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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.

     

Richard Adee
Inducted into South Dakota Hall of Fame Champions for Excellence

            Born  on  December  29, 1935, in Arnold , Nebraska, Richard Adee was introduced early to beekeeping by his father and four uncles. Teachers by trade, they stumbled onto beekeeping as a way to supplement teaching salaries during the depression years. In 1948 Adee's family moved to Kansas, where his father began beekeeping as a full-time occupation Adee became intrigued with the bees, soaking up his family 's knowledge of what worked and what did not work in the keeping of honeybees .

            In 1957 Adee and his brother, Stanley, purchased their first commercial operation in Bruce, South Dakota. They operated 1,600 bee colonies for honey production. In the summer the bees were kept in South Dakota and then were moved to Mississippi in the winter to rebuild and re-queen the hives for the next season. Tragically, Adee lost his brother in a truck accident in 1959. Determined to succeed for his brother, Adee continued on.

            He married his high school sweetheart, Alice Bergstrom, in 1959. Together they worked to grow the company, branching into Cedar Rapids, Nebraska, in 1963 and into Clay Center, Kansas, in 1966. Adee expanded his South Dakota operation northward by purchasing a beekeeping operation in Roscoe in 1984 and westward with the purchases of additional operations in Kimball, Clark and Miller.

            As the honey production side of the company grew, Adee saw opportunity for diversified growth as a paid pollinating company.  Almond   production, for instance, is directly linked to the quality of pollination the blossoms receive from honeybees . So today Adee sends nearly 160 semi truck loads of honeybees to the almond orchards of California each year.  Adee's beekeeping still follows a migratory pattern. Each summer the bees are in South Dakota and the Midwest for honey production . After the honey is harvested in the fall, the bees are moved to California for the almond pollination season. When that is completed, some of the honeybees are sent north to Washington State to pollinate apples, and the rest go to Texas and Mississippi to rebuild and re-queen over the spring months . Then they are returned home to the Midwest to begin the cycle again.

            Today Adee Honey Farms is the largest commercial beekeeping operation in the country, with more than 80,000 bee colonies and nearly one-hundred employees. It operates facilities in five states and places bees in an additional five states for honey production or  to provide pollination services. Adee's two sons, Bret and Kelvin, his daughter, Marla, and three of his grandsons work for the company full-time.

When the industry faced challenges that threatened its survival, including market issues and treatment-resistant bee diseases, Adee sought solutions. To combat market issues, Adee went straight to the lawmakers in Washington,  DC, sharing the problems and the need to make changes. After an uphill battle, he succeeded. Today the International Trade Commission works to uphold anti-dumping laws and to stop illegal imports, stabilizing the market.

            Adee fought for funding for bee research at multiple U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service (USDA ARS) labs and universities. Working closely with state and federal officials as well as chemical companies, he won emergency approval for new treatments to protect honeybee colonies, giving beekeepers across the country a fighting chance to keep the bees alive.

            Adee 's impact in the honey industry has been felt locally, nationally and globally. He has led the way on many issues from state bee laws to international trade laws. His vast knowledge and honest demeanor have opened doors that otherwise may have remained closed to such a small industry

            He  was  a  founding  member  of the  American  Honey Producers Association (AHPA) . He served many years in various roles as the organization 's president , vice president and executive board member. As the AH PA's Legislative Chairman, he worked tirelessly to promote industry issues to lawmakers in Washington. Adee also served on the Executive Board of the American Beekeeping Federation, the South Dakota Beekeepers Advisory Board, Senator Pressler's Agriculture Advisory Board and the USDA Crop Production Review Board, to name a few.

            Additionally, he traveled to Mexico on behalf of the U S. Government to assess and offer his advice on control of the Africanized Honeybee. Participating in a People to People trip to China, he learned about the beekeeping and harvesting practices there and shared American practices. Serving on the National Honey Board, he oversaw marketing campaigns designed to raise honey consumption and increase sales, traveling abroad to open new markets and raise international interest in American honey

            Among the many honors he has received are the South Dakota Beekeeper of the Year, Southern States Beekeepers Appreciation Award , National Honey Board Service Award , Sioux Valley Board of Education Appreciation Award , Community Award from the City of Bruce for making Bruce "A Honey of a Place to Bee," the Pheasants Forever Landowner Conservationist Award , and the USDA ARS Certificate of Appreciation Award for Outstanding Service for the Crop Production Retrospective Review.

            Adee has made a tremendous impact in his community since moving to Bruce in 1 957. He became involved in community events, played on sports teams, and sponsored school and community teams. He donated land for a park and gave significant funds to provide a First Responders vehicle.

            Adee served many years as a high school Sunday School teacher, youth group leader and board member for his local

church, and served as chairman of  the Building Finance Committee for the Brookings Wesleyan Church expansion He served on the local school board for fifteen years, holding a variety of positions including president.

