a University of Guelph scientist that involved fitting bumblebees with tiny radio frequency tags shows long-term exposure to a neonicotinoid pesticide hampers bees' ability to forage for pollen.
The research by Nigel Raine, a professor in Guelph's School of Environmental Sciences, and Richard Gill of Imperial College London was published today in the British Ecological Society's journal Functional Ecology.
The study shows how long-term pesticide exposure affects individual bees' day-to-day behaviour, including pollen collection and which flowers worker bees chose to visit.
"Bees have to learn many things about their environment, including how to collect pollen from flowers," said Raine, who holds the Rebanks Family Chair in Pollinator Conservation, a Canadian first.
"Exposure to this neonicotinoid pesticide seems to prevent bees from being able to learn these essential skills."
The researchers monitored bee activity using radio frequency identification (RFID) tags similar to those used by courier firms to track parcels. They tracked when individual bees left and returned to the colony, how much pollen they collected and from which flowers.
Bees from untreated colonies got better at collecting pollen as they learned to forage. But bees exposed to neonicotinoid insecticides became less successful over time at collecting pollen.
Neonicotinoid-treated colonies even sent out more foragers to try to compensate for lack of pollen from individual bees.
Besides collecting less pollen, said Raine, "the flower preferences of neonicotinoid-exposed bees were different to those of foraging bees from untreated colonies."
Raine and Gill studied the effects of two pesticides -- imidacloprid, one of three neonicotinoid pesticides currently banned for use on crops attractive to bees by the European Commission, and pyrethroid (lambda cyhalothrin) -- used alone or together, on the behaviour of individual bumblebees from 40 colonies over four weeks.
"Although pesticide exposure has been implicated as a possible cause for bee decline, until now we had limited understanding of the risk these chemicals pose, especially how it affects natural foraging behaviour," Raine said.
Neonicotinoids make up about 30 per cent of the global pesticide market. Plants grown from neonicotinoid-treated seed have the pesticide in all their tissues, including the nectar and pollen.
"If pesticides are affecting the normal behaviour of individual bees, this could have serious knock-on consequences for the growth and survival of colonies," explained Raine.
The researchers suggest reform of pesticide regulations, including adding bumblebees and solitary bees to risk assessments that currently cover only honeybees.
"Bumblebees may be much more sensitive to pesticide impacts as their colonies contain a few hundred workers at most, compared to tens of thousands in a honeybee colony," Raine said.
The above story is based on materials provided by University of Guelph. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.
Scientists track gene activity when honey bees do and don't eat honey: Significant differences depending on diet
Date: July 17, 2014
Source: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Summary: Many beekeepers feed their honey bees sucrose or high-fructose corn syrup when times are lean inside the hive. This practice has come under scrutiny, however, in response to colony collapse disorder, the massive -- and as yet not fully explained -- annual die-off of honey bees in the U.S. and Europe. Some suspect that inadequate nutrition plays a role in honey bee declines. Scientists took a broad look at changes in gene activity in response to diet in the Western honey bee, and found significant differences occur depending on what the bees eat.
Many beekeepers feed their honey bees sucrose or high-fructose corn syrup when times are lean inside the hive. This practice has come under scrutiny, however, in response to colony collapse disorder, the massive -- and as yet not fully explained -- annual die-off of honey bees in the U.S. and Europe. Some suspect that inadequate nutrition plays a role in honey bee declines.
In a new study, described in Scientific Reports, researchers took a broad look at changes in gene activity in response to diet in the Western honey bee (Apis mellifera), and found significant differences occur depending on what the bees eat.
The researchers looked specifically at an energy storage tissue in bees called the fat body, which functions like the liver and fat tissues in humans and other vertebrates.
"We figured that the fat body might be a particularly revealing tissue to examine, and it did turn out to be the case," said University of Illinois entomology professor and Institute for Genomic Biology director Gene Robinson, who performed the new analysis together with entomology graduate student Marsha Wheeler.
