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The materials and information included in this Latest News page are provided as a service to you and do not reflect endorsement by the American Honey Producers Association (AHPA). The content and opinions expressed within the page are those of the authors and are not necessarily shared by AHPA. AHPA is not responsible for the accuracy of information provided from outside sources.





Insecticide can hamper yield increase from bees in soybeans

By Andy Michel and Reed Johnson, Ohio State University

Although soybean aphids remain at low levels, Reed Johnson and Andy Michel, two Ohio State University researchers are concerned that many growers are going to add insecticides to spray tanks when applying fungicides.

“Well, I’m going over the field anyway so I thought I’d add an insecticide for insurance purposes! The insecticide is relatively cheap and soybeans are worth so much!” is what researchers say they hear from farmers this time of year.

The researchers are clear that they do not recommend this practice, and feel an IPM approach is much better for everyone and everything, including the environment. They do not recommend an insecticide application unless there is a need.

However, the researchers realize that this is being done. Both agree that growers and custom applicators need to protect bees when spraying insecticides on soybeans (or any crop or insect pest for that matter).

The need to do this is present whether the insecticide is being sprayed for an actual pest, or when being sprayed for “insurance purposes!”

Remember that most insecticides have a caution statement on their label about spraying around bees and blooming crops. The typical statement is: “This product is highly toxic to bees exposed to direct treatment or residues on blooming crops or weeds. Do not apply this product or allow it to drift to blooming crops or weeds if bees are actively visiting the treatment area.”

How often do bees visit soybeans?  Soybeans bloom flowers produce a very sweet nectar that, depending on conditions, can be highly attractive to bees.

However, it can be difficult to appreciate how much foraging is really occurring because both the bees and flowers are hidden below the canopy.  In a survey of honey produced in the summer of 2014 soybean pollen was found in nearly half of honey samples—a strong indication that bees are indeed foraging in soybean fields.

Further, bee pollination has been shown to increase soybean yield by as much as 18 percent in some studies, so it really can be counterproductive to risk killing bees visiting soybeans with an “insurance” application of insecticide.

Many states address this concern.  In Ohio, the department of agriculture by making it clear that no one should apply or cause to be applied any pesticide that is required to carry a special warning on its label indicating that it is toxic to honey bees, over an area of one-half acre or more in which the crop-plant is in flower unless the owner or caretaker of any apiary located within one-half mile of the treatment site has been notified by the person no less than twenty-four hours in advance of the intended treatment; provided the apiary is registered and that the apiary has been posted with the name and telephone number of the owner or responsible caretaker.

The ODA also makes it clear that producers should not apply pesticides which are hazardous to honey bees at times when pollinating insects are actively working in the target area; however, application of calyx sprays on fruits and other similar applications may be made.

Growers and applicators are encouraged to maintain good communications with bee keepers near their fields to prevent and limit unintended problems.

Explore the BIP Database

Written By: Michael Wilson

There is a new link on our homepage titled “Explore!”. Click here to explore the ever growing Bee Informed Partnership Database. Here we have new, interactive pages that allow you to view detailed honey bee health data from survey and sample efforts. You can view yearly, state loss data for the annual loss survey in an interactive map. Then, you can look at differences in loss levels based on management practices, filtering to any year or state of interest. Interested in pest levels found in your state? On our ‘State Reports’ page you can explore USDA APHIS honey bee survey data to find out varroa and nosema levels, viruses found, and pesticide sample analysis nationally, yearly, or by sampled state. Finally, you can enter your own varroa levels in a new interactive program called MiteCheck. These new features are just the beginning of a new strategy to turn the Bee Informed Partnership data collection and reporting system into a self service, online, interactive experience to both collect data and provide insight into the forces effecting honey bee health on a national scale.


Colony Loss Map

Stay tuned for the 2015-2016 state loss data, but until then explore state loss levels at this link all the way back to 2007-08 when the honey bee winter loss survey began with the Apiary Inspectors of America.

The state loss map with Tennessee selected for total loss, in the winter of 2014-15.

The interactive map shows state losses as a heat map with higher losses being darker red. You can select the year of interest and if you want to look at winter loss, annual loss, or summer loss. You can also look at either Average Loss or Total Loss. Total loss looks at the number of colonies reported on and gives you a percent of all reported colonies lost while Average Loss is a calculation of the loss experienced by an ‘average beekeeper’ in that state.