            Adee also owns and manages several apartment complexes in Brookings, South Dakota , and he owns and farms cropland in the Bruce, South Dakota , area

            Richard and Alice Adee recently celebrated their fifty-fifth wedding anniversary. They deeply enjoy spending time with a family of three children and their spouses, ten grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Adee remains actively involved in the company, and he has no plans to retire!

Nominated by Rich Cutler

 

How Bee Deaths Will Actually Make Your Life Worse
Sep 29, 2014
Senator Heidi Heitkamp

September is National Honey Month, and we’re celebrating with a host of sweet stories — from whether honey really works as an antibiotic (it does!) to the merits of honey-based shampoo. But, we’re also highlighting a more serious issue: protecting our bees, without which we’d have no honey — or apples or almonds or any of the other crops that rely on bee pollination to survive. We asked U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp, a Democrat from North Dakota, to tell us more about the issue. She’s a leading advocate of protecting our bees — and the Senate's most skilled honey-pun maker.
As fans nationwide, myself included, are salivating — excuse me — celebrating National Honey Month this September, we are reminded and encouraged to pay homage to our favorite pollinator, the honeybee. And, I’m particularly excited about honeybees, as my home state of North Dakota happens to be the country’s number-one honey producer.

Honeybees are much more than the adorable face of your favorite breakfast cereal or Jerry Seinfeld’s favorite Pixar hero. And, they’re creating a much bigger buzz in the U.S. economy than you might think.

According to the White House, “Honey bee pollination alone adds more than $15 billion in value to agricultural products each year in the United States.” And, with North Dakota as the top producer of their nectar-of-the-month — producing what the National Honey Board says was more than 33 million pounds of honey just last year — our state bees have been, well, busy. And, they aren’t just working for North Dakotans.

North Dakota is also the nation’s top commercial pollinator state. According to the American Honey Producers Association, that means the same North Dakota honeybees that produce about a quarter of America’s honey supply also pollinate the nation’s largest commercial specialty crops — think of your favorite produce at Whole Foods — by sending an army of honeybees to the East and West Coasts annually to pollinate American staples like almonds, apples, and blueberries. In fact, 60% of the nation’s honeybee colonies are needed to pollinate California’s annual almond crop, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service, and industry estimates are as high as 80%.

Without North Dakota honeybees, we wouldn’t get almonds — or any of the other 90 vegetables, fruits, and nuts that make up a third or more of the American diet, say AHPA and the American Beekeeping Federation. As the local food movement has expanded and continues to grow, it’s honeybees that are making it possible for farmers to grow the fruits and vegetables that so many of us eat.

But, our honeybees are in significant danger — and your go-to products at your local grocer or farmers markets could feel the sting. For decades, the honeybee population in the United States has been on the decline. According to the USDA’s ARS, the number of managed U.S. honeybee colonies dropped from five million in the 1940s to just 2.5 million today. And, since 2006, beekeepers even reported startlingly high hive losses, from 30% all the way up to 90%.

Scientists are still studying the problem, but the USDA’s ARS says they have so far attributed these losses to what is known as Colony Collapse Disorder, or CCD, which happens when a queen bee is in the hive, but there are low numbers of or no adult honeybees. A swarm of issues can contribute to CCD, including poor bee nutrition, parasites, pathogens, loss of forage lands, and a lack of genetic diversity and pesticide exposure. In the 1980s, declines in honeybee colony health got a lot worse with the arrival of new pathogens and pests, and the arrival of new mites with viruses in the 1990s didn’t help either.

That’s why I wrote an amendment in the Farm Bill, which Congress passed earlier this year, to direct the U.S. Department of Agriculture to work toward protecting and enhancing our honeybee and pollinator habitats as a part of the conservation programs that producers voluntarily enter into. Basically, the amendment language gives the USDA the kick it needs to make sure conservation programs are both achieving environmental goals as well as giving managed honeybees the high-quality habitat they need — one that includes common alfalfa and types of sweet clover.

And, I’m not the only one getting busy to help save our honeybees. The Obama Administration announced a federal strategy this June to establish a new pollinator health task force to increase the health and habitat of pollinators.

I’ll keep fighting to protect our bees, and with a colony of help, a little national buzz, and a big sweet tooth, the results can be as sweet as honey.

Without North Dakota honeybees, we wouldn’t get almonds — or any of the other 90 vegetables, fruits, and nuts that make up a third or more of the American diet, say AHPA and the American Beekeeping Federation. As the local food movement has expanded and continues to grow, it’s honeybees that are making it possible for farmers to grow the fruits and vegetables that so many of us eat.

But, our honeybees are in significant danger — and your go-to products at your local grocer or farmers markets could feel the sting. For decades, the honeybee population in the United States has been on the decline. According to the USDA’s ARS, the number of managed U.S. honeybee colonies dropped from five million in the 1940s to just 2.5 million today. And, since 2006, beekeepers even reported startlingly high hive losses, from 30% all the way up to 90%.
Scientists are still studying the problem, but the USDA’s ARS says they have so far attributed these losses to what is known as Colony Collapse Disorder, or CCD, which happens when a queen bee is in the hive, but there are low numbers of or no adult honeybees. A swarm of issues can contribute to CCD, including poor bee nutrition, parasites, pathogens, loss of forage lands, and a lack of genetic diversity and pesticide exposure. In the 1980s, declines in honeybee colony health got a lot worse with the arrival of new pathogens and pests, and the arrival of new mites with viruses in the 1990s didn’t help either.