The researchers limited their analysis to foraging bees, which are older, have a higher metabolic rate and less energy reserves (in the form of lipids stored in the fat body) than their hive-bound nest mates -- making the foragers much more dependent on a carbohydrate-rich diet, Robinson said.
"We reasoned that the foragers might be more sensitive to the effects of different carbohydrate sources," he said.
The researchers focused on gene activity in response to feeding with honey, high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), or sucrose. They found that those bees fed honey had a very different profile of gene activity in the fat body than those relying on HFCS or sucrose. Hundreds of genes showed differences in activity in honey bees consuming honey compared with those fed HFCS or sucrose. These differences remained even in an experimental hive that the researchers discovered was infected with deformed wing virus, one of the many maladies that afflict honey bees around the world.
"Our results parallel suggestive findings in humans," Robinson said. "It seems that in both bees and humans, sugar is not sugar -- different carbohydrate sources can act differently in the body."
Some of the genes that were activated differently in the honey-eating bees have been linked to protein metabolism, brain-signaling and immune defense. The latter finding supports a 2013 study led by U. of I. entomology professor and department head May Berenbaum, who reported that some substances in honey increase the activity of genes that help the bees break down potentially toxic substances such as pesticides.
"Our results further show honey induces gene expression changes on a more global scale, and it now becomes important to investigate whether these changes can affect bee health," Robinson said.
The above story is based on materials provided by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.
An Upcoming War
by Randy Verhoek, President, AHPA
There seems to be an upcoming battle on the horizon between Environmental activist groups calling for a complete ban on the neo-nicotinoid class of pesticides and the chemical companies that produce them. In fact, this is an ongoing war that has been going on for some time. And whether we like it or not, beekeepers and farmers are getting caught, even placed, in the middle of this tug of war because beekeepers and farmers use pesticides. I am being brutally honest with you when I say this is a war that I do not want to be involved in. But we don’t always get what we want, do we?
We Need Strong, Well-Informed Leadership
The leadership at AHPA has known about this upcoming battle for some time. Given all of the issues we have with keeping our bees alive and healthy we have been diligently investigating every aspect that affects the health and vigor of a honeybee colony, including pesticides. Beekeepers can cooperate with researchers doing all of the research they want concerning Varroa, Nosema, viruses, nutrition, etc. and no one pays much attention to us. But whenever we ask for research to be done on pesticides and their impact on honeybees, then we have the whole ag community’s attention, especially pesticide manufacturers. Over the past seven years AHPA leadership has been to countless stakeholder meetings endeavoring to find common ground of how commercial beekeepers can serve the ag community in a manner or reasonable crop protection for all parties.
At the consternation of some, I have done my very best to stay the course and not allow emotions to guide the decision making process for the AHPA. Speaking from my own experience, it is a very emotional experience when you have a devastating loss of your own operations bee hives. I get that! Nevertheless, it is rational to be prudent and act with wisdom. In the court of public opinion one can spin about anything in one direction or another. However, in a court of law, “It’s not what you know, it’s what you can prove”. Therefore, we refuse to be hornswoggled by any group that is going to pit beekeepers against farmers and farmers against beekeepers. The fact of the matter is we don’t have to start this scenario because it’s already being done for us by Big Ag. And by Big Ag I mean some of the commodity groups, pesticide manufacturers, pesticide crop advisors, pesticide applicators, and pesticide distributors and so on. Consider this recent scenario from a Utah beekeeper/bee inspector.