There is a table below the map that filters out to the states surrounding any state you select. Here you can find details about how many beekeepers reported, the number of colonies represented, and the number of colonies exclusive to that state. For migratory operations, their loss gets reflected in each state they operate in, so use these numbers to weigh in on if the state’s Total Loss is heavily influenced by a few large beekeepers. In those cases, you may want to look at Average Loss where each beekeeper carries the same weight, irregardless of how many colonies they operate

Management Survey

For years now with the honey bee loss survey, we have been asking beekeepers what they do to bring insight into why losses are so high. We can’t really prove any causative effects through a survey, but we can look at patterns and correlations to give us good directions on where we should direct our efforts as beekeepers and researchers. In the past, those reports have been generated from the database in static .pdf files here. That worked out OK to look at individual issues in a single year, but is cumbersome to look at the same question over multiple years. We have now rectified that by providing a new, database explorer linked here to interactively filter based on year, state, operation size, and a number of questions.

The survey database explorer comparing the level of colony loss based on operation size for all years and all states. Changing the check boxes to fewer years or states will filter the graph based on your selections.

Now, you can select a number of products beekeepers use and compare beekeepers that use those selected products to those whom did not. You can then filter that to any year, or only the states you are interested in. In addition to getting the level of loss, you can also simply see how many people use a particular product or feeding practices. If you’re a backyard beekeeper and don’t see how commercial beekeepers are comparable to what you are doing, then just filter to backyard beekeepers only. However, as you can see in the screenshot I pasted in here, backyard beekeepers often have higher losses than commercial and sideline beekeepers. Therefore, you might also try filtering only on those groups to see what they are using as well.

You won’t see the checkbox filters as the page loads to save on space. You will need to click on the button to ‘Show Filters’ to see them, so be sure to do that if you want to explore more deeply. Also, be sure to note that these loss levels are reported as Average Loss, or the loss experienced by the average beekeeper of the selected filters. Therefore, the loss you see can be quite different and higher the the usual Total Loss numbers we usually use to report overall national losses. The ‘Survey Year’ is the year in which we conducted the survey. So, 2015 is the winter of 2014-15.

State Reports

The newest addition to the new database experience, is the USDA APHIS State Reports page here. This page provides a very in-depth look at APHIS National Honey Bee Survey data collected since 2009 in collaboration with state apiary inspectors. I hope to provide a more detailed article about this feature at a later date, but for now here are the basics.

Pesticide effects on honey bees is an area of great interest, but relatively little information perhaps due to the expense surrounding taking samples. In the APHIS survey, to date, 763 samples have been processed giving us the most comprehensive look at the level of pesticides found in colonies that we have. You now have access to what pesticides have been found, their prevalence, and where they were found through the individual state reports. Since these samples were not taken as a response to a loss event, we consider this data, and all the data in the APHIS survey, random samples, or the average levels found, providing baseline information about what US colonies experience.


I hope you learn a lot exploring our database, but why not go a little further? You too can provide data through our surveys, sample monitoring programs, and now in collaboration with the University of Minnesota and Michigan State, you can enter varroa level information and compare it to other respondents in a new interactive page called MiteCheck linked here.

MiteCheck refers to sample kits developed by the Bee Squad of University of Minnesota. These kits provide everything you need to take a varroa sample and conduct a powdered sugar shake to asses the level of varroa infestation. To complement that, we now have this page to collect that data you are generating with your MiteCheck kit. If you don’t have a MiteCheck kit, you can still enter powdered sugar varroa assessments anyway, but the kit provides instructions to do it right.

We are looking for funding to expand the MiteCheck program, so hopefully you will see an increase in the functionality of this page in the future. MiteCheck is the first example of the Bee Informed Partnership Database as a platform for additional interactive bee health initiatives funded through other sources. The original USDA-NIFA grant funding the Bee Informed Partnership expires in December of this year. One of its legacies is a platform for new and continued bee health data collection and dissemination. Your participation and support will continue that effort with rewards in more depth and data based understanding of bee health.


