Envisioning the Future of Beekeeping - A 3 Part Series

Pollinator Stewardship Council / Pollinator News                       August 3, 2018

Envisioning the Future of Beekeeping- a 3 part series 

Tammy Horn Potter, Kentucky State Apiarist, and Michele Colopy, Pollinator Stewardship Council collaborated on a series of articles discussing the future of beekeeping. The co-authors interviewed a dozen beekeepers across the US for the June, July, and August issues of the American Bee Journal.  You can read the three articles at:  Articles 1 & 2      Article 3  

To read the discussion, to continue the discussion, to participate in the discussion begun by these interviews, go to our Facebook page. Select the FORUM page on the left side of our Facebook page at  https://www.facebook.com/PollinatorsStewardship/   or at  https://www.facebook.com/PollinatorStewardshipCouncil/

How do you envision the future of beekeeping?


(The Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association is a proud supporter of the Pollinator Stewardship Council.)

Quick Guide to Reporting a Pesticide-Related Bee Kill Incident

California State Beekeepers Association   By Joy Pendell

"If you have had a pesticide-kill incident, please report it. Reporting pesticide issues is instrumental in affecting change. There are still many people who do not believe pesticides present an issue for honey bees. Concrete data from multiple sources is needed to change this perception."


Court Agrees: Sulfoxaflor Registration Based on Flawed and Limited Data

CATCH THE BUZZ - September 15, 2015

The Pollinator Stewardship Council is pleased with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion concerning the registration of sulfoxaflor.  Our argument, presented by Earthjustice attorney, Greg Loarie, addressed our concerns that EPA’s decision process to unconditionally register Sulfoxaflor was based on flawed and limited data, and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with us.

Beekeepers WON!  The registration of a highly toxic pesticide to honey bees has been revoked due to the flawed and limited data collected and reviewed by EPA.

We can protect crops from pests and protect honey bees and native pollinators.  To do this, EPA’s pesticide application and review process must receive substantial scientific evidence as to the benefits of a pesticide, as well as the protection of the environment, especially the protection of pollinators. Sulfoxaflor was “registered” for use on cotton, soybeans, citrus, pome/stone fruits, nuts, grapes, potatoes, vegetables, and strawberries.

“Without sufficient data, the EPA has no real idea whether sulfoxaflor will cause unreasonable adverse effects on bees, as prohibited by FIFRA. Accordingly, the EPA’s decision to register sulfoxaflor was not supported by substantial evidence.” (Pollinator Stewardship Council v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; No. 13-72346, pg. 24, 25; Sept. 10, 2015)

“I am inclined to believe the EPA instead decided to register sulfoxaflor unconditionally in response to public pressure for the product and attempted to support its decision retroactively with studies it had previously found inadequate.  Such action seems capricious.” (Pollinator Stewardship Council v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; No. 13-72346, pg. 33; Sept. 10, 2015)

Read at: http://goo.gl/uNrGqK

Which nonprofit should I support?

Pollinator News - August 21, 2015


Pollinator this, Pollinator that -- which nonprofit should I support?

Recently, beekeepers have inquired about the confusing plethora of nonprofits for bees.  With forty-one different nonprofits with bees, pollinators, or support thereof in their name or mission, it is a crowded nonprofit world.  Some nonprofit organizations work for the benefit of beekeepers, honey bees, and native pollinators.  Other nonprofits may be environmentally supportive groups, of which honey bees comprise an aspect of their efforts. Not all of the beekeeping/honey bee/pollinator nonprofits have beekeepers as staff, Board members, or advisors.
Nonprofit requirements and nonprofit financial records
All nonprofits are required to register their organization in their “home” state, and with the Internal Revenue Service.  Not all nonprofits are aware of this, nor do all nonprofits comply with this guideline. National nonprofits are also required to register in 38 different states, if the nonprofit is raising money on a website and anyone in any state can make a donation. Again, not all nonprofits know of the “Charleston Principle” requiring these additional registrations, but the fines for not registering are far too costly.

You can review the financial information of any nonprofit organization through a number of websites listed.  Some websites charge a fee for complete access to information, and other websites do not.  Typical practice of nonprofits is to simply post their annual 990 on their own website for ready access to prospective donors.

IRS Master File (Search by the state in which the nonprofit was registered)  

Economic Research Institute 


If an organization receives less than $25,000 in annual revenue they are typically not required to submit an annual 990 IRS tax return. If you cannot find a 990 report on a nonprofit they either are not receiving more than $25K in donations, or their staff/volunteers do not know or want to bother with filing annual reports (which is in violation of IRS nonprofit guidelines).  

MOUs and other collaborations
Some nonprofits may have “memorandums of understanding” (MOUs) to work with other nonprofits or for-profit companies.   These MOUs will define the type of “working relationship” between the entities. Typically, the MOUs are between entities with very similar missions, and they collaborate to gain strength as nonprofits.  Funders want nonprofits to collaborate on projects, programs, or actions simply due to the limited funds available to nonprofits.  A nonprofit, like any business, needs to survive its first five years in order to be viewed as supported by the public/constituents, and show grant funders the organization is well-managed, and fulfilling a mission that meets a need. 