"I passed your information onto a reporter here in Southern Utah. It seems Intermountain Farmers is up to no good again. They have told farmers in the area if they allow beekeepers to have bees on their property or on adjoining property that they must charge a 5 dollar fee per acre for a less lethal formula of spray. They have also been spraying one adjoining property to where bees were kept and never told the farmer of the difference in cost, so they got him 3 thousand dollars in fees associated with his summer time sprays on his alfalfa. So one farmer calls the other and instead of having a battle between neighbors the bee keeper is asked to leave. The property where the bees were at have been in this location for three years with not problems, but because of my actions of standing up to them last year they are taking it out on farmers every where they spray. This farmer uses his water pivot and inject the chemical at night and no issues to the bees. Hitting them in the pocket book is the quickest method for IFA to continue to drive a wedge between bee keepers and farmers, all so they can in discrimately spray without the worry of bees in the area. To heck with any other pollinators. Also IFA feels that any bee keeper that places his bees next to an adjoining property that has forage, they consider that theft and it just isn't right that a bee keepers bees can forage. They have a screwed up sense of the way things work. Anyway I guess that war has just begun. This all coming from a company that has started selling bees, equipment etc and competing with the local commercial bee keepers who have been selling it for years. Then turn around and do everything they can to put the commercial guy out of business and make it impossible to find and apiary. Thanks Casey"
I have also heard of reports in ND of applicators and product manufacturers promoting a message of fear of the liability of having bees present. I am writing this in general terms so if this is not your case that is a good thing. Be thankful even.
Where Do We Go From Here?
So what is the next step? Every single day there seems to be another research paper with damning evidence of the harmful effects of neo-nicotinoids. On the other hand, there seems to be about as many research papers lauding their safety and by the way, “aren’t they better than organophosphates?”
So yeah, “What’s the next step”, really is a good question isn’t it? Where is this whole beekeeper, pesticide, farmer/landowner issue going to end? Oh wait, don’t forget get environmental activist groups, pesticide manufacturers and crop advisors. In any case the AHPA must look after the betterment of the members and must challenge pesticides that pose to be problematic by petitioning EPA for adequate risk assessment as well as better bee-hazard statements for labels.
In closing, there is one road that we can choose that will do well for us. And that is simply beekeepers having conversations directly with your landowner/farmers. Work on your relationships directly with them and work out a plan that the two of you can live with on a cooperative basis. Listen to their concerns of protecting their crop as you tell your story and ask him to consider the economic benefits of the presence of honeybees.
If you have an opinion concerning these issues, I would like to hear from you. Please email your comments to: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
In your service,
AHPA and ABF go to Germany
by Darren Cox, Vice President, AHPA
While you were all out working your bees and stacking those supers high on your hives, your industry leaders were busy helping you. Randy was not able to go to Germany as he was speaking at a Farm Bureau Convention. So Gene Brandi, Vice President of ABF, Zac Browning, ABF, and I went to Germany to have high level meetings with BASF.
I had thought that I would get on a plane, fly to Germany a few days early, rent a Ferrari and head off to Austria and Switzerland, but the weather and airlines had a different reality. So instead I got there after three days of travel the day before the meetings.
BASF is known for being THE chemical company as they are the largest, as I understand. Our meetings took place over a two day period at BASF main research building in Limburgerhof, Germany. Our first day we met with their scientific leaders of the fields that applied to pollinators. Risk assessment of their products was the top talking points for discussion. They seemed genuine in their dialog of understanding the challenges that science and field reality can pose to managing large scale bee operations. The interaction of pest control and colony health and finding the balance is always a moving target. I was impressed by their sincere efforts in risk assessment. The PELLSTON process is now complete and has provided new guidelines that requires registrants to do more thorough testing. We will see better risk assessment on new products that will mitigate negative effects on our hives.
The second day we met with the top brass at BASF including the senior Vice President Dr. Juergen Oldeweme, Ines Lang, in charge of Public/Government affairs, Dr. Friedrich Knecht, Global Sustainable & Product Stewardship, Dr. Andreas Ufer, Director Global Ecotoxicology, and Dr. Joe Wisk, the North American Representative and Manager, Ecotoxicology, BASF Corporation of Agricultural Solutions that set up the meeting. The bee industry has been in dialog with Dr. Wisk for many years and he stands out as a valued stakeholder for us to interact with. The meeting was interesting in that they wanted to know what influence the bee industry had with other groups and regulatory authorities. It is clear that the bee industry is center stage for areas of concern. Many products will need to be re-evaluated and products coming onto the market will face much more scrutiny. I made a statement that beekeepers like the judicious use of pesticides applied lawfully according to the label. Our civilization requires the support of honey bees to pollinate vast amount of almond acreage and specialty crops around the globe. Our industry, unfortunately, is a pesticide dependent industry and without the ability to kill a bug on a bug we are out of business. Protecting pollinators and protecting crops is the middle of the road that we must strive for. Finding this balance has been the goal of AHPA for many years. It is extremely delicate negotiations and in the end will require the full cooperation and support from registrants to applicators as well as beekeepers.