Leading insecticide cuts bee sperm by almost 40%, study shows

Discovery provides possible explanation for increasing deaths of honeybees in recent years, according to scientists

 Wednesday 27 July 2016 01.00 EDT

By Damian Carrington

The world’s most widely used insecticide is an inadvertent contraceptive for bees, cutting live sperm in males by almost 40%, according to research. The study also showed the neonicotinoid pesticides cut the lifespan of the drones by a third.

The scientists say the discovery provides one possible explanation for the increasing deaths of honeybees in recent years, as well as for the general decline of wild insect pollinators throughout the northern hemisphere.

Bees and other insects are vital for pollinating three-quarters of the world’s food crops but have been in significant decline, due to the loss of flower-rich habitats, disease and pests and the use of pesticides.

Neonicotinoids were banned from use on flowering crops in the EU in 2013. The UK opposed the ban and allowed a limited “emergency” lifting of the ban in 2015, but has refused further suspensions this year. There is clear scientific evidence that neonicotinoids harm bees, but there is only a little research showing the pesticides harm the overall performance of colonies.

Previous work has shown that neonicotinoids reduce the number of bumblebee queens produced and severely cuts the survival and reproduction of honeybee queens. But the new research, led by Lars Straub at the University of Bern, Switzerland and published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, is the first to test how neonicotinoids affect male bee fertility.

They exposed drones to the levels of two neonicotinoids, thiamethoxam and clothianidin, seen in fields, and found that they had on average 39% less living sperm compared with unexposed bees. “Any influence on sperm quality may have profound consequences for the fitness of the queen, as well as the entire colony,” said the researchers.

Queen bees perform mating flights soon after emerging to collect and store sperm from multiple males, which is then used for reproduction over the queen’s lifetime. The drones reach sexual maturity at 14 days, but the researchers found 32% of the exposed drones were dead by then, and therefore unable to mate, compared to 17% of the unexposed controls.

“This could have severe consequences for colony fitness, as well as reduce overall genetic variation within honeybee populations,” the scientists said.

The researchers also found that exposed drones lived for 15 days compared to 22 days for the controls. They concluded: “For the first time, we have demonstrated that frequently employed neonicotinoid insecticides can elicit important lethal and sub-lethal effects on non-target, beneficial male insects; this may have broad population-level implications.”

Peter Campbell, from Syngenta, the company that makes thiamethoxam, said the new research was interesting. However, he noted that the sperm quality of all the drones in the study was reduced, compared to earlier work. “Given the multiple mating of honeybee queens it is unclear what the consequences of a reduction in sperm quality would actually have on queen fecundity,” he said.

Christopher Connolly, at the University of Dundee and not part of the research team, said: “This study is important, as failures in honeybee queen mating is reported to be a growing problem for beekeepers.”

He added: “Although the insecticide levels used in this study are realistic, it is unclear whether both neonicotinoids are commonly consumed together at these levels.

“Therefore, it will be important to investigate the impact of the neonicotinoids separately. Importantly, this study demonstrates the complexity of the possible consequences from chronic exposure to pesticides and these are not assessed during safety testing. Therefore, this study further supports the need to adopt the precautionary principle on neonicotinoids.”



Author: Maryanne Keeney, MKPR, 617-848-8805 @mayne,

Company: Harbor Sweets Inc.

SALEM, MA – (June 2016) – The newest Harbor Sweets® small batch chocolate line, Gather, will support a cause critical to the environment: protecting honeybees. The purpose-driven chocolates are presented as a flight of six distinct taste experiences unified by dark chocolate and a subtle note of local wildflower honey. A portion of sales will be donated to the Pollinator Partnership, a 501c3 NGO that educates and advocates best beekeeping practices for honeybee protection. Gather will debut at New York’s 2016 Summer Fancy Food Show (Booth #4802) June 26-28.

“Harbor Sweets chocolates have always been rooted in telling stories about our coastline and nature,” explains Phyllis LeBlanc, owner and CEO of Harbor Sweets. “With Gather we continue to expand and create the best chocolates ever while committing our brand influence to addressing a very serious reality– the alarming decimation of honeybees and other pollinators. This has become perilous not just to cacao growing but to all agriculture, and we hope to change that trend by becoming part of the solution.”

