Get Ready for the Mite-A-Thon

Varroa mites are one of the greatest threats to honey bee health, honey production, and pollination services. The Honey Bee Health Coalition has been proud to equip beekeepers with the information, tools, and resources they need to detect, monitor, and manage these destructive mites.

We are proud now to share information about the first ever Mite-A-Thon, supported by the Pollinator Partnership and the many partners listed below.

Read on or click HERE for more information about this exciting event

The first annual Mite-A-Thon will take place Saturday, September 9, to Saturday, September 16, and we invite you to participate!

Local beekeeping clubs and associations are key to making Mite-A-Thon a success!

The Mite-A-Thon is a national effort to collect mite infestation data and to visualize Varroa infestations in honey bee colonies across North America within a one week window.  All beekeepers will be asked to participate, creating a rich distribution of sampling sites in Canada, the United States, and Mexico.  Their Varroa monitoring data will be uploaded to www.mitecheck.com.

OBJECTIVE: 1) Raise awareness about honey bee colony Varroa infestations in North America through effective monitoring methods. 2) Management strategies will be made available for discussion within bee organizations utilizing Mite-A-Thon partner developed information and outreach materials.

PARTICIPANTS: All beekeepers are welcome to participate – we need bee associations to help lead this effort!

PARTICIPANTS: All beekeepers are welcome to participate – we need bee associations to help lead this effort!

WHAT YOU NEED TO DO: 

Encourage your members to participate in September, through meetings, newsletters, emails, social media etc. - http://www.pollinator.org/miteathon

Teach new beekeepers how to monitor for mites in August. http://honeybeehealthcoalition.org/varroa/

Help your members prepare their monitoring materials.

Support your members in making sure they are able to monitor mites effectively and report their data.

DATA COLLECTION: Participants will monitor the level of mites (number of mites per 100 bees) using a standardized protocol utilizing two common methods of assessment (powdered sugar roll or alcohol wash) and then enter data, including location, total number of hives, number of hives tested, local habitat, and the number of Varroa mites counted from each hive. The published information will not identify individual participants.

CONTACT: Miteathon@pollinator.org or 415-362-1137

Learn more and stay up to date at www.pollinator.org/miteathon
Thank you,

The Mite-A-Thon Partners

Honey Bee Health Coalition Supports Honey Bee Health During Pollinator Week

Honey Bee Health Coalition Supports Honey Bee Health During Pollinator Week

June 19 - 25, 2017

Supporting honey bee health has never been as important as it is today. The annual Bee Informed Partnership survey has shown that in 2016, surveyed beekeepers lost a third of their bees. With agriculture dependent on honey bees and other native pollinators, the Honey Bee Health Coalition is proud to be developing collaborative, multi-factor solutions to the challenges bees face.
 
Three years since its launch, the Coalition is still going strong.
 
With Pollinator Week just around the corner, the Coalition continues to draw inspiration from its namesake and work together to find collective and collaborative strategies to support honey bee health.

Pollinator Week
Honey bees and pollinators work throughout the year to support the food and products we count on every day. Pollinator Week is an opportunity to highlight everything honey bees make possible — including billions of dollars in North American agriculture.

Coalition members are doing their parts to highlight not only the challenges bees face, but also the opportunities for everyday people to support honey bee health. For example, Coalition members will be holding and participating in a series of events, including:

The St. Louis Zoo will host its 9th Annual Pollinator Dinner on Tuesday, June 20, starting at 6 p.m. CT. The reservation-only event is title "Native Foods, Native Peoples and Native Pollinators" and highlights the culinary and cultural history of Native Americans and the critical supporting role native pollinators play.

The Levin Family Foundation will celebrate Wright-Patterson Air Force Base being designated as a Bee City USA on Wednesday, June 21, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. ET. The Pollinator Expo will highlight local organizations' efforts to protect pollinators.

The Kentucky Department of Agriculture will host a Pollinator Stakeholder Day to present the Kentucky Pollinator Protection Plan to Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles.

Representatives from the Honey Bee Health Coalition and the Conservation Technology Information Center will discuss the Bee Integrated Demonstration Project in a June 21webinar from noon to 1 p.m. ET.