Funding sources
Historically, nonprofits receive corporate foundation grants from corporations that are viewed as “causing the problem,” and are sometimes the reason the nonprofit developed in the first place.   Nonprofits should not be “tainted” because they are receiving funding from those corporate foundations.  Many nonprofits in the U.S. often receive funding from the very same corporations the nonprofit cites as “causing the problem.”   The Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) of 1977 helped to create the “strange bedfellows” of housing advocates and big banks.   The CRA required financial institutions to use their corporate foundations to provide funding support of nonprofits, who in turn provided financial literacy programs, affordable housing for the poor, supportive housing for the disabled and mentally ill, home repair programs for the elderly, and more.  These housing advocates were not “tainted” by the association with the funding from the big banks.  The housing advocates today work with the big banks, but also continue to hold them accountable for their actions.   And these funding situations of “strange bedfellows” continues in a variety of nonprofits supporting the work of these nonprofits, but not influencing the work.  Funding for nonprofits is comprised of grants, corporate support, donations from individuals, and possibly program income.  For the first 3-5 years a new nonprofit relies “on the kindness of strangers” and donations from generous individuals.  Foundation leaders want to see a 990 report showing strong support from individual donors, which tells the Foundation the community supports this nonprofit, and there is a need for the nonprofit.

Corporate or Private Foundation grants
The criteria of any funding support is in the grant application for the funds.  A good nonprofit manager (and a good donor) will always abide by the description of the program or project to support with NO influence as to the outcomes. Sadly, some nonprofits and donors think a donation “buys them influence.”  It should not!  If it does, that nonprofit is violating its mission, violating the trust of its donors/members, and is an unethical and unprofessional nonprofit.

Typically, a nonprofit writes a grant application to a corporate foundation.  That grant application by the nonprofit defines the project seeking funding support, the objectives of the project, the timeline, service population, and projected outcomes.  The corporate foundation does not adjust the goals of the project, they only choose to award funding or not based on the application by the nonprofit.  All grant funded projects are evaluated at the end of the grant, and a final report submitted to the funder on the success of the project they helped to support.  The funder does not influence the evaluation of the grant project; if they try to, a reputable nonprofit will ignore it.    It is RARE that one single funder financially supports an entire project.  Typically, grant writers have to write three times as many grants needed in order to be awarded enough grant funding to support a project.  Reputable funders, whether corporate foundations, individuals, or private foundations, would find it unethical to attempt to “influence” the actions of a nonprofit through monetary donations. 

Sure, politics will often get in the way.  Especially when it is the local government handing out the funding.  The “influence” typically meted out is simply “denial of funding support.”  No matter who holds the purse strings, funds can either be awarded on a fair and competitive basis, or depending on local politics, is only awarded to those who “do not make waves.”  It is only AFTER funds may be awarded, if a governmental entity attempts to violate the grant contract through “influence,” is when a reputable, honorable nonprofit should “make waves.”  Influence such as that is a violation of the grant contract, and the public’s trust.  Most nonprofits will let other nonprofits know who are the funders of “ill repute,” and nonprofits will cease to work with those funders.

Bottom line--Which nonprofit should you support?
You should support the nonprofit that supports you.  Nonprofits typically have only their “service” to provide to donors: their education programs, advocacy work, and their support of what concerns you.  Their service to you, and for you is the “product” they have to “sell.”   Support the nonprofit that supports you.  If you are still unsure ask yourself some questions to determine where to make your donations:

•    Does the nonprofit support my concerns?
•    Does the nonprofit act on its mission through its program or project activities?
•    Does the nonprofit collaborate with others?
•    Does the nonprofit respond to me when I contact them?
•    Does the nonprofit support local, state, or national issues? And, are those issues of concern to me?
•    Did the nonprofit file their IRS 990 and can I easily find it through the internet, or on their own website?
•    Does this nonprofit support other groups/programs I support, such as educational meetings, conferences, industry events, and does the nonprofit participate in person at these events?
•    And the most important question: what do others think of the nonprofit?

The general definition of a nonprofit organization is for “the purpose of serving a public or mutual benefit other than the pursuit or accumulation of profits for owners or investors.”  (Kate Luckert Graduate Student, Case Western Reserve University, http://learningtogive.org/papers/paper41.html )

Nonprofit organizations are publically supported or member supported organizations.  As a donor you should ask these questions, as a member you have a right to know the answers to these questions.  

To review the Pollinator Stewardship Council's IRS 990, learn about our projects, and more, browse our website.

USDA Must Protect Its Scientists

The Pollinator Stewardship Council    By Michele Colopy  May 5, 2015

["Seriously, this has happened and it is important for us to write to our Senators to Take Action." 
Bill Lewis, 2013-2014 President California State Beekeepers Association, Past President Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association, Owner Bill's Bees]  

A recent article in Reuters (http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/03/27/usda-petition-idUSL2N0WT1TQ20150327 ) stated USDA scientists are being harassed and their work is being censored or suppressed, especially work related to insecticides and herbicides. The USDA Inspector General’s office should conduct a thorough investigation into this matter and take necessary steps to ensure the USDA maintains scientific integrity by not interfering with the valuable work of its scientists.

All of the research the USDA conducts must maintain scientific integrity and transparency to ensure it is guiding science-based policy decisions. 

Scientific evidence has implicated insecticides as a leading driver of bee declines, and herbicides as a leading driver of the destruction of pollinator habitat.  Beekeepers, honey producers, and the crops pollinated by managed and native pollinators rely on USDA scientists to protect the health of our food supply.  Honey bees and native bees pollinate one third of the human diet.  For a sustainable and affordable food supply pollinators are key to crop yields, affordable food, and diverse nutritious food.

In March, the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) filed a citizen petition requesting the U.S. Department of Agriculture adopt new policies to increase job protection for government scientists who question the health and safety of agricultural chemicals. The petition urges the agency to adopt policies to specifically prevent the “political suppression or alteration of studies and lay out clear procedures for investigating allegations and of scientific misconduct.”

PEER found more than ten USDA scientists who have faced consequences or investigations, when their work called into question the health and safety of agricultural chemicals. These scientists documented clear actions that violated their scientific integrity, including:
•    USDA officials retracting studies
•    watering down findings
•    removing scientists’ names from authorship
•    delaying approvals for publication of research papers.