Stinging Statistics: USDA Reports 44% Decline Loss of Honeybees 2015-16

Gather’s launch with its purpose-driven mission comes on the heels of a USDA Report in which pesticides and parasites are cited as causing an alarming 44% loss of honeybee colonization in just one year. This is the second highest annual loss reported in the past 10 years worldwide. Honeybee pollinators add more than $15 billion to America’s agricultural economy and are critical to the entire agricultural eco-system.[1]

Gather’s Gold Honeycomb Box Distinct for Consumers, Retailers

The new gold honeycomb-shaped package ensures that Gather chocolates can be easily spotted in gift shops and specialty food stores that curate chocolate and honey product collections. Inside are six individual honey-infused chocolates: three truffles Caramelized Honey, Pomegranate Molasses, and Sour Cherry, with three enrobed covered dark chocolates: Cashew Caramel, Coconut Cluster and Sesame Crunch. A six-piece box is $12.50 and 12-piece box is $18.50 MSRP.

About Harbor Sweets® – An American chocolate tradition since 1973, Harbor Sweets produces handcrafted artisan chocolates from its original historic red brick building in Salem, Massachusetts. It uses only the finest and freshest ingredients to make its delicious chocolates including its iconic Sweet Sloops®, first created by Founder Ben Strohecker. Harbor Sweets’ collectible gift packages celebrate coastal New England, and lines Salt & Ayre and Dark Horse Chocolates are sold coast to coast and shipped worldwide. It has been recognized for years as one of the top women led businesses in Massachusetts.

Twitter: @harborsweets; Instagram: HarborSweetsHandmadeChocolates



 A Message From ECDYSIS Foundation


The only way to reverse declining bee populations is to reform how farms are managed. Monoculture farming operations reduce bee forage and increase exposure to harmful pesticides. A regenerative model of agriculture will promote biodiversity and soil health, while making farmers more profitable. The goal of Ecdysis Foundation and the Blue Dasher Farm Initiative is to promote regenerative farming, with particular emphasis on bee conservation. We are trying to connect with large-scale (more than 50 acres) conventional producers and develop strategies for changing the future of their farms for the benefit of both pollinators and the farmer’s pocketbooks.

An integral part of what we do at ECDYSIS Foundation is focused on pollinator health and habitat. How do we conserve bees on working agricultural land? The principles that we use to improve honeybee habitat on farms is specially tailored to each farmer’s situation (soil type, climate, location, personal goals, etc.). However, there are a few central themes:

  • Replace costly synthetic chemical use with natural biological control.
  • Reduce or eliminate tillage and other soil disturbances.
  • Diversify plant community through use of cover crops, pollinator strips and an expanded crop rotations.

We are looking for farmers and beekeepers that would consider partnering with us at ECDYSIS Foundation to change the way we treat land while producing food profitably. The best way to promote bee friendly, regenerative farms is to work directly with farmers. Using the expertise of our skilled agroecologists we will work closely with land managers to synthesize detailed plans of action on a field by field basis, meeting farmer’s goals and pursuing conservation. These action plans will be used as guidelines, assisting land stewards toward constructing a healthy farmscape capable of sustaining abundant life, with a particular emphasis on honeybees.

We have the skills, we have the drive, we have a plan, but we need the land. If you are interested in preserving pollinator habitat, building diversity, and farming intelligently then please help us recruit farmers for this program.

Many thanks,

Michael Bredeson, MSc

Dr. Jonathan Lundgren, PhD

ECDYSIS Foundation

46958 188th Street

Estelline, SD, 57234

Cell: 605-695-9878


The latest buzz on Honey’s non-GMO status.

Pure natural honey is, by definition, a non-GMO food.  It’s that simple!

Today's consumers rely on many sources for information on their diet and food choices. Perhaps the most frequently consulted, but least reliable, source is the internet - where everyone can be an 'expert' on their chosen subject.  Gluten-free, raw, local, vegetarian and non-GMO are currently among the food topics most often discussed.

Regarding a non-GMO diet, some of the main questions being asked of the honey industry are:

“Is honey free of GMOs?”