That’s why I wrote an amendment in the Farm Bill, which Congress passed earlier this year, to direct the U.S. Department of Agriculture to work toward protecting and enhancing our honeybee and pollinator habitats as a part of the conservation programs that producers voluntarily enter into. Basically, the amendment language gives the USDA the kick it needs to make sure conservation programs are both achieving environmental goals as well as giving managed honeybees the high-quality habitat they need — one that includes common alfalfa and types of sweet clover.

And, I’m not the only one getting busy to help save our honeybees. The Obama Administration announced a federal strategy this June to establish a new pollinator health task force to increase the health and habitat of pollinators.

I’ll keep fighting to protect our bees, and with a colony of help, a little national buzz, and a big sweet tooth, the results can be as sweet as honey.

 

 
Watch California Dry Up Right Before Your Eyes In 6 Jaw-Dropping GIFs


By Lydia O'Connor and Chris McGonigal

Posted: 09/18/2014

California is drying up.

“This is a big deal,” California Governor Jerry Brown said at a ceremony Tuesday as he signed into law a trio of bills regulating, for the first time, the state’s groundwater use. As of Thursday, almost 60 percent of the state is facing "exceptional drought," the most severe level of dryness measured by the U.S. Drought Monitor.

But if you’re not living in a community dependent on bottled water rations, farming land that's projected to lose $800 million in crop revenue or watching raging wildfires ravage your drought-parched town, the historic California drought may still feel like little more than a headline.

To fully grasp how desperate California is for relief, we've created six before-and-after GIFs that will show you how badly the drought has dehydrated the state in just the last three years.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/18/california-drought-gifs_n_5843534.html

 

Governor signs bill aimed at protecting honey bees
Friday, September 26, 2014
By Jordan Bell

Governor Brown signed a bill today by local assemblymember Das Williams aimed at controlling a class of pesticides that many believe is responsible for honey bee colony collapse. 

The State of California has already evaluated the pesticide class known as neonicotonoids, or neonics, and a reevaluation is underway. Under this new law, the Department of Pesticide Regulations sets a timeline for studies to be completed and reviewed. 

While it's likely that a variety of factors have caused colony losses over the years, neonics are the most widely used class of insecticides and may play a huge part in the decline of honey bees.

Assemblymember Williams says the deadline is necessary to protect honey bee health throughout California and this evaluation will ensure swift and appropriate action.

California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary, Karen Ross, was on the Central Coast Friday. While her department does not have statutory authority for pesticides, it does play a consultative role on related economic issues.

"The use of this particular category, well of any pesticide, is balanced constantly looking at risk assessment, protecting the public health, protecting the farm workers, protecting the environment, and still allowing for the productivity that lets us to have this bountiful choice that we have," Ross said.

Honey bees are the most economically valuable pollinator in the world and California Agriculture depends greatly on the health of pollinators. 

 

 

United States Standard of Identity for Honey; Extension of Comment Period

COMMENT PERIOD ENDS on 10/19/2014

The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) of the Department of Agriculture (USDA) is extending the comment period for the solicitation of comments on how a Federal standard of identity for honey would be in the interest of consumers, the honey industry, and U.S. agriculture.

AMS is extending the comment period on the notice published August 20, 2014 (79 FR 49279). Comments must be received by October 19, 2014.

Interested persons are invited to submit written comments via the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov or to Brian E. Griffin, Standardization Branch, Specialty Crops Inspection Division, Fruit and Vegetable Program, Agricultural Marketing Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1400 Independence Avenue SW., Room 0709-South Building; STOP 0247, Washington, DC 20250; telephone (202) 720-5021; fax (202) 690-1527, email brian.griffin@ams.usda.gov. Comments should make reference to the date and page number of this issue of the Federal Register and will be made available for public inspection at the above office during regular business hours.

Please be advised that all comments submitted in response to this notice will be included in the record and will be made available to the public on the Internet via http://www.regulations.gov. Also, the identity of the individuals or entities submitting the comments will be made public.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Brian E. Griffin, Standardization Branch, Specialty Crops Inspection Division, Agricultural Marketing Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, telephone (202) 720-5021or fax (202) 690-1527.

Background

In the Federal Register of August 20, 2014 (79 FR 49279), AMS published a notice requesting comment on how a Federal standard of identity for honey would be in the interest of consumers, the honey industry, and U.S. agriculture with a 30-day comment period. Comments received from this notice will be utilized in the preparation of a report from the Secretary of Agriculture to the Commissioner of Food and Drugs describing how a Federal standard of identity for honey would be in the interest of consumers, the honey industry, and U.S. agriculture.