The USDA must maintain scientific integrity, and not allow harassment, censorship or suppression of science-based findings.  Please join us in support of USDA scientists.  Email your Senator today urging the USDA Inspector General to take the necessary steps to ensure USDA maintains scientific integrity in the protection of the health and safety of the American public.

Thank you,
Michele Colopy
Program Director
The Pollinator Stewardship Council


Comment Now-Oxalic Acid Registration for Varroa Treatment

Pollinatory Stewardship Council   By Michele Colopy  February 28, 2015

Tennessee State Beekeepers aptly stated in their June 2006 issue of The Antennae 
(http://www.docstoc.com/docs/48358290/Tennessee-Hobbyist-Beekeepers-Association ), “It’s anybody’s guess when oxalic acid will see registration in the USA.  Most likely years, but it will happen.”

Tennessee State Beekeepers predicted it: it has been years, but the U.S. registration of oxalic acid for treating Varroa mites on honey bees is here.

Oxalic Acid has been used in the UK for about ten years; in Europe it has been used for at least 20 years.  It is highly effective; kills varroa by dessicating the mouthparts, and only affects honey bees in a very minor way.  In the UK a beekeeper stated there are three methods of applying oxalic acid:
•    Vaporization  (rarely if ever used these days - too technical, expensive and “fiddly” - hot metals and electricity involved)
•    Spraying  (rarely used - danger of breathing in spray or contaminating eyes)
•    Trickling.   This is the standard method - easy, cheap, no heat or electrics needed, no masks, no eye protection.   With trickling, you simply trickle an oxalic acid/ sugar solution into each “seam” of bees.

For a US beekeeper’s input on using oxalic acid go to Scientific Beekeeping  . . .
http://scientificbeekeeping.com/oxalic-acid-questions-answers-and-more-questions-part-1-of-2-parts/  and http://scientificbeekeeping.com/oxalic-acid-heat-vaporization-and-other-methods-part-2-of-2-parts/  

Approval of the application for the registration of oxalic acid use would give U.S. beekeepers another tool in their fight against Varroa.  It is however, not a remedy which will be utilized by all beekeepers.  Beekeepers know what is best for their honey bees.  A reduction of Varroa mite population is the key to healthy honey bees.  The beekeeper’s voice is the most important one here: make yourself heard. 

Your comments must be received by the EPA by March 6th 

Applications for new active ingredients (Other products are part of this application for “new active ingredients:” the link to the docket is below.)

Make the beekeeper’s voice heard.  Send your comment today.

The process is fairly simple and we have drafted a letter for you:
1.    Copy the text of the Letter Re Oxalic Acid
2.    Select the link to the Docket at Regulations.gov (Below)

Applications for new active ingredients (Other products are part of this application for “new active ingredients:” the link to the docket is below.)

3.    Select the COMMENT NOW button on the right side of your screen   
4.    Paste the letter into the Comment box
5.    Add your own comments
6.    and follow the prompts to submit your comments at Regulations.gov
7.    your comment will appear within 24 hours in the docket.  

Thank you!


Another View on New Insecticide - Flupyradifurone Still Concerning for Honey Bees

American Bee Journal    By Michele Colopy, Program Director, Pollinator Stewardship Council January 22, 2014

The Pollinator Stewardship Council is gravely concerned another systemic insecticide with similar insecticidal activity to neonicotinoids has been registered for seed, soil, and foliar treatments across a variety of crops. This new insecticide is proposed for use before, during and after bloom, three to five times per season.

Our concerns are derived from EPA’s own analysis of this butenolide insecticide.   Flupyradifurone has greater persistence in the water column than sediment, thus exposing honey bees through the ingestion of water with a Flupyradifurone half-life of 330.1 days.  What is also concerning is the research submitted to EPA showed this systemic insecticide may not be acutely toxic upon the first exposure, but the second and third applications show effects upon honey bee mortality, behavior, brood development, and food storage. 

The research concerning the residues of Flupyradifurone in nectar and pollen found different levels of the chemical in pollen and nectar, the level varied per plant, and if the plant had extra nectaries.  Pollen appeared to contain higher levels of Flupyradifurone, than nectar (3.5-106x), and the levels increased with the number of applications of Flupyradifurone.   Table 28 in EPA’s documentation further highlighted this concern as studies showed pollen in various crops showed an increase of Flupyradifurone at the second, and third applications during the same growing season.  Further, the concentration remained high for 1-7 days after the second and third applications (depending on the crop). 

Studies of caged honey bees fed Flupyradifurone do not reflect the real world of honey bees.  Flupyradifurone will be utilized in a tank mix, and effects of Flupyradifurone, its degradates, mixed with herbicides, and fungicides is unknown.  The synergistic effects of these chemicals upon honey bees is unknown; yet that will be how honey bees will encounter this compound.  While a ten-day honey bee feeding study was conducted, what happened at day 16, 21, and 24—developmental stages of honey bees?  To state there were “no consistent adverse effects” except “some increases in mortality and decreases in foraging activity immediately following applications . . . and in some cases there was recovery from the effects on mortality by test termination,” does not inspire confidence in the use of this compound.  EPA questioned the “large variation in starting colony size” and the “low number of replicates per treatment group” which limit the ability to detect the effects of Flupyradifurone.  One study mixing Flupyradifurone with a tebuconazole formulation enhanced the toxicity of Flupyradifurone increasing the toxicity “116-fold and 6.1 fold via the contact and oral routes.”   Relying on the label guideline to protect against mixing Flupyradifurone with azole fungicides is unrealistic.

According to EPA registration review documents,  “Maximum residues in comb pollen, nectar, and wax varied, but generally occurred one week to several months after the second application indicating that residues were translocated within the hives to varying extents.”  Flupyradifurone appears to have pre-lethal effects which long term, replicated studies would reveal.  Even when the studies prescribed Flupyradifurone based on the body weight of the honey bee there was increased worker mortality, decreased flight activity, and brood numbers varied widely during the evaluation periods and after over-wintering.  In one study it showed the “mortality of the test group was 5 times greater than the control group during the 7-day period after 3rd (full bloom) application.” 