But that's not all: Coalition members and allies are holding a wide variety of events across the nation. To learn more about additional Pollinator Week activities, including those in your backyard, visit the Pollinator Partnership’s interactive map.

UNITED STATES
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Office of the Secretary
Washington, D.C. 20250

NATIONAL POLLINATOR WEEK

June 19 - 25, 2017

By the Secretary of Agriculture of the United States of America
 
A PROCLAMATION

WHEREAS pollinator species such as honey bees, native bees, birds, bats, and butterflies are essential partners of farmers and ranchers in producing food and are vital to keeping items such as fruits, nuts, and vegetables in our diets; and
 
WHEREAS healthy pollinator populations critical to the continued economic well-being of agricultural producers, of rural America, and of the U.S. economy; and
 
WHEREAS pollinator losses over the past few decades require immediate attention to ensure the sustainability of our food production systems, avoid additional economic impact on the agricultural sector, and protect environmental health; and

WHEREAS it is critically important to encourage the protection of pollinators; increase the quality and amount of pollinator habitat and forage; reverse pollinator losses; and help restore pollinator populations to healthy levels;

NOW, THEREFORE, in recognition of the vital significance of protecting pollinator health, I, Sonny Perdue, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, do hereby proclaim June 19 - 25, 2017, as National Pollinator Week. I call upon the people of the United States to join me in celebrating the significance of pollinators with appropriate observances and activities
.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this 24th day of May 2017, the two-hundred forty-first year of the Independence of the United States of America.

SONNY PERDUE
Secretary

Tools For Varroa Management

Honey Bee Health Coalition

This Guide explains practical, effective methods that beekeepers can use to measure Varroa mite infestations in their hives and select appropriate control methods.

About this Guide:

Every honey bee colony in the continental United States and Canada either has Varroa mites today or will have them within several months. Varroa mite infestation represents one of the greatest threats to honey bee health, honey production, and pollination services. When honey bee colonies are untreated or treated ineffectively, colonies can fail and beekeepers can incur major economic losses, and, ultimately, agricultural food production may be impacted. In addition, colonies with Varroa are a source of mites that can spread to other colonies, even in other apiaries, through drifting, robbing, and absconding activity of bees.

All beekeepers should remain vigilant to detect high Varroa mite levels and be prepared to take timely action in order to reduce mite loads. Effective mite control will reduce colony losses and avoid potential spread of infectious disease among colonies.

This Guide will explain practical, effective methods that beekeepers can use to measure Varroa mite infestations in their hives and select appropriate control methods. The Honey Bee Health Coalition offers this Guide free of charge and asks that you please reference the Coalition if distributing.

Download Varroa Guide

http://honeybeehealthcoalition.org/varroa/

A US Workforce That Produces $15 Billion of Economic Value Each Year Is Panicking

The Washington Post/Science   May 22, 2015

A crucial agricultural workforce in the United States that produces some $15 billion worth of economic value every year, according to the Obama administration, has been struck by alarming losses recently, frightening advocates and demanding attention from Washington. Yes, the country's bees are in trouble.

President Obama has a plan to deal with the massive number of bee deaths. But this might be a problem that biotechnology will ultimately have to solve.

About 42 percent of honeybee colonies died over the past year, according to a new survey. Though that's bad, it's not the worst in the past decade. Perhaps some reduction in bee numbers is to be expected as a growing and more prosperous human population adapts land to its own uses. But beekeepers must split surviving colonies to make up for bee deaths, straining insects and making the business increasingly difficult and expensive.

Government experts blame a complex set of factors. The 1987 arrival of the varroa destructor mite, which feeds on honeybee blood, appears to have contributed, along with disease, pesticide use and a reduction in the type and variety of forage that bees need.

The Obama administration wants to curtail all of these factors, lowering the rate of hive loss to no more than 15 percent within a decade, which would be economically sustainable for the bee industry. Top on the list is altering public and private lands — in national parks, roadside strips, building complexes, even the White House South Lawn — to create 7 million acres of suitable pollinator habitat. This involves, among other things, identifying plants that provide nutrition for honeybees in hopes of encouraging their cultivation.