AMS has received correspondence from an interested person requesting a 30-day extension of the comment period for the notice. Concern was expressed that the initial 30-day comment period does not allow sufficient time for meaningful public participation. AMS believes that a 30-day extension will allow adequate time for interested persons to submit comments without causing a significant delay.

 

Congratulations Steve and Karen Ellis, Old Mill Honey Company~ Grant County, Minnesota Farm Family of the Year!

Old Mill Honey Co. was founded in 1955 by Steve’s father-in-law, James Dahl.  In 1977, Steve came from Washington to spend the summer living with the Dahls to learn about commercial beekeeping.  The next year, he married James’ daughter Karen, and began working for James in 1979.  In 1998, Steve bought out James’ share and combined it with the operation he had started himself.  Today Old Mill Honey operates 2,300 hives of bees.  The hives are managed in Minnesota during the summer and in California during the winter months.  In Minnesota, the hives are located in Grant, Stevens, Douglas, and Pope counties.  Steve’s brother-in-law Thomas Dahl is employed at Old Mill as well as 3-4 seasonal employees.  Steve and Karen have two children; Kate and Patrick.  Both children helped with the business while they were living at home. Now, Kate has a business of her own producing and selling hand-made candles using beeswax produced at Old Mill Honey.

Steve is secretary of the National Honey Bee Advisory Board and works to influence a national pesticide policy reform in an effort to turn the tide of the ongoing pollinator decline.  In addition, Steve is a speaker to a variety of audiences from 4-H groups to International Pesticide Symposiums, explaining the importance of honeybees to agriculture and wildlife systems through their contribution of pollination.


Fall is the time to plant bee forage

Red Bluff Daily News

09/20/2014

Project Apis m is again looking for grower-cooperators this fall for its honey bee forage project, according to the Almond Board of California.

PAm provides almond growers with free seed mixes and technical support for enrolled growers in order to provide diverse and nutritional habitat for honey bees just prior to and after bloom in almond orchards.

Working with land manager—cooperators, PAm has identified low moisture-requiring seed mixes, seed suppliers and planting regimes.

The ideal time to plant seeds is immediately after harvest, when soil is still warm, and prior to fall rains. Growers can dedicate any amount of acreage for honey bee forage.

Areas to consider planting are fallow or unused land on the farm; along access rows and waterways; where trees are being taken out of production; in between young, non-bearing trees; orchard margins or borders; and as a cover crop between tree rows, if the grower can manage pesticide applications with a blooming cover crop.

In addition to helping create stronger bee colonies for enhanced almond pollination, a pollinator forage crop can benefit water quality by planting it where it reduces soil erosion and runoff, such as vegetative strips, unplanted ground or in new orchards.

Cover crops in orchards can improve water infiltration and enhance soil fertility, especially if the forage mixture includes nitrogen-fixing plants.


 

Syngenta Stands Firm On Neonicotinoids

Pesticides: Manufacturer seeks to expand uses of thiamethoxam as pressure against chemical mounts

By Britt E. Erickson

Amid growing concerns and lawsuits linking neonicotinoid pesticides with bee declines, Syngenta is asking the Environmental Protection Agency to increase the allowable levels of the company’s controversial neonicotinoid product thiamethoxam on certain crops.

Syngenta is seeking the change so thiamethoxam can be used as a spray on the foliage of alfalfa, corn, barley, and wheat. Currently, the pesticide is approved for use only as a seed treatment on those crops. In explaining its request, the company says, “Mid- to late-season insect pests are not controlled by seed treatment.”

The environmental group Beyond Pesticides says the move would be a “step backward for pollinator health.” Syngenta’s request “comes at a time when researchers are discovering that even ‘near-infinitesimal’ exposure to this class of pesticides can result in harm to honeybees and other wild pollinators,” the group says.

Syngenta’s action comes just days after Canadian beekeepers filed a class-action lawsuit against the company, claiming thiamethoxam and its breakdown product clothianidin led to more than $400 million in damages from 2006 to 2013. These alleged harms include bee deaths; reproductive, immunological, and behavioral effects in bees resulting in loss of hives; reduced honey yields; lower-quality honey; and contaminated hive equipment. “Chronic effects of the use of the neonicotinoids are felt by Canada’s beekeepers annually,” the suit states.

In the U.S., the environmental group Natural Resources Defense Council petitioned EPA earlier this summer to conduct an emergency review of the impacts of neonicotinoid pesticides on bees. The organization is urging EPA to finish the review within one year. The agency’s current schedule is to complete the safety review of this class of chemicals by 2019.

EPA has rejected calls from advocacy groups to ban neonicotinoid pesticides, saying there is no evidence that bees are being exposed to levels that would cause population declines. Instead, the agency announced in late August that it would require manufacturers to change their product labels to prohibit the use of neonicotinoid pesticides when bees are foraging or when plants are flowering. The labels, which could begin appearing as early as next year, must also display an icon showing that the pesticide is harmful to bees.

The European Union last year declared a two-year ban on three neonicotinoid pesticides, including thiamethoxam and clothianidin, because of concerns for bee health. In an ongoing lawsuit there, Syngenta is challenging that ban, saying it was based on a flawed process and an inaccurate assessment by the European Food Safety Authority.