Answer: The FDA discourages the use of the term “GMO Free” because all food items may contain trace amounts of GMOs. The European Union, Australia and other countries have established thresholds for their GMO labeling laws. The regulations require all food items which contain more than 0.9% GMOs to declare GMO contents on the labels. Honey is not required to be identified or labeled as a non-GMO food because GMO’s in honey never exceed this threshold. Honey, as most other foods, may not be completely GMO free, but it is a non-GMO food according to the standards established by the European Union, Australia and other countries.

“I am on a non-GMO diet. Can I eat honey?”

Answer: Pure honey can be introduced into a non-GMO diet and not only will you maintain your personal nutritional choices, but you will receive all the wonderful benefits honey has to offer.

“If honey is not Certified as non-GMO, does that mean it may contain GMOs?

Answer: Although some interest groups and organizations appear to complicate the issue, the simple truth is this: honey qualifies as a non-GMO food. It does not require any type of certification in order to be classified as a non-GMO food item. Some companies choose to have their honey certified as “non-GMO” by independent organizations, but in terms of GMO content, honey certified as non-GMO is not superior to any other non-certified pure honey.

“Can trace GMOs be eliminated from honey by monitoring bee forage areas?”

Answer: It is not realistically possible to monitor all honey bee forage areas, or to create a GMO-free forage zone. Even if a GMO-free zone were to be established, bees can travel great distances, and neighboring bees could enter the GMO-free zone and distribute pollen containing GMOs onto non-GMO crops.

To better understand the basics of GMOs, here are the FDA definitions on the subject: "Genetic modification" is defined as the alteration of the genotype of a plant using any technique, new or traditional. "Modification“ refers to the alteration in the composition of food that results from adding, deleting, or changing hereditary traits, irrespective of the method.

This definition is provided by an independent certification organization:

“GMOs (or “genetically modified organisms”) are living organisms whose genetic material has been artificially manipulated in a laboratory through genetic engineering, or GE. This relatively new science creates unstable combinations of plant, animal,  bacterial and viral genes that do not occur in nature or through traditional crossbreeding methods.”

So how are these definitions applicable to Honey?

Honey is a food produced by bees from the nectar of plants.  Honey is not a plant and there are no known species of genetically engineered (GE) honeybees. The definitions support honey’s established status as a non-GMO food item.

Here are just a few of the facts about honey as a non-GMO food:

  • No genetically modified honeybees exist
  • Honey is made by bees from the nectar of plants
  • Honey is not a food that has been artificially manipulated in a laboratory
  • The amount of pollen in honey ranges from about 0.1% to 0.4%
  • On average, pollen in honey contains about 0.2% protein. GMO markers may be found only in the protein
  • Any trace of GMO’s in honey, therefore, will fall far below the 0.9% threshold established by countries around the world as requiring GMO labeling

In the US, there are no current national GMO labeling requirements.  Moreover, the state of Vermont enacted legislation in 2016, which clearly excludes foods from any GMO labeling requirement when the food is “consisting of or derived entirely from an animal that is itself not produced with genetic engineering, regardless of whether the animal has been fed or injected with any food, drug, or other substance produced with genetic  engineering”.

Honey bees, beekeepers and the honey industry are direct contributors to the success of American and world agriculture. In today’s world, the honey industry faces many problems such as hive loss, drought, colony collapse and shrinking forage

areas.  Fortunately, honey’s position as a pure and natural food is unchallenged. Produced by bees from the nectar of plants, honey is a non-GMO food, the purest of nature’s sweets.

This message is supported by the American Beekeeping Federation, American Honey Producers Association, National Honey Packer & Dealers Association, Sioux Honey Association and the Western States Packers & Dealers Association.  As a collective group, these organizations represent approximately 95% of the entire United States Honey Industry

References: lingNutrition/ucm059098.htm room/content/20140110IPR32407/html/Parliament-clarifies-labelling-rules-for-honey-if- contaminated-by-GM-pollen


Bees' ability to forage decreases as air pollution increases

By Liam Jackson

July 6, 2016

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Air pollutants interact with and break down plant-emitted scent molecules, which insect pollinators use to locate needed food, according to a team of researchers led by Penn State.  The pollution-modified plant odors can confuse bees and, as a result, bees' foraging time increases and pollination efficiency decreases. This happens because the chemical interactions decrease both the scent molecules' life spans and the distances they travel.