I hope the boxes you stacked on your hives filled up while we were gone and your honey crops are good this year
Take care and kill those mites early!
Ontario looking to restrict use of bee-killing pesticides
Province to consult with agriculture and could move by 2015
By Susan Noakes, CBC News Posted: Jul 07, 2014
Ontario plans to consult with growers and agricultural representatives over the next few months to reduce or eliminate use of neonicotinoids – a class of chemicals implicated in the deaths of bees.
Ontario Agriculture Minister Jeff Leal said the province wants to “move away from the widespread, indiscriminate use of neonicotinoid-based pesticides.”
'Over the coming months I want to first consult with industry, farmers and environmental stakeholders on options that are practical, including the consideration of a licence system'- Ontario Agriculture Minister Jeff Leal
“I am committed to finding a balanced approach, based in science, that addresses the important role both pollinators and growers play in Ontario’s agri-food industry,” Leal said in a statement.
“Over the coming months I want to first consult with industry, farmers and environmental stakeholders on options that are practical, including the consideration of a licence system.”
The province stopped short of saying it would impose a ban, as it did with the cosmetic pesticides used on lawns and golf courses.
But the minister said he hoped to develop a system by 2015 that would ensure the pesticide is used only where there is “demonstrated need.”
Ontario can block sale of chemicals
Ontario doesn’t have the power to ban neonicotinoids – a class of chemicals also known as neonics – but it can ban their sale in the province as it did with lawn chemicals.
Up to 100 per cent of corn seed and half of soybean seed is grown using neonics.
Beekeepers have expressed concern about neonics for years and the agriculture industry is worried it will not have the pollinators it needs to keep fruits and vegetables developing.
“Fully a third of our food relies on pollinators: without bees, Ontario’s food supply could be in serious trouble,” Ontario Beekeeper’s Association says in a petition to Premier Kathleen Wynne asking for a ban on the pesticides.
A Health Canada study linked widespread deaths of bees to use of the chemicals.
Evidence mounts against neonics
Evidence has been mounting linking neonicotinoids to bee mortality. In late June, the Task Force on Systemic Pesticides, a group of 50 scientists from around the world, released a study of the literature about the long-term impact of neonics and concluded they ought to be banned.
Plants sprayed with neonics can remain toxic for years and that can affect entire ecosystems, they found.
Neonics are a family of chemicals that disrupt the central nervous systems of insects and can discourage pests like aphids and grubs for the life of a plant.
One of the problems with them, as far as bees are concerned, is that they are systemic pesticides, that are applied to seeds and roots but then become become incorporated into the plant and can show up in leaves, pollen, nectar, fruit and flowers.
Several retail chains that sell home garden plants have said they are reviewing practices at their suppliers over use of neonicotinoids.
Retailers review neonics on nursery plants
Rona, Canadian Tire and Home Depot have been under pressure since a Friends of the Earth study in Canada found neonics in the flowers and pollen of plants that had begun life in their nurseries.
Friends of the Earth tested home garden plants, including bee-friendly plants such as Shasta daisy and salvia, for the pesticide and found more than half of plants in garden centres in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver contained neonics.
Rona and Canadian Tire said they were working with their vendors to assess how neonicotinoids are used by plant nurseries in wake of the Friends of the Earth report. Home Depot said it is working with its suppliers “to understand the science and find alternatives.”
A Rona spokeswoman said the company has “been paying close attention to the neonicotinoid pesticides issue.”
“Since we favour an approach based on dialogue and continuous improvement with our suppliers, we will complete our due diligence with them and then apply the business recommendations accordingly,” the company said in a statement.
A Canadian Tire statement pointed to Health Canada’s efforts to review the impact of neonics.