“Growers depend on neonicotinoids and other crop protection products to increase crop productivity,” says Syngenta spokeswoman Ann Bryan. “And the scientific evidence clearly shows that bees and other pollinators can coexist safely with modern agricultural technologies like neonicotinoids when product labels are followed,” she says.

The case against neonicotinoids is complicated because scientists and pollinator experts agree that multiple factors—and not just pesticides—are affecting bee health. Other influences include parasitic mites, diseases, loss of habitat, poor nutrition, weather conditions, and a lack of genetic diversity in bee populations.

EPA is accepting comments on Syngenta’s request to increase the allowable levels for residues of thiamethoxam and clothianidin on various food crops until Oct. 6.

Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
Copyright © 2014 American Chemical Society

Congressional Briefing on Neonicotinoid Pesticides and Human HealthThis Week

American Congressional Briefing:

The Threat of Neonicotinoid Pesticides to Bees and Other Organisms, and the Risks to Human Health

Rayburn House Office Building B318, Washington DC

September 18, 2014

9:30AM to 11AM

 Neonicotinoids are systemic pesticides, meaning they are taken up by all tissues and fluids of treated plants, including nectar and pollen, and in food produced by these plants. A large body of scientific evidence has linked neonicotinoids to Bee Colony Collapse Disorder, a widespread and massive die-off of honeybees over the past decade in the U.S., Europe, and other parts of the world, evidence so compelling that the European Union has banned the three most commonly used neonicotinoids.

 It has now become clear that these water-soluble, long-lived neurotoxins, the world’s most widely used insecticides, are also toxic to bumblebees and other pollinators, and to birds, earthworms, and many other organisms. And given that neonicotinoids have been shown to be present in surface waters (by the USGS), ground water (reported by the EPA), and in our food (by the USDA), and that they have been shown to disrupt nerve cell activity in mammals, there are major concerns that they may have significant human health impacts as well, particularly for developing nervous systems in infants and children.

 This briefing, sponsored by the Center for Health and the Global Environment at the Harvard School of Public Health, and the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health at George Washington University’s School of Public Health’s Milken Institute, will review the latest science on neonicotinoids.

 The following will speak:

 Eric Chivian M.D.—Director, The Program for Preserving the Natural World. Founder and Former Director, Center for Health and the Global Environment, Harvard School of Public Health.

 Chensheng (Alex) Lu Ph.D.—Associate Professor of Environmental Exposure Biology, Harvard School of Public Health.

 Melissa Perry Ph.D.—Professor and Chair, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, Milken Institute, George Washington University School of Public Health. President-elect, American College of Epidemiology.

 Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR 3rd District)—Co-Author of the “Saving America’s Pollinators Act of 2013”

 The briefing is free and open to the public. No RSVP is required.

 For more information, please contact:

 Tracy Sachs  tsachs@hsph.harvard.edu

Kallista Bernal  kallista@email.gwu.edu



New Pollinator Bill Helps Pesticide Industry, Not Bees or Beekeepers


September 12, 2013 (Washington, DC)—Center for Food Safety today expressed concerns with a bill that could derail positive efforts already underway in Congress and the White House to improve pollinator health.  The purposefully narrow and limiting bill, H.R. 5447, was introduced by Rep. Austin Scott (R-Ga.) and would amend the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) to push for faster approval of pesticides to control “parasitic pests,” such as the varroa mite.

“Fast-tracking pesticide approvals is what got us into this mess in the first place and focusing strictly on varroa mites will not get us out,” said Larissa Walker, pollinator campaign director for Center for Food Safety. “Congress cannot ignore every other key factor in pollinator declines, particularly the pesticides known to damage their health, and expect to solve this crisis.”

While varroa mites are one of several factors impacting honey bee health, beekeepers and scientists have consistently pointed a finger at pesticides such as neonicotinoids as a primary culprit in honey bee and other pollinator declines.

“There is already a robust bill in Congress, with support from beekeepers, aimed at addressing the full spectrum of stressors impacting pollinator health. It would be a shame if this new bill distracted attention away from it and let the pesticide industry off the hook,” said Colin O’Neil, director of government affairs.

In April, a House Agriculture Subcommittee held a hearing solely focused on varroa. The panel of witnesses included a representative of Bayer but no one from the beekeeping industry. Beekeepers have been adamant in their demands to curtail pesticide use in order to preserve their industry and protect the food supply.

“Beekeepers do not consider mites as the top problem, and many like myself find it a non-issue.  Pesticides are still the number one issue for all beekeepers,” said New York beekeeper Jim Doan.

Speaking at the hearing, USDA official Jeff Pettis testified, “But even if the varroa mite problem were solved today, this would not by itself solve all of the problems facing honey bees and beekeepers.”