While foraging for food, insects detect floral scent molecules in the air. Wind currents can carry these molecules up to thousands of feet from their original source to where bees have their hives.

"Many insects have nests that are up to 3,000 feet away from their food source, which means that scents need to travel long distances before insects can detect them," said Jose D. Fuentes, professor of meteorology and atmospheric science, Penn State. "Each insect has a detection threshold for certain kinds of scents and they find food by moving from areas of low concentrations of scents to areas of high concentrations."

Plant-emitted hydrocarbons break down through chemical interactions with certain air pollutants such as ozone. This breakdown process results in the creation of more air pollutants, including hydroxyl and nitrate radicals, which further increase the breakdown rate of plant odors.

The researchers sought to understand how these chemical interactions, which start with the presence of air pollutants, would impact bees' ability to find food. They first estimated the changes in concentrations of flower scents as a result of air turbulence and chemical interactions using a computer simulation, which allowed them to track the concentration and movement of multiple plumes of scents from different flower beds over time. Then, the researchers ran 90,000 simulations representing various bees' foraging and movement patterns amid differing scent levels modified by air pollution and diluted by wind speeds.

The team reported in the current issue of Atmospheric Environment that, as air pollution increases, hydrocarbons' lifetime and travel distance decreases. For example, at 60 parts per billion ozone levels, which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency considers a 'moderate' level, the researchers found that enough chemical changes took place to thoroughly confuse bees and hinder their ability to identify the plumes of floral scents they needed to locate food.

The scent molecule alpha-pinene, which survives nearly 40 hours in an ozone-free environment, survived fewer than 10 hours when ozone rose to 60 parts per billion and only 1 hour when ozone was at 120 parts per billion. Another molecule, beta-myrcene, which travels more than 3,000 feet in an ozone-free, windy environment, traveled an average of 1,500 feet when ozone was 60 parts per billion and, when ozone rose to 120 parts per billion, most traveled fewer than 1,000 feet.

The changes in air chemistry impacted the number of bees able to detect food sources in a given time frame. In an ozone-free environment, it took 10 minutes for 20 percent of foragers to find the scent molecule beta-caryophyllene. When ozone rose to only 20 parts per billion, it took 180 minutes for the same amount of bees to find the scent. The team found similar results for the six different scent molecules they analyzed.

"We found that when we confused the bees' environment by modifying the gases present in the atmosphere, they spent more time foraging and would bring back less food, which would affect their colonies," said Fuentes. "It's similar to being asked to get a cup of coffee at the nearest cafeteria while you are blindfolded. It will be hard to locate the coffee shop without using visual cues. The same could happen to insect pollinators while foraging for food in polluted air masses."

Because the concentration of scents changes drastically in air polluted environments, this could impact important interactions between plants and insects.

"There are two types of pollinators, generalists and specialists," said Fuentes. "Generalists can detect a mixture of scents, while specialists can only detect one type of scent. This means that as certain scents decrease their travel distance and life span, specialists and generalists may both have trouble finding food."

Declines in the pollination of wild plants may lead to increases in the population of plants that do not rely on pollinators, and pollinator declines would lead to decreases in crop yields, Fuentes noted.

These findings highlight that air pollution is one of many factors influencing the decline of the bee population. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, managed honeybee populations in the U.S. have declined between 25 and 45 percent per year since 2010, including a 44 percent decline from 2015 to 2016.

"Honeybees and other pollinators are in trouble almost everywhere, and they pay us a lot of services through their pollination," said Fuentes. "The more we can understand about what factors are affecting their decline in numbers, the more equipped we will be to intervene if needed."

Bicheng Chen and Kenneth Pratt, Penn State; Marcelo Chamecki, University of California, Los Angeles; and T'ai Roulston, University of Virginia, collaborated on this research.

The National Science Foundation and the Penn State Institutes of Energy and the Environment supported this research.


Bayer increases Monsanto offer and provides certainty on financing and regulatory matters. But what will happen to the bees?

July 16, 2016

Monsanto all-cash offer increased to USD 125 per share on July 1 after additional information received in private discussions / Bayer has comprehensively addressed Monsanto’s questions concerning financing of the transaction / In addition to certain commitments to regulators possibly required, Bayer has offered a USD 1.5 billion reverse antitrust break fee, reaffirming its confidence to successfully close / The revised offer retains compelling value creation potential for Bayer shareholders / Bayer remains fully committed to pursuing this transaction

Leverkusen, July 14, 2016 – Over the past several weeks Bayer has engaged in private talks with Monsanto. Following receipt of additional information Bayer has raised its all-cash offer to Monsanto shareholders from USD 122 to USD 125 per share verbally on July 1 and in an updated proposal submitted to Monsanto on July 9. In addition, it has comprehensively addressed Monsanto’s questions concerning financing and regulatory matters and is prepared to make certain commitments to regulators, if required, to complete the proposed acquisition of Monsanto.

Bayer reaffirmed that its offer provides transaction certainty and would not be subject to a financing condition. A Syndicated Loan Facility Agreement sufficient to provide the entire transaction financing is ready and prepared to be co-underwritten by five banks (BofA Merrill Lynch, Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs, HSBC and JP Morgan).

Bayer remains confident in its ability to obtain all necessary regulatory approvals in a timely manner given complementary geographic and product portfolios. In addition to certain commitments to regulators, should they be required, Bayer has offered a USD 1.5 billion reverse antitrust break fee, reaffirming its confidence in a successful closing.

“We are convinced that this transaction is the best opportunity available to provide Monsanto shareholders with highly attractive, immediate and certain value. Bayer is fully committed to pursuing this transaction,” said Werner Baumann, CEO of Bayer AG.

Bayer believes that its offer fully captures the intrinsic value of Monsanto, and shares the synergy benefits that the combination would create. The revised offer represents a premium of 40 percent over Monsanto’s closing share price on May 9, 2016.


Neonicotinoid-contaminated pollinator strips adjacent to cropland reduce honey bee nutritional status

Christina L. Mogren

 & Jonathan G. Lundgren

 Scientific Reports 6, Article number: 29608 (2016)

doi:10.1038/srep29608 Abstract

Worldwide pollinator declines are attributed to a number of factors, including pesticide exposures. Neonicotinoid insecticides specifically have been detected in surface waters, non-target vegetation, and bee products, but the risks posed by environmental exposures are still not well understood. Pollinator strips were tested for clothianidin contamination in plant tissues, and the risks to honey bees assessed. An enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) quantified clothianidin in leaf, nectar, honey, and bee bread at organic and seed-treated farms. Total glycogen, lipids, and protein from honey bee workers were quantified. The proportion of plants testing positive for clothianidin were the same between treatments. Leaf tissue and honey had similar concentrations of clothianidin between organic and seed-treated farms. Honey (mean±SE: 6.61 ± 0.88 ppb clothianidin per hive) had seven times greater concentrations than nectar collected by bees (0.94 ± 0.09 ppb). Bee bread collected from organic sites (25.8 ± 3.0 ppb) had significantly less clothianidin than those at seed treated locations (41.6 ± 2.9 ppb). Increasing concentrations of clothianidin in bee bread were correlated with decreased glycogen, lipid, and protein in workers. This study shows that small, isolated areas set aside for conservation do not provide spatial or temporal relief from neonicotinoid exposures in agricultural regions where their use is largely prophylactic.

Worldwide pollinator declines have sparked controversy and debates regarding the specific causes of these declines, especially in managed honey bees (Apidae: Apis mellifera)1,2,3. The phenomenon termed colony collapse disorder (CCD) is hypothesized to result from a number of factors including diseases and parasites, in-hive and environmental pesticide exposure, reduced access to quality forage, and changing cultural practices of beekeeping4,5,6. Insecticide exposure, especially to the neonicotinoids, has garnered much attention in recent years, prompting a two-year moratorium by the European Union on their use in flowering crops1, reductions on their use in corn and soy in Ontario, Canada2, and the United States Environmental Protection Agency to enact guidelines limiting pollinator exposures in treated cropland.

However, widespread and prophylactic use of neonicotinoids and other pesticides in the United States7,8 as a result of policy-driven changes in agronomic practices9, particularly in the Upper Midwest, has resulted in decreased access to forage10 (with the removal of vegetation surrounding fields to maximize crop production) and increased risk of neonicotinoid exposure for the majority of the nation’s honey bees during the months of honey production.

Understanding the environmental fate of neonicotinoids improves our perceptions of environmental risks posed by this class of insecticides. Only 2–20% of the active ingredient on treated crop seeds is taken into the developing plant11, and recent data suggests that the remaining majority of the compound is not staying within cropland12,13,14,15,16,17,18. Soil half-lives vary greatly between chemical forms and they may remain for years after initial application (e.g. thiamethoxam: 25–100 days19, clothianidin: 148–1,155 days20). Clothianidin, thiamethoxam, and imidacloprid have been detected in major waterways and wetlands that drain agricultural areas14,16, implicating runoff events in creating long-term exposure scenarios for aquatic organisms. Residues have also been documented in non-target plants adjacent to treated areas12,13,15,18, which serve as critical forage for honey bees and other pollinators. Pesticides are often detected in nectar, honey, pollen, and beeswax17, indicating that contaminated forage provides a potential route of exposure to bees.

With some exceptions, researchers have had difficulty showing field-relevant exposures to neonicotinoids having an appreciable effect on honey bee colony performance4,21, and the levels that have been detected in plants and bee products are arguably not high enough to induce acute mortality in honey bees (thiamethoxam: oral LD50 = 5 ng/bee, clothianidin: oral LD50 = 4 ng/bee22, but see Henry, et al.21]). However, sublethal effects have been observed in bees at field realistic exposures resulting in impaired foraging behavior23,24, decreased reproductive capacity23,25,26,27, and synergistic interactions with other stressors such as pathogens28,29. A typical approach to addressing the effects of pesticides on honey bees has mostly focused on endpoints of colony performance, as honey bees are managed as colonies for honey production and pollination services. High annual losses in the United States30 have been difficult to attribute to neonicotinoids specifically, but sublethal impairment to exposed foragers as measured by nutrient status may be useful in identifying mechanisms by which losses are indirectly sustained, particularly in winter31. Here, we applied measures of glycogen, lipid, and protein levels as proxies for individual bee health, which have been used previously to effectively quantify nutrient status in other insect species (see Pumariño, et al.32 and references therein).

Initially, the aim of this study was to determine whether increasing forage by planting pollinator strips in a corn and soy dominated region would serve to buffer against harmful effects of plant-incorporated pesticides, specifically the neonicotinoids, with organic corn fields serving as controls. However, when it became apparent that an unintended consequence of planting pollinator strips adjacent to treated cropland meant that they became a source for neonicotinoid exposure, the goal shifted to determine whether pollinator strips were themselves harmful to the bees. The objectives of the present study were to 1) evaluate the presence of clothianidin in pollinator strips near treated cropland, 2) quantify the amounts of clothianidin in floral tissues, and 3) determine whether accumulated levels pose a significant risk to honey bees.

The paradox of the present study is that pollinator strips intended to enhance honey bee health in a heavily developed agricultural landscape resulted in declining bee health due to unintended accumulation of clothianidin from adjacent treated corn fields at both organic and conventional farms. Although pollinator strips on organic farms were generally more than 140 m from the nearest treated crop (Supplementary Table S1), this was not far enough to fully isolate these strips from negative seed treatment effects. It has been suggested that any harmful exposures resulting from non-target plant uptake of neonicotinoids would be diluted by the fact that honey bees visit numerous flowers on a single foraging expedition54. Dilution would be difficult in highly developed agricultural areas like eastern South Dakota where neonicotinoid seed treatments are ubiquitous. We found that clothianidin uptake was the same at treated and untreated locations, and was present in plant tissues throughout the growing season. The concentrations of clothianidin recovered in bee bread were high enough to impair glycogen and lipid accumulation, with significant implications for overwintering success and reproductive potential of queens. While pollinator strips and uncropped areas have the potential to serve as buffers to pesticide exposures for bees55, our results indicate that their placement within the landscape needs to be carefully considered. In all likelihood, reducing bee exposures to these pesticides will require reductions in their use across the landscape and a movement away from prophylactic applications towards more integrated pest management strategies, as has been suggested elsewhere2

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Cassie Cox
Executive Secretary
PO Box 435
Mendon, UT 84325