Health Canada 'monitoring'
Health Canada put in guidelines last year for the soybean and corn growers, who use neonicotinoids on the seeds, demanding a dust-reducing lubricant to prevent the pesticide spreading at seeding time.
But it is monitoring whether this reduced bee mortality in 2014 and has demanded additional information on whether the chemicals are actually needed in agriculture.
It could introduce new measures for 2015 or halt the use of neonicotinoids altogether.
The European Union has already banned the chemicals.
CATCH THE BUZZ
Change At Beltsville. Jeff Pettis Steps Down.
By Kim Flottum
After nine productive years, Dr. Jeffery Pettis is stepping down as Research Leader of the USDA-ARS Bee Research Laboratory (BRL) in Beltsville, MD, and will devote his energy to his research program and collaborations with colleagues and beekeepers. Dr. Pettis guided the Laboratory through the turbulent times of Colony Collapse Disorder and helped build a balanced staff devoted to improving bee management and bee health. He did this while maintaining a strong research program focused on queen and colony traits and managing bees for pollination. Drs. Judy Chen and Jay Evans will serve consecutive 120-day terms as Acting Research Leader of the BRL, prior to the naming of a new Research Leader for the group. Through this process the BRL will remain focused on maintaining close collaborations and connections with the beekeeping community as we all strive to reduce the impacts of stress and disease on bees.
A Note From Jeff Pettis
Dear Colleagues and Friends,
I would like to address the recent decision by ARS to change the leadership of the Beltsville Bee Laboratory. While I have strong reservations about this decision, I do not wish to challenge it. The truth is I have been stretched too thin over the past few years to meet all the demands of the Research Leader position and my own research. The administrative aspects of my job as Research Leader have suffered because my research took precedence over administrative responsibilities. I am looking forward to a full return to an applied research agenda focusing on addressing your concerns as stakeholders.
Looking toward the future direction and leadership of the lab, it is important that you, the stakeholders have a direct line of communication to the decision makers who drive the research agenda. I am very proud of the relationship I have built with the industry and feel this is crucial to meeting your needs through research. Please continue to be a strong voice with ARS.
I appreciate the tremendous outpouring of support from all of you and I look forward to working with you as before. As always, I will continue to conduct research with the stakeholders' best interests in mind.
I thank you for the support and I look forward to our continued partnership in addressing beekeeping and pollinator health issues.
National Honey Board Calls for Research Proposals to Seek Ways to Increase U.S. Honey Production
Firestone, Colo., July 1, 2014 – The National Honey Board has issued a call for research proposals to study how to increase U.S. honey production. The goal of the study will be to provide the National Honey Board as well as the U.S. honey and beekeeping industry with possible strategies and action steps to proactively address ways of increasing U.S. honey production.
“Many ideas have been mentioned as possible causes of declining honey production,” said Bruce Boynton, CEO of the National Honey Board. “This project could take any one of several directions, from looking into declining forage, changes in agricultural crops, re-seeding with crops that are less favorable to honey production, and challenges to maintaining the health of the honeybees.”
The deadline for proposals is October 15, 2014. Proposals will be reviewed and considered for funding in the Board’s calendar year 2015 budget.
The National Honey Board is an industry-funded agriculture promotion group that works to educate consumers about the benefits and uses for honey and honey products through research, marketing and promotional programs.
The Costly Lobbying War Over America's Dying Honeybees
By Clare Foran
The insect world's biggest murder mystery is moving to K Street.
Honeybees—pollinators that serve as the matchmakers of the floral kingdom—are dying off in droves, frightening environmentalists and scientists who fear the unfilled natural niche that collapsing bee colonies leave behind. Those concerns hit the national stage last month when President Obama launched a federal investigation to find out what is driving the decline.
All of that has made the pesticide industry nervous. Environmentalists have long argued that a widely used class of pesticides known as neonicotinoids, or neonics for short, are a major cause of bee die-offs. And green groups are hoping that White House attention—combined with a growing body of scientific evidence that points the finger at chemical crop treatments—will lead to an all-out ban on the pesticides.