In July 2013, Representatives John Conyers and Earl Blumenauer introduced the “Saving America’s Pollinators Act,” (HR 2692), which would suspend the use of four of the most toxic neonicotinoid chemicals until the Environmental Protection Agency conducts a full review of their safety and can make an informed and scientifically-sound decision about their use.

In June, the White House released instructions to all federal agencies spelling out a comprehensive plan to deal with the urgent crisis facing honey bees and other pollinators. The memorandum specifically called on EPA to assess the risks of pesticides, particularly neonicotinoids.

For more on the history of neonicotinoids and the problems with EPA’s approval process, go here.

 

Bacteria from bees possible alternative to antibiotics

Date: September 8, 2014

Source: Lund University

Raw honey has been used against infections for millennia, before honey -- as we now know it -- was manufactured and sold in stores. So what is the key to its' antimicrobial properties? Researchers at Lund University in Sweden have identified a unique group of 13 lactic acid bacteria found in fresh honey, from the honey stomach of bees. The bacteria produce a myriad of active antimicrobial compounds.

These lactic acid bacteria have now been tested on severe human wound pathogens such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Pseudomonas aeruginosa and vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE), among others. When the lactic acid bacteria were applied to the pathogens in the laboratory, it counteracted all of them.

While the effect on human bacteria has only been tested in a lab environment thus far, the lactic acid bacteria has been applied directly to horses with persistent wounds. The LAB was mixed with honey and applied to ten horses; where the owners had tried several other methods to no avail. All of the horses' wounds were healed by the mixture.

The researchers believe the secret to the strong results lie in the broad spectrum of active substances involved.

"Antibiotics are mostly one active substance, effective against only a narrow spectrum of bacteria. When used alive, these 13 lactic acid bacteria produce the right kind of antimicrobial compounds as needed, depending on the threat. It seems to have worked well for millions of years of protecting bees' health and honey against other harmful microorganisms. However, since store-bought honey doesn't contain the living lactic acid bacteria, many of its unique properties have been lost in recent times," explains Tobias Olofsson.

The next step is further studies to investigate wider clinical use against topical human infections as well as on animals.

The findings have implications for developing countries, where fresh honey is easily available, but also for Western countries where antibiotic resistance is seriously increasing.
Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Lund University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

 


Scotland: Pesticide Ban Call to Save Bees

MSPs have called on ministers to ban certain pesticides during a Holyrood debate on the plight of bees.

SNP MSP Angus MacDonald tabled a motion calling for action to "reduce pesticides that harm pollinators".

The Scottish Wildlife Trust believes pesticides known as neonicotinoids are partly to blame for a 60% decline in the bumblebee population.

The Scottish government said it was adopting a "precautionary approach" pending more research.

The trust said there had been a 60% decline in the number of bumblebees in the past 50 years and other important pollinators including hoverflies and butterflies were under threat.

Species such as the great yellow bumblebee have become rarer and confined to the north and west of Scotland while butterflies such as the marsh fritillary and the pearl bordered fritillary had also dwindled, it said.

'Action plans'

Mr MacDonald's motion in parliament backed a call from the campaign group Buglife for "the Scottish government to develop and implement action plans, coordinate pollinator monitoring programmes, reduce pesticides that harm pollinators and conserve pollinator species while maintaining places for pollinators to feed and breed".

The Liberal Democrat SNP for Orkney, Liam McArthur, said: "Loss of habitat, use of pesticides and insect disease are all thought to be factors in this decline.

"However, as islands we have a unique opportunity to put in place more effective measures to protect our bee populations.

"As well as supporting further research into pesticides that are less harmful to pollinators, I want to see steps taken to restrict the import of bees and hives into Orkney.

"Given the devastating impact that the varroa mite has had on bee numbers in Orkney and elsewhere, even a voluntary ban would go some way to providing much needed extra protection."

The varroa mite, a parasite which feeds off a bee's blood, has been associated with the decline of honeybee populations worldwide.

Nectar networks

The Scottish Wildlife Trust has begun a number of initiatives including the creation of a "nectar network" between Troon and Irvine in Ayrshire by planting wildflowers to connect habitats for wild pollinators.

Head of policy, Dr Maggie Keegan, said: "The trust believes the decline in wild pollinators and honeybees may act like the 'canary in the mine' - indicating that Scotland's landscapes and ecosystems are not being managed sustainably.

"Everyone can do their bit to help these wonderful creatures recover by creating a window box and planting wildflowers in the garden, but it is vital we tackle this issue at the landscape-scale to create a 'nectar network' across Scotland.

"The trust hopes this debate converts words into action from the Scottish government.

"At the very least, the trust would like to see the Scottish government commit to banning harmful pesticides such as neonicotinoids outright and supporting research into pollinators and low-pesticide farming systems."

A Scottish government spokesman said it was "committed to taking a precautionary approach on the use of neonicotinoids".

The spokesman added: "It is essential, given concerns that have been expressed about the efficiency of previous Defra funded field trials, that we await further research that clearly and properly demonstrates the nature and extent of risk that neonicotinoids pose to bees, and other pollinators, when they are foraging."