That would help, and Congress should provide the necessary funds. But to many advocates, those sorts of measures don't face up to what they see as the real problem: a class of insecticides known as neonicotinoids. The Environmental Protection Agency already has created rules restricting neonicotinoid use when bees are brought in to pollinate areas.

But anti-pesticide activists insist that persistent low-level exposure to neonicotinoids can harm bees, too. Plants absorb the pesticides even when bees aren't around, they say, which results in toxic pollen and nectar; even if contaminated bees don't die, these compounds can interfere with bees' capability to communicate, fly and navigate.

The European Union has put a moratorium on neonicotinoid use. The EPA is being more cautious. The agency isn't approving more uses for neonicotinoids, but it's also not taking products off the market yet, instead just limiting their application.

The agency says that the serious scientific work establishing the risk of low-level neonicotinoid exposure to bees is only just being done. Besides, the Obama administration's strategy notes, the goal is to "balance the unintended consequences of chemical exposure with the need for pest control."

In the end, that balance might be best achieved with new biotechnology: compounds and plants that target unwanted species while leaving others alone. As with many vexing environmental and resource challenges, governments and the public must be open to the promise of these sorts of innovations to improve both the environment and human welfare.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/a-us-workforce-that-produces-15-billion-of-economic-value-each-year-is-panicking-2015-5#ixzz3ayS

White House Plan Does Little To Take The Sting Out Of Pollinator Declines

Beyond Pesticides Daily News Blog  May 20, 2015

(Washington, DC, May 20, 2015) Yesterday, the White House released its much awaited plan for protecting American pollinators, which identifies key threats, but falls short of recommendations submitted by Beyond Pesticides, beekeepers, and others who stress that pollinator protection begins with strong regulatory action and suspension of bee-toxic pesticides. The Pollinator Health Task Force, established by President Obama in June 2014, brought together most federal agencies to “reverse pollinator losses and help restore populations to healthy levels,” and involved developing a National Pollinator Health Strategy and a Pollinator Research Action Plan. The Strategy outlines several components, such as a focus on increased pollinator habitat, public education and outreach, and further research into a range of environmental stressors, including systemic neonicotinoid pesticides. Although well-intentioned, the Strategy ultimately works at cross-purposes by encouraging habitat, but continuing to allow pesticides that contaminate landscapes.

“Waiting for additional research before taking action on neonicotinoid pesticides, which current science shows are highly toxic to bees, will not effectively stem pollinator declines, and is unlikely to achieve the National Pollinator Health Strategy’s goal of reducing honey bee losses to no more than 15% within 10 years,” said Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides.

A major component of the federal plan is the creation and stewardship of habitat and forage for pollinators. However, without restrictions on the use of neonicotinoids, these areas are at risk for pesticide contamination and provide no real safe-haven for bees and other pollinators. Beyond Pesticides continues to encourage federal agencies to adopt organic management practices that are inherently protective of pollinators.

Under the plan, EPA will propose...

Read more... http://www.beyondpesticides.org/dailynewsblog/?p=15701

Pollinator Politics: Environmentalists Criticize Obama's Plan To Save Bees

NPR/THE SALT    By Allison Aubrey  May 20, 2015

LISTEN TO THE STORY: http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/05/20/408017267/pollinator-politics-environmentalists-criticize-obama-plan-to-save-bees

The buzz around bees has been bad lately. As we've reported, beekeepers say they lost 42 percent of honeybee colonies last summer.

And it seems that fixing what ails bees is no simple task. Over the past few decades, they've been hit by diseases and habitat loss. There's also increasing evidence that a type of pesticides called neonicotinoids are linked to bees' decline, too.

This could be bad news for all of us, since bees and other pollinators are critical to our food supply.

Honeybees alone, according to an Obama administration estimate, add $15 billion in value to agricultural crops each year by pollinating everything from almonds and apples to blueberries and squash.

And now the administration has put forth a new action plan to reverse the declines in bees.

A key component is a strategy to restore 7 million acres of bee-friendly habitat that have been lost to urbanization, development and farming.

"It's a big step in the right direction," says Nigel Raine, a professor who studies pollinator conservation at the University of Guelph, in Canada.