For the industry, that would be a major dent in sales. In 2009, neonics accounted for $2.6 billion in profits industry-wide.
In an effort to protect their product, pesticide makers are loading up on high-powered lobbyists. Bayer, the largest manufacturer of neonics, has signed former House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt's firm to lobby on the issue, according to disclosure records filed at the end of June. Gephardt himself is listed as a lobbyist for the company, along with his former chief of staff, Thomas O'Donnell, and aide Sharon Daniels.
Bayer also signed a contract in April with Cornerstone Government Affairs as part of its honeybee lobbying push.
A Bayer spokesperson declined to comment on the message its lobbyists plan to push. But the company confirmed that it recently hired both lobbying firms, and its line on pesticides has been well-publicized.
"Some critics contend that neonicotinoids may be involved in honeybee losses," Bayer's website proclaims. "However, there has been no demonstrated effect on colony health associated with neonicotinoid-based insecticides."
In addition to its honeybee lobbying, Bayer has launched a public-relations offensive. The chemical giant opened the doors to its North American Bee Care Center in North Carolina in April. And last month, Bayer hosted a reception for members of Congress in Washington to talk about its efforts to help honeybees during National Pollinator Week.
Bayer isn't the only pesticides maker fixing for a fight. Syngenta, the second-largest neonic manufacturer, is registered to lobby on pesticides. A Syngenta spokesperson said the company actively discusses "the pollinator issue" with government officials.
The lobbying push is backed by deep pockets. Bayer ponied up more than $2 million for all of its lobbying efforts in the first quarter of the year, according to lobbying disclosure records. Syngenta, meanwhile, paid out $350,000 in the same interval for total lobbying expenditures.
Environmentalists and public-health and food-safety advocates are also shelling out to make the case that pesticides are killing honeybees, but have spent considerably less cash. The Center for Food Safety, which lobbies against neonics, spent only $10,000 total on lobbying efforts in the first quarter of the year. Friends of the Earth, an environmental group, which contends neonics are the leading cause of bee deaths, spent just under $13,000 in the fourth quarter of last year.
As long as the cause of the declines remains in question, both sides will continue to make their case to the administration and on Capitol Hill. "This issue isn't going away, and what we're starting to see now is lobbying efforts really ramp up," Larissa Walker, the policy and campaign coordinator with the Center for Food Safety said.
The Environmental Protection Agency, which is reviewing neonics, has indicated that it views the link between pesticides and honeybee deaths as far from settled science.
A five-year scientific review of the academic literature released last month reported that pollinators are "highly vulnerable" to neonics. Environmentalists seized on the study as the latest evidence that the chemicals are killing bees.
Pesticide manufacturers, however, say that's simply not true, pointing instead to a host of other factors as likely reasons for a recent decline in native bee populations. One of those factors is the varroa mite, a parasite that preys on bees by drinking their blood.
Democratic Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon has put forward legislation that would require EPA to halt use of the pesticides until a conclusive determination over the link between pesticides and bee health has been either established or disproved. The legislation has little chance of passing, but the European Union has already instituted a temporary, two-year ban on the use of the pesticides, and green groups are hoping the U.S. will do the same.
Meanwhile, bee declines continue at an alarming rate.
Starting in 2006, commercial beekeepers in the U.S. began reporting a loss of nearly one-third of their hives during the winter. Losses last winter were lower than they have been on average during the past eight years. But scientists, beekeepers, and green groups say the rate of decline remains alarmingly high.
Researchers have struggled to explain the insect epidemic, but generally cite stressors—including pesticides, parasites, poor nutrition, and genetics—as likely reasons for the decline.
Pollination is essential to the survival of crops such as apples, avocados, and lemons. Last month, the White House said bee pollination produces $15 billion worth of agricultural yields annually.
"We're at a crisis point here," said Lisa Archer, the food and technology program director for Friends of the Earth. "The question now is whether we're going to listen to the alarm bells that are going off."
This article appears in the July 2, 2014 edition of NJ Daily.
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