While Flupyradifurone is “practically non-toxic to bees on an acute contact exposure basis,” “the greatest area of uncertainty surrounding the potential risk to bee pollinators is for foliar application at full bloom.”  “In addition, pollen, nectar, and wax residue data from one of the full field studies with Flupyradifurone (MRIDs 48844517) indicate that average residues did not reach their maxima until up to several months after the pesticide was applied.
The use of Flupyradifurone upon such a wide array of crops will translocate to pollinator forage areas developed through Federal and State initiatives.  Its mobility in water will affect honey bees, and other pollinators.  The repeated use of Flupyradifurone has shown to increase its toxicity with each application with a half-life of one application lasting 3-951 days in the plants, soil, and water.  The use of this compound will further exacerbate the concerns over the honey bees’ food supply: pollen, nectar, and water.
For more information about the EPA’s registration of this pesticide go to http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=EPA-HQ-OPP-2013-0226

Read at... 

Beekeepers Partner with Corporations to Create Pollinator Habitat

CATCH THE BUZZ      By Kim Flottum    December 10, 2014

The Ohio Environmental Education Fund (OEEF) has awarded a grant “Beekeepers Collaborating to Create Pollinator Habitats” to beekeeping groups.  The project is a partnership of Medina County Beekeepers Association, The Ohio State Beekeepers Association, and the Pollinator Stewardship Council.  The project had to secure land partners for the habitat development prior to applying for the grant.  The grant will fund the development of pollinator habitat on 36 acres of corporate land in northeast Ohio and southwest Ohio.  Four corporate land partners have committed to creating and maintaining the habitat for a minimum of five years. The land partners are CEMEX, Inc., Remington Products Company, the Department of Veterans Affairs in Dayton, and Professional Services Providers of Wadsworth, LLC.  The grant will act as a catalyst to educate corporations, their employees, and customers about the need for pollinator habitat, connect beekeeping groups with local corporations, enhance public/private collaborations, and inspire land use changes in support of pollinator habitat.

“Lawns around corporate facilities are a grass desert for pollinators. They do not conserve water, add to the expenses of corporations in weekly mowing,  add to carbon emissions, and  have increased lawn chemical use that can cause concerns in the watershed.” stated Michele Colopy, Program Director of the Pollinator Stewardship Council, and regular contributor to Bee Culture Magazine.

“This grant is a wonderful opportunity for our local beekeeping clubs to build collaborative relationships with local businesses in order to support the health of our community.  Additional forage for pollinators will increase honey production, and support the pollinators so important to the floral success of our community gardens.” commented Terry Lieberman-Smith, Vice President of the Ohio State Beekeepers Association.

The pollinator habitat will be created on private land, however beekeepers will have access to it.  The land partners will contract with local beekeepers to place bee hives on the property.  The grant will also provide nesting areas for native pollinators.  Citizen Scientists will survey the land twice a year for the five years noting the diversity of insects, and other animal life that are utilizing the habitat.  This data will be available in a public database.  Educational materials will be provided to the corporate partners to share with their employees and customers.  The local bee clubs will provide scholarships to four 4-H students within the land partner areas, with the 4-H students writing articles for the corporate newsletters about honey bees and their beekeeping experience. The beekeeping partners will encourage other corporations to convert their grassy lawns into pollinator habitat through presentations about the project.

Peggy Garnes, President of the Medina County Beekeepers Association and advertising Director for Bee Culture Magazine, expressed excitement at the connections made by this program.  “This is a wonderful partnership of beekeepers and corporations coming together to support honey bees and native pollinators so important to our local beekeepers, gardeners, and farmers.”

As the program had to secure land partners prior to applying for the grant, the project cannot accept any other land partners at this time.  The Pollinator Stewardship Council, who wrote the grant, expects this project will serve as a pilot program adaptable in other states.  If your State Beekeeping organization is interested in a similar program in your state, contact the Pollinator Stewardship Council directly at progdirector@pollinatorstewardship.org or 832-727-9492.

Available online at http://live.ezezine.com/ezine/archives/1636/1636-2014.

Find out more about Bee Culture Magazine at www.BeeCulture.com

Pesticide Free Forage - In Your Front Yard!

Pollinator Stewardship Council  By Michele Colopy  August 8, 2014

As beekeepers we need to set an example, and start planting forage for our bees. Whether you live on a city lot, have an acre in the suburbs, or a small farm in the country, you too can provide, should provide, pesticide free forage for your honey bees and native pollinators.

After clarifying city regulations it was determined lawn grass could not exceed eight inches in height in my city, but flowers had no height restriction. So, I could provide pesticide free forage for pollinators in the city. To kill the grass in the front yard it was covered with clear plastic to solarize the lawn.  The lawn was solarized over eight weeks, killing the grass. After eight weeks the plastic was removed, the dead grass mowed and raked off the lawn. No herbicides were used, nor was the soil tilled. A path across the yard was made for the postal carrier so they would not trample any flowers. Seeds were mixed, per the directions, with sand, and spread across the “yard.” A pollinator mix, and a butterfly and hummingbird seed mix were combined. Within 10 days the seeds had sprouted. Within a month the yard was filling in with a variety of flowers. By the end of July you can see a floral variety has blossomed. All of the pollinators are enjoying the flowers. A bumble bee nest has developed at the side of the house so they can easily access pollen and nectar. The front yard is visited by large and small native bees, my Italian honey bees, butterflies, sulfurs, and more.