The idea is to plant many types of wildflowers — in lots of different areas — so that bees have more places to forage and nest. "It's making sure they have sufficient flowers to feed on," says Raine — and places to live.

Many environmentalists say restoring bee habitat is a good place to start, but they're critical that the Obama administration has not taken a harder line in limiting the use of neonicotinoids.

The Natural Resources Defense Council says more urgent action is needed to safeguard our food supply. "To truly save bees and other pollinators, we must drastically cut down on today's pervasive use of neonicotinoids and other pesticides," Peter Lehner, executive director of the NRDC, said in a press release.

And a similar message is coming from Friends of the Earth. The White House Pollinator Strategy won't solve the bee crisis, the group says.

The Environmental Protection Agency announced in April that it is not likely to approve new uses of neonicotinoids, but the plan announced by the administration on Tuesday did not call for restrictions on current uses.

Lisa Archer, who leads the food and technology program at Friends of the Earth, said in a statement: "President Obama's National Pollinator Health Strategy misses the mark by not adequately addressing the pesticides as a key driver of unsustainable losses of bees and other pollinators essential to our food system."

The European Union has already moved to restrict the use of neonicotinoids. And as we've reported, there are proposals in Canada to limit use of the pesticides, too.

But a leading manufacturer of the pesticides says neonic restrictions are not necessary. "Neonicotinoids — when used according to labeled directions — can be used safely with pollinators," Becky Langer of Bayer Crop Science told us.

She says the administration's strategy to restore bee-friendly habitat is a good approach, and points out that Bayer is helping to address this issue with its Bee Care Center and efforts to encourage the expansion of habitat.

Read at & Listen: http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/05/20/408017267/pollinator-politics-environmentalists-criticize-obama-plan-to-save-bees

Honey Bee Health Coalition Task Force Strategy Response

Honey Bee Health Coalition/Keystone Policy Center By Julie Shapiro   May 19, 2015

[Keystone, Colorado, May 19, 2015] – The Honey Bee Health Coalition applauded the announcement of the National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and other Pollinators and the accompanying Pollinator Research Action Plan, released today by President Barack Obama’s Pollinator Health Task Force.  The Strategy represents a critical step in improving the health of honey bees and other pollinators that support billions of dollars annually in U.S. and Canadian agriculture. The Strategy sets clear goals for pollinator health that underscore the importance of the Honey Bee Health Coalition’s ongoing work.  The Honey Bee Health Coalition commends the Task Force for its emphasis on public-private partnerships to improve pollinator health and stands ready to provide coordination and leadership.  The Strategy specifically cites the Coalition as an example of a public-private partnership and vehicle for collaboration, outreach, and education.

“The Strategy released by the National Pollinator Health Task Force underscore the importance of pollinator health for agriculture and the environment,” said George Hansen, a commercial beekeeper, past president of the American Beekeeping Federation, and a member of the Coalition’s Steering Committee. “As one of the largest and most diverse public-private partnerships already working to address honey bee health across agriculture, the Honey Bee Health Coalition is eager and ready to support the implementation of the Strategy.  In fact, the Coalition is already working to advance collaborative solutions and is poised to drive commitments and positive impacts on the ground.”

Agriculture, healthy lifestyles, and worldwide food security rely on honey bee health.  The Honey Bee Health Coalition works at the intersection of honey bee health and agriculture...

Read more... http://honeybeehealthcoalition.org/honey-bee-health-coalition-task-force-strategy-response/

New Coalition Brings Together Diverse Stakeholders to Improve Honey Bee Health

The following is brought to us by the American Bee Journal.   June 18, 2014

KEYSTONE, CO, June 18, 2014 – At the Saint Louis Zoo’s Annual Pollinator Dinner last night, The Keystone Center announced the formation of a new Honey Bee Health Coalition. Recognizing that declines in honey bee and pollinator health have put agriculture, healthy ecosystems, and worldwide food security at risk, this diverse coalition was formed to promote collaborative solutions. 