 

Canadian beekeepers sue Bayer and Syngenta over neonicotinoid pesticides

Class action lawsuit seeks $400 million in damages
Posted: Sep 03, 2014
Canadian beekeepers are suing the makers of popular crop pesticides for more than $400 million in damages, alleging that their use is causing the deaths of bee colonies.

The proposed class action lawsuit was filed Tuesday in the Ontario Superior Court on behalf of all Canadian beekeepers by Sun Parlor Honey Ltd. and Munro Honey, two of Ontario's largest honey producers, the Ontario Beekeepers Association announced Wednesday.

"The goal is to stop the use of the neonicotinoids to stop the harm to the bees and the beekeepers," said Paula Lombardi, a lawyer with London, Ont.-based law firm Siskinds LLP, which is handling the case. 

As of Thursday morning, more than 30 beekeepers had signed on to participate in the class action.

Read the statement of claim

The lawsuit alleges that Bayer Cropscience Inc. and Syngenta Canada Inc. and their parent companies were negligent in their design, manufacture, sale and distribution of neonicotinoid pesticides, specifically those containing imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiomethoxam.

The pesticides, which are a neurotoxin to insects, are widely coated on corn, soybean and canola seeds in Canada to protect the plants from pests such as aphids. Studies have shown that bees exposed to the pesticides have smaller colonies, fail to return to their hives, and may have trouble navigating. The pesticides were also found in 70 per cent of dead bees tested by Health Canada in 2013.

Bee researchers raise more warning flags about neonicotinoid pesticides

The European Commission restricted the use of the pesticides for two years and Ontario has indicated it will move toward regulating them, due to concerns over bee health.

Bayer maintains that the risk to bees from the pesticide is low, and it has recommended ways that farmers can minimize bees' exposure to the pesticide.

Both Bayer and Syngenta told CBC News they wouldn't comment on the lawsuit because they haven't yet been served with it. 

The lawsuit is seeking more than $400 million in damages, alleging that as a result of neonicotinoid use:

The beekeepers' colonies and breeding stock were damaged or died.

Their beeswax, honeycombs and hives were contaminated.

Their honey production decreased.

They lost profits and incurred unrecoverable costs, such as increased labour and supply costs.

Beekeepers or companies involved in beekeeping services such as honey production, queen bee rearing and pollination who are affected and want to join the lawsuit are asked to contact Lombardi.

The Ontario Beekeepers Association is not directly involved in the lawsuit, but along with the Sierra Club Canada Foundation, the research for the lawsuit.

 


Bees at the Brink
Fields of Green, A Desert For Bees
Story by Josephine Marcotty

Farmers such as Gary Schrad (above) have few alternatives to the high-tech seeds that produce big crops — but also create an unhealthy landscape for bees.

ALBERT LEA, MINN.  |  Third in an occasional series

Mac Ehrhardt often feels like he has one leg on either side of a barbed-wire fence. On one side stand the farmers who have bought seed from his family’s business for three generations, and who rely religiously on insecticides to protect their crops. On the other is Ehrhardt’s growing conviction that southern Minnesota’s two-tone landscape of corn and soybeans has become a barren and toxic place for a crucial player in the nation’s food system — the honeybee.

Ehrhardt’s uncomfortable position at the Albert Lea Seed Company reflects the powerful role that farmers could play in the plight of the bees. Though they represent just 2 percent of Minnesota’s population, farmers control half its land. And their embrace of the monocultures and pesticides that form the basis of modern industrial agriculture has been implicated in the decline of bees and pollinators.

But as long as farmers sit at the receiving end of an agri-chemical pipeline that fuels the nation’s rural economy, not much is likely to change, he said.

“No one in this county is getting paid for growing bee-friendly corn,” Ehrhardt said. Organic farmers might ask why use chemicals at all, he added. “I respect that. But out here in farm country, that’s not what’s happening.”

The modern farmer

Gary Schrad, one of Ehrhardt’s customers, doesn’t farm the way his father did.

There was a time when farmers would plant their crop, harvest it, and then save some of the seed — or buy a neighbor’s seed — to plant the next year’s crop.

Not anymore.

Now, most of the seed Schrad plants on his 3,500 acres comes from corporations such as Monsanto and Syngenta, and they come embedded with astonishing genetics. One type of gene makes corn, soybeans and other crops immune to herbicides, including Roundup, allowing farmers to kill weeds at will without killing their crops.

As a result, weeds and wildflowers between the rows are sparse — leaving bees and butterflies to forage in the smaller and smaller areas that are left: state parks, wildlife preserves and tiny strips of land between the roads and the fields.

Another added gene makes the plants themselves poisonous to insects such as corn rootworm that are the bane of farmers. But it’s not foolproof against all insects.

The solution? A new class of insecticides first introduced in 1994 that is relatively harmless to people and animals — neonicotinoids. Now added routinely as a coating on seeds, neonicotinoids provide additional insurance against soil pests. And, like the genetic traits, they become an intrinsic part of the plant as it grows.