Read at: http://pollinatorstewardship.org/?p=2590

Report Bee Kills. Support Funding Evidence Kills

This message brought to us by CATCH THE BUZZ: Kim Flottum,  Bee Culture, The Magazine Of American Beekeeping, published by the A.I. Root Company. Twitter.FacebookBee Culture’s Blog.
Available online at http://home.ezezine.com/1636/1636-2014.  August 4, 2014  

Bee kills reported to the Pollinator Stewardship Council last year came from thirteen states and totaled 14,976 colonies. During the spring of 2014 bee kills reported to us totalled 89,000 colonies in five states. These bee kills were obvious with piles of dead bees at the entrance, dead brood inside the hive, dead adult bees inside the hive, and often dead queens as well. Not all of the bees, wax, and pollen from bee kills was collected for lab analysis due simply to the cost. If a beekeeper’s bees are harmed by the actions of others, the beekeeper must pay $300-plus upfront to have the bees tested for pesticide levels. This is cost prohibitive for many, as that $300 is needed to replace that now weakened or dead bee colony.

The science behind the lab tests is important to help beekeepers, and growers, understand the environment of the honey bee. The real-world of tank-mixed pesticides, of “other ingredients” in pesticides with unknown, un-tested toxicity levels, of pesticide coated seeds wherein the pesticide is often exuded through the pollen and nectar of the plant, are at the root of the health decline of honey bees.

Help us provide the science of the real world of honey bees. We want to provide 200 bee kill evidence kits and the lab analysis for pesticide-related bee kills. Support our work to provide the scientific analysis of the real-world pesticide exposure of honey bees in rural, suburban, and urban areas.Help us protect pollinators. The bees you help today, will be able to pollinate your food tomorrow.

Support our work: Make a donation today to provide bee kill evidence kits and lab analysis.

Take action: Send a letter to EPA Administrator, Gina McCarthy requesting protection for honey bees and native pollinators, and cease the application of bee toxic pesticides on bee attractive plants in bloom with NO exceptions.

Email your friends about our work, about honey bees. . . post this to your Facebook page.

Presidential Memorandum -- Creating a Federal Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators

The White House                                  June 20, 2014
Office of the Press Secretary 

SUBJECT: Creating a Federal Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators

Pollinators contribute substantially to the economy of the United States and are vital to keeping fruits, nuts, and vegetables in our diets. Honey bee pollination alone adds more than $15 billion in value to agricultural crops each year in the United States. Over the past few decades, there has been a significant loss of pollinators, including honey bees, native bees, birds, bats, and butterflies, from the environment. The problem is serious and requires immediate attention to ensure the sustainability of our food production systems, avoid additional economic impact on the agricultural sector, and protect the health of the environment.

Pollinator losses have been severe. The number of migrating Monarch butterflies sank to the lowest recorded population level in 2013-14, and there is an imminent risk of failed migration. The continued loss of commercial honey bee colonies poses a threat to the economic stability of commercial beekeeping and pollination operations in the United States, which could have profound implications for agriculture and food. Severe yearly declines create concern that bee colony losses could reach a point from which the commercial pollination industry would not be able to adequately recover. The loss of native bees, which also play a key role in pollination of crops, is much less studied, but many native bee species are believed to be in decline. Scientists believe that bee losses are likely caused by a combination of stressors, including poor bee nutrition, loss of forage lands, parasites, pathogens, lack of genetic diversity, and exposure to pesticides.

Given the breadth, severity, and persistence of pollinator losses, it is critical to expand Federal efforts and take new steps to reverse pollinator losses and help restore populations to healthy levels. These steps should include the development of new public-private partnerships and increased citizen engagement. Therefore, by the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, I hereby direct the following:

Section 1. Establishing the Pollinator Health Task Force. There is hereby established the Pollinator Health Task Force (Task Force), to be co-chaired by the Secretary of Agriculture and the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. In addition to the Co-Chairs, the Task Force shall also include the heads, or their designated representatives, from: ???

(a) the Department of State;
(b) the Department of Defense;
(c) the Department of the Interior;
(d) the Department of Housing and Urban Development;
(e) the Department of Transportation;
(f) the Department of Energy;
(g) the Department of Education;
(h) the Council on Environmental Quality;
(i) the Domestic Policy Council;
(j) the General Services Administration;
(k) the National Science Foundation;
(l) the National Security Council Staff;
(m) the Office of Management and Budget;
(n) the Office of Science and Technology Policy; and
(o) such executive departments, agencies, and offices as the Co-Chairs may designate.

Sec. 2. Mission and Function of the Task Force. Within 180 days of the date of this memorandum, the Task Force shall develop a National Pollinator Health Strategy (Strategy), which shall include explicit goals, milestones, and metrics to measure progress. The Strategy shall include the following components:

(a) Pollinator Research Action Plan. The Strategy shall include an Action Plan (Plan) to focus Federal efforts on understanding, preventing, and recovering from pollinator losses. The Plan shall be informed by research on relevant topics and include:

(i) studies of the health of managed honey bees and native bees, including longitudinal studies, to determine the relative contributions of, and mitigation strategies for, different stressors leading to species declines and colony collapse disorder, including exposure to pesticides, poor nutrition, parasites and other pests, toxins, loss of habitat and reduced natural forage, pathogens, and unsustainable management practices;

(ii) plans for expanded collection and sharing of data related to pollinator losses, technologies for continuous monitoring of honey bee hive health, and use of public-private partnerships, as appropriate, to provide information on the status and trends of managed hive losses;

(iii) assessments of the status of native pollinators, including the Monarch butterfly and bees, and modeling of native pollinator populations and habitats; ???

(iv) strategies for developing affordable seed mixes, including native pollinator-friendly plants, for maintenance of honey bees and other pollinators, and guidelines for and evaluations of the effectiveness of using pollinator-friendly seed mixes for restoration and reclamation projects;

(v) identification of existing and new methods and best practices to reduce pollinator exposure to pesticides, and new cost-effective ways to control bee pests and diseases; and

(vi) strategies for targeting resources toward areas of high risk and restoration potential and prioritizing plans for restoration of pollinator habitat, based on those areas that will yield the greatest expected net benefits.

(b) Public Education Plan. The Strategy shall include plans for expanding and coordinating public education programs outlining steps individuals and businesses can take to help address the loss of pollinators. It shall also include recommendations for a coordinated public education campaign aimed at individuals, corporations, small businesses, schools, libraries, and museums to significantly increase public awareness of the importance of pollinators and the steps that can be taken to protect them.

(c) Public-Private Partnerships. The Strategy shall include recommendations for developing public-private partnerships to build on Federal efforts to encourage the protection of pollinators and increase the quality and amount of habitat and forage for pollinators. In developing this part of the Strategy, the Task Force shall consult with external stakeholders, including State, tribal, and local governments, farmers, corporations, and nongovernmental organizations.

(d) Task Force member agencies shall report regularly to the Task Force on their efforts to implement section 3 of this memorandum.

Sec. 3. Increasing and Improving Pollinator Habitat. Unless otherwise specified, within 180 days of the date of this memorandum:

(a) Task Force member agencies shall develop and provide to the Task Force plans to enhance pollinator habitat, and subsequently implement, as appropriate, such plans on their managed lands and facilities, consistent with their missions and public safety. These plans may include: facility landscaping, including easements; land management; policies with respect to road and other rights-of-way; educational gardens; use of integrated vegetation and pest management; increased native vegetation; and application of pollinator-friendly best management practices and seed mixes. Task Force member agencies shall also review any new or renewing land management contracts and grants for the opportunity to include requirements for enhancing pollinator habitat. ?????

(b) Task Force member agencies shall evaluate permit and management practices on power line, pipeline, utility, and other rights-of-way and easements, and, consistent with applicable law, make any necessary and appropriate changes to enhance pollinator habitat on Federal lands through the use of integrated vegetation and pest management and pollinator-friendly best management practices, and by supplementing existing agreements and memoranda of understanding with rights-of-way holders, where appropriate, to establish and improve pollinator habitat.

(c) Task Force member agencies shall incorporate pollinator health as a component of all future restoration and reclamation projects, as appropriate, including all annual restoration plans.

(d) The Council on Environmental Quality and the General Services Administration shall, within 90 days of the date of this memorandum, revise their respective guidance documents for designed landscapes and public buildings to incorporate, as appropriate, pollinator-friendly practices into site landscape performance requirements to create and maintain high quality habitats for pollinators. Future landscaping projects at all Federal facilities shall, to the maximum extent appropriate, use plants beneficial to pollinators.

(e) The Departments of Agriculture and the Interior shall, within 90 days of the date of this memorandum, develop best management practices for executive departments and agencies to enhance pollinator habitat on Federal lands.

(f) The Departments of Agriculture and the Interior shall establish a reserve of native seed mixes, including pollinator-friendly plants, for use on post-fire rehabilitation projects and other restoration activities.

(g) The Department of Agriculture shall, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, substantially increase both the acreage and forage value of pollinator habitat in the Department's conservation programs, including the Conservation Reserve Program, and provide technical assistance, through collaboration with the land-grant university-based cooperative extension services, to executive departments and agencies, State, local, and tribal governments, and other entities and individuals, including farmers and ranchers, in planting the most suitable pollinator-friendly habitats.

(h) The Department of the Interior shall assist States and State wildlife organizations, as appropriate, in identifying and implementing projects to conserve pollinators at risk of endangerment and further pollinator conservation through the revision and implementation of individual State Wildlife Action Plans. The Department of the Interior shall, upon request, provide technical support for these efforts, and keep the Task Force apprised of such collaborations.

(i) The Department of Transportation shall evaluate its current guidance for grantees and informational resources to identify opportunities to increase pollinator habitat along roadways and implement improvements, as appropriate. The Department of Transportation shall work with State Departments of Transportation and transportation associations to promote pollinator-friendly practices and corridors. The Department of Transportation shall evaluate opportunities to make railways, pipelines, and transportation facilities that are privately owned and operated aware of the need to increase pollinator habitat.

(j) The Department of Defense shall, consistent with law and the availability of appropriations, support habitat restoration projects for pollinators, and shall direct military service installations to use, when possible, pollinator-friendly native landscaping and minimize use of pesticides harmful to pollinators through integrated vegetation and pest management practices.

(k) The Army Corps of Engineers shall incorporate conservation practices for pollinator habitat improvement on the 12 million acres of lands and waters at resource development projects across the country, as appropriate.

(l) The Environmental Protection Agency shall assess the effect of pesticides, including neonicotinoids, on bee and other pollinator health and take action, as appropriate, to protect pollinators; engage State and tribal environmental, agricultural, and wildlife agencies in the development of State and tribal pollinator protection plans; encourage the incorporation of pollinator protection and habitat planting activities into green infrastructure and Superfund projects; and expedite review of registration applications for new products targeting pests harmful to pollinators.

(m) Executive departments and agencies shall, as appropriate, take immediate measures to support pollinators during the 2014 growing season and thereafter. These measures may include planting pollinator-friendly vegetation and increasing flower diversity in plantings, limiting mowing practices, and avoiding the use of pesticides in sensitive pollinator habitats through integrated vegetation and pest management practices.

Sec. 4. General Provisions.

(a) This memorandum shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.

(b) Nothing in this memorandum shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:

(i) the authority granted by law to any agency, or the head thereof; or

(ii) the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.

(c) Nothing in this memorandum shall be construed to require the disclosure of confidential business information or trade secrets, classified information, law enforcement sensitive information, or other information that must be protected in the interest of national security or public safety.

(d) This memorandum is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person. ???

(e) The Secretary of Agriculture is hereby authorized and directed to publish this memorandum in the Federal Register.


Read at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/06/20/presidential-memorandum-creating-federal-strategy-promote-health-honey-b


Are Your Delicious, Healthy Almonds Killing Bees?

Mother Jones   By Tom Philpott   April 28, 2014

California dominates almond production like Saudi Arabia wishes it dominated oil. More than 80 percent of the almonds consumed on Planet Earth hail from there. Boosted by surging demand from China—overall, 70 percent of the state's output is exported—California's almond groves are expanding. The delicious nut's acreage grew 25 percent between 2006 and 2013. In a previous post, I noted how the almond boom is helping fuel a potentially disastrous water-pumping frenzy in a drought-stricken state.

Now comes more unsettling news: California's almond groves are being blamed for a large recent honeybee die-off.

What do almond trees have to do with honeybees? It turns out that when you grow almond trees in vast monocrops, pollination from wild insects doesn't do the trick. Each spring, it takes 1.6 million honeybee hives to pollinate the crop—about a million of which must be trucked in from out of state. Altogether, the crop requires the presence of a jaw-dropping 60 percent of the managed honeybees in the entire country, the US Department of Agricultural reports.

A mutual dependence has arisen between the state's almond growers and the nation's apiaries. For the 1,500 beekeepers who deliver "pollination services" to the almond industry each year, the gig provides 60 percent of their annual income—more lucrative, in other words, than selling the honey they produce, reportsthe Bakersfield Californian, a newspaper in the heart of almond country. "Without the almond industry, the bee industry wouldn't exist," one large-scale beekeeper told the paper in February.

But this year, something has gone wrong. According to the Pollinator Stewardship Council, somewhere between 15 percent and 25 percent of the beehives in almond groves suffered "severe" damage during the bloom, ranging from complete hive collapse to dead and deformed brood (the next generation of bees incubating in the hive).

Eric Mussen, a bee expert at the University of California-Davis since 1976, told me that there have been isolated die-offs on recent years, but this year's troubles have been "much more widespread…the worst we've ever seen."

The Pollinator Stewardship Council blames the cocktail of pesticides—insecticides and fungicides—almond growers use to keep their crops humming, and Mussen thinks the group may have a point.

He told me that several years ago, beekeepers in almond-heavy Glenn County began having problems keeping their brood alive, as well as with developing new queens. They began to fear that the trouble came from a widely used fungicide called Pristine, marketed by the German chemical giant BASF, for almonds. The company, which claims Pristine is harmless to bees, sent representatives to the county to collect almond pollen samples. In them, Mussen told me, they found "significant" levels of an insecticide called diflubenzuron. (Here's a copy of an email from January 2013 that Mussen circulated on the topic.) The catch is that its maker, Chemtura, insists that diflubenzuron, too, is harmless to bees.

If the two pesticides are safe for bees on their own, what's the problem? Mussen says that almond growers are combining them along with substances called adjuvants—which are used to enhance the performance of pesticides—and then spraying the resulting cocktail on crops. "It now seems that when you roll these three things together, it has very negative consequences on the bees," Mussen told me.  

He explained that originally, adjuvants were used to help spread pesticides more evenly. Sprayed on their own, pesticides tend to form into discrete droplets on a plant's leaves that might not come into contact with insects or mold spores. Mixed with adjuvant, pesticides coat leaves evenly, making them more effective.

In recent years, the industry has come out with what Mussen calls "super-duper" adjuvants, that not only coat leaves but also penetrate them—which is desirable for growers because it prevents expensive agrichemicals from being washed away by rain or degraded by sun.

For bees, though, that development might be bad news. Mussen says it's possible that the bees' own skin tissues had been blocking the pesticides—until the new-and-improved adjuvants gave them a pathway inside. Also, he added, the chemicals "have some pretty potent material in them that we believe could be toxic to honeybees."

Mussen pointed me to a 2012 paper, published in the peer-reviewed PLOS ONE by Penn State University researchers, which found that, when consumed at low doses, new-wave adjuvants inhibit bees' ability to learn how to forage, compromising the long-term health of the hive. (Penn State's press release on the paper has more explanation; and here's more still from the research team itself.)

And while pesticides have to go through a registration process with the Environmental Protection Agency before they can be unleashed upon the world, adjuvants are considered "inert" ingredients and aren't subjected to EPA review, Mussen said. And while the EPA process for assessing the impact of pesticides on honeybees is deeply flawed, as I have shown before, at least there's a process in place. For adjuvants, there's no bee testing at all, he added. And by adding them to pesticide mixes and spraying them on almond trees, farmers aren't breaking any California or USDA rules.

It all adds up to yet another pathway linking pesticide cocktails and our beleaguered honeybee population. Pesticides and fungicides widely used in Midwestern corn and soybean fields have been shown to damage bee health—and these operations are also increasingly using adjuvants in their pesticide mixes, too. The above-mentioned PLOS ONE paper concluded that these unregulated chemicals may "contribute to the ongoing global decline in honey bee health." But corn and soybean farmers don't need bees to achieve their harvests. That bee-reliant almond growers would engage in practices that might severely harm bees…well, that's just nuts.

Read at:  http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2014/04/california-almond-farms-blamed-honeybee-die

Huge Bee Kill in Almonds

This message brought to us by CATCH THE BUZZ: Kim Flottom,  Bee Culture, The Magazine Of American Beekeeping, published by the A.I. Root Company. Twitter.FacebookBee Culture’s Blog

What Happens In Almonds Doesn’t Stay In Almonds. This Year’s Devastating Bee Kill In California Hurts Apples, Cranberries, Blueberries…and Beekeepers.

News Release From The Pollinator Stewardship Council.

The last two weeks the Pollinator Stewardship Council has received reports of bee kills at the end of the almond bloom. A meeting with EPA was held by Pollinator Stewardship Council and the American Beekeeping Federation, Monday, March 24 in Los Banos, California to discuss the pollinator losses during almond pollination. More than seventy beekeepers attended in person and on a conference call.

Bees were released from almond pollination, and beekeepers began to see the effects of a tank mix that caused dead adult bees, and dead, dying, and deformed brood. A poll taken of the seventy-five beekeepers at the meeting showed 80,000 colonies damaged: 75% of them severely damaged. Additional reports place an average loss of 60% of hives in almonds were impacted. Of that 60%, 40% lost adult bees and had dying brood, 20% of the hives were dead completely. These losses were experienced by beekeepers who wintered in California, as well as those who brought their bees into almonds from southern states.

The meeting addressed the bee kills in almonds, and the new label language for foliar applications of clothianidin, dinotefuran, imidacloprid, thiamethoxam, and the two new products tolfenpyrad and cyantraniliprole. (read that here) The majority of the meeting addressed the damages beekeepers suffered from a tank mix that included an insect growth regulator (IGR) and a fungicide. The tank mix was applied “per the label.” However, the IGR has decimated the ability of beekeepers to make splits for the next crop pollination, to breed queens, or to make packages of bees. Many beekeepers expressed grave concern that the tank mix was applied in one area, but honey bees from other orchards, under another grower’s pollination contract received damaged due to drift, and foraging range. Some of the bee damage was not evident until truckloads of bees returned to their southern homes. The effects of fungicides and IGRs were delayed just enough beekeepers did not realize the impact until their hives were released from pollinating almonds. Research has shown fungicides are detrimental to pollinators. (Fungicides can reduce, hinder pollination potential of honey bees http://westernfarmpress.com/fungicides-can-reduce-hinder-pollination-potential-honey-bees)

Research and experience has shown night applications of pesticides in almonds causes less damage to pollinators. Beekeepers at the Los Banos meeting stated they have been experiencing damage to their bees in almonds for six years. The damages decreased when growers applied products at night, or did not apply any products during the bloom; but this year some practices changed, and bees were heavily impacted. The impact was so great a few beekeepers said they would not return to almonds, as they cannot take these losses to their bees and their business.

The bee kills in almonds at the end of this season were due to products used “per the label.” The fungicides, the IGRs were all used per the label. The tank mixing of products were all used per the label. Directions on pesticide labels generally state the herbicide, fungicide, insecticide “is physically and biologically compatible with many registered pesticides, fertilizers or micronutrients . . . If you have no experience with the combination you are considering, you should conduct a test to determine physical compatibility. To determine physical compatibility, add the recommended proportions of each chemical with the same proportion of water as will be present in the chemical supply tank into a suitable container, mix thoroughly, and allow to stand for five minutes. If the combination remains mixed, or can be readily re-mixed, the mixture is considered physically compatible.” One beekeeper described tank mixing this way, “The pesticide label basically instructs you to take a quart jar and mix the products you want to use into the jar. If it does not ‘blow-up’ go ahead and mix the full chemicals and apply to the crop.” (Pesticide Mixtures Have Damaging Effects on Bees http://extension.psu.edu/pests/ipm/news/2013/pesticide-mixtures-have-damaging-affects-on-bees)

Last week we reported the EPA stated the new pesticide label language will now only be required for foliar applications of clothianidin, dinotefuran, imidacloprid, thiamethoxam, and the two new products tolfenpyrad and cyantraniliprole. At the Los Banos meeting the representatives from EPA stated they had not seen a letter from Mr. Jim Jones to the bee industry, and they were not aware of the issues the bee industry had concerning the new label language. (Jim Jones’ letter was posted on our Newslist and is available here again). EPA listened politely, but made no promise to do anything, stating that changing label wording is a long and drawn out process, and one that cannot be done quickly. Beekeepers on the other hand did make promises: promises to add a pesticide surcharge to pollination contracts next year; promises that if no enforceable change to labels is made before next years’ pollination to stay in Georgia or Florida and make honey in a safe environment rather than risk another season of severe hive damage. Beekeepers at the meeting asked EPA for two things: adding a statement on the label instructing applicators when and how to apply pesticides to not damage pollinators; and curtail the use of tank mixing.

Paramount Farms, the largest almond grower in the world, testified at the meeting they use nocrop protection products during almond pollination season, and have found their yields improved when they made the decision to better time their pesticide use.

At the Los Banos meeting March 24 the beekeepers did a rough tally of total estimated losses. 1.7M colonies supplied by 1300 commercial beekeepers were needed to pollinate almonds. Even with the drought, all available honey bees were utilized for almond pollination. Of the 1.7M total colonies, it is estimated fifteen to twenty-five percent were damaged (dead, loss of brood, loss of adult foragers in full or in part) which equals 255,000 to 425,000 colonies of honey bees severely impacted in almonds. The conservative value of these losses is $63,750,000 to $106,250,000; however beekeepers are still assessing their damages. This figure does not include the loss of viable colonies to satisfy subsequent pollination contracts. This figure does not take into account the losses in selling bulk packages of honey bees, queens, or frames of brood to establish new hives. With severely damaged hives some beekeepers have been forced to cancel orders.

Almonds are the beginning of the crop pollination season. Almonds are the first crop honey bees pollinate. What happens to honey bees in almonds affects the ability of crop pollination services to apples, cranberries, canola, tangelos, blueberries, squash, watermelon, kiwi, plums, apricots, cherries, seed crops, and so much of our vegetables and fruit. One beekeeper who pollinates Washington apples after almonds was short