Ed Spevak of the Saint Louis Zoo’s WildCare Institute Center for Native Pollinator Conservation and the Zoo’s Curator of Invertebrates introduced the Honey Bee Health Coalition, noting that it brings together beekeepers, growers, researchers, government agencies, agribusinesses, conservation groups, manufacturers and consumer brands, and other key partners in the U.S. and Canada to improve the health of honey bees and other pollinators, ecosystems, and the security of our food supply. Approximately 80% of flowering plants rely on the honey bee and other native and managed pollinators; these plants include crops like almonds, apples, blueberries, cherries, cranberries, squashes, tomatoes, and alfalfa among many others.
 
“We helped found this Coalition because honey bees support approximately $18 billion of United States food production annually,” said Randy Verhoek, president of the American Honey Producers Association. “In the United States, approximately 30% of managed honey bees now die each winter,” he continued, “compared to around 15% that beekeepers consider acceptable. This makes it increasingly difficult for beekeepers to stay in business, hurting not only the beekeepers and their families but also the farmers and agricultural communities that rely on those bees to pollinate crops.”
 
“If we do not act collaboratively to find solutions that work for all involved, honey bee health, the ability to produce fruits, nuts and vegetables, and the ability to sustain ecosystems and the economy will all be impacted,” said Jerry Hayes, Honey Bee Health Lead for Monsanto. “A healthy bee population is imperative for our industry and for our supply chain, and we need collaboration across stakeholders. This coalition is a great step in this direction.”
 
“The Coalition has already made important progress in identifying critical areas for collaboration, including bee forage and nutrition, crop pest management, hive management, and outreach, education and communications,” said Richard Joost, Director of Research for the United Soybean Board. “The Coalition will address these critical areas by building consensus on key strategies, creating a platform for collaboration, and funding partnerships, pilots, and programs.”
 
The idea for the Coalition first took shape as part of a Clinton Global Initiative Commitment in 2013. In a very short period of time the coalition members have turned that idea into a reality. 

Coalition members currently include the Agricultural Retailers Association, the Almond Board of California, the American Beekeeping Federation, the American Honey Producers Association, the American Seed Trade Association, Bayer CropScience, Browning Honey Company, the Canadian Honey Council, CropLife America, CropLife Canada, Ducks Unlimited, DuPont, Eastern Missouri Beekeepers Association, Land O’Lakes, Inc., Monsanto Company, the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, Pheasants Forever, Project Apis m., the Saint Louis Zoo’s WildCare Institute Center for Native Pollinator Conservation, Syngenta, Unilever, United Soybean Board, the University of Maryland’s Department of Entomology, and the U.S. Canola Association. The Coalition also includes ex officio participation from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
 
Funding has been provided by the Agricultural Retailers Association, the American Honey Producers Association, Bayer CropScience, CropLife America, DuPont, Eastern Missouri Beekeepers Association, Land O’Lakes, Inc., Monsanto, Syngenta, Unilever, and the United Soybean Board.
 
About the Honey Bee Health Coalition
The Honey Bee Health Coalition brings together beekeepers, growers, researchers, government agencies, agribusinesses, conservation groups, manufacturers and brands, and other key partners to improve the health of honey bees and other pollinators. Our mission is to collaboratively implement solutions that will help to achieve a healthy population of honey bees while also supporting healthy populations of native and managed pollinators in the context of productive agricultural systems and thriving ecosystems. The Coalition is focusing on accelerating collective impact to improve honey bee health in four key areas: forage and nutrition, hive management, crop pest management, and communications, outreach and education.
 
Through its unique network of private and public sector members, the Coalition will foster new partnerships, leverage existing efforts and expertise, and incubate and implement new solutions. The Coalition will bring its diverse resources to bear in promoting communication,
coordination, collaboration, and investment to strategically and substantively improve honey bee health in North America.
 
The Honey Bee Health Coalition is facilitated by The Keystone Center, an independent, non- profit organization specializing in collaborative decision-making processes for agriculture, environment, education, energy, and health policy issues. To learn more about the Coalition, please visit https://keystone.org/bee-health or contact Julie Shapiro at jshapiro@keystone.org.
Subscribe to the American Bee Journal and sign up for ABJ Extra

Also read at: http://growingwashington.com/news/2014/06/honey-bee-health-coalition-launched/