“It started in 2002,” said Chuck Benbrook, a professor who studies sustainable agricultural systems at Washington University. “By 2006 neonicotinoids had cornered the market.”

Today, genetically engineered crops dominate agriculture, and two-thirds of the world’s cropland gets a regular dose of neonicotinoids, including 90 percent of corn and 60 percent of soybean acres.

Farmers, in fact, have few options. The highly complex seed combinations they find on the market are determined by interwoven licensing agreements among the companies that control the seeds and the companies that make the insecticides. Often they are one and the same. Bayer CropScience and Syngenta, for example, sell seeds and make some of the most widely used neonicotinoids. Monsanto, the world’s leading seed company, uses Bayer’s neonicotinoids on some of its leading genetically altered seeds. Monsanto also developed the herbicide Roundup, as well as the genetically engineered seeds that are resistant to it.

 

When it comes time to buy seed, farmers have a dwindling number of alternatives. Three corporations control more than half of the world’s commercial seed market, and the top 10 control three-fourths, according to ETC Group, a Canadian nonprofit that tracks emerging technologies. No one can grow patented GMO seeds. If they do, they’ll get sued by the companies that own the patents.

“The fact is, the vast majority of farmers have no choice but to go down the road that the seed biotech industry has decided to lead them,” Benbrook said. “The farmer can’t go to the dealer and say: ‘Hold the Roundup Ready gene.’ It’s not the pickle on the hamburger.”

It’s a costly package deal. A standard bag of GMO seed corn, pre-treated with insecticides and fungicides, enough to plant two acres, costs $300 or more, compared with about $120 for non-engineered corn that usually comes with the same kinds of coatings. That price alone provides a powerful incentive for farmers not to question the relatively low-cost neonicotinoid coating that comes with it.

“The more you can protect the seed, the better the return for that acre of ground,” Schrad said. “Every seed company and every farmer has an interest in that.”

In August, the dense green and gold fields of southern Minnesota roll to the horizon in all directions, a testament to the success of all that biotechnology. The GMO seeds Schrad uses have greatly reduced the need for older insecticides, some of them extremely toxic to people.

But the amount of land devoted to those seeds has exploded. Today in Minnesota, about 24,000 square miles — a third of the state — are devoted to growing either corn or soybeans.

“This,” Schrad said, waving an arm toward a wall of his head-high corn, “is what … Minnesota is.”

Bees pay the price

Bees, however, may be paying a high price of their own. In 2006, beekeepers began raising the alarm about neonicotinoids after they noticed a sudden and inexplicable collapse of their colonies over winter. They used to lose 10 percent of their bees in the cold months, building their hives back up in the summer. But in the past decade, average hive losses of 25 to 30 percent have become routine, a decline that many say is not sustainable for their businesses — or the $15 billion a year in food crops that rely on bees for pollination.

Bayer CropScience, Monsanto and others in agribusiness say there is no evidence that neonicotinoids are to blame. Years of research went into their development, including studies that concluded the low doses bees encounter as they forage for pollen and nectar are insufficient to kill them, company officials say.

Yet beekeepers, environmentalists and many scientists are raising a growing chorus of disagreement. Dozens of studies have now found that low doses of neonicotinoids may not kill bees outright, but can cripple their highly sophisticated navigational and communication skills, and hamper a queen’s reproduction. Scientists have also warned that crops take up only a small portion of the insecticide, leaving the rest behind in the soil. If the toxins spread from fields into streams and wetlands, they may ripple through the food system from aquatic insects to birds and beyond, they say.

Some scientists and environmental groups now compare the history of neonicotinoids to that of DDT, the long-banned insecticide that decimated bird populations and inspired Rachel Carson’s book “Silent Spring.”

Like DDT, “It really appeared to be a boon,” said University of Minnesota entomologist Ian MacRae. “But now we are beginning to see the downside of its chemistry.”

Still, entomologists and federal regulators say, the case against agricultural neonicotinoids is not settled. Bees encounter many different insecticides while foraging in millions of flowers and blooming trees. They live for only six weeks and are very efficient at detoxifying their colonies, bee scientists say. They also suffer from invasive parasites, a multitude of diseases and a less nutritious diet of sugar water and artificial pollen that many commercial beekeepers have adopted because of the Midwest’s increasingly flowerless landscape.

In short, though some scientists are beginning to link neonicotinoids to the decline of the honeybee, the precise effect remains elusive.

“We know half the equation,” said Bob Koch, an entomologist at the University of Minnesota who works with farmers. “We don’t know what bees are experiencing from crops.”

And that’s precisely what chemical companies and many farmers say they want to know.

“These insecticides go through a tremendous amount of regulation and testing before they are put on the market,” Schrad said. “That same type of testing and research should be done before they are pulled from the market.”

What is clear is that neonicotinoids are overused, say agricultural entomologists.

Many of the soil pests they were designed to thwart show up in less than 5 percent of the fields, said Bruce Potter, a pest management specialist at the University of Minnesota's extension service.

READ MORE: http://www.startribune.com/local/274006381.html?src=news-stmp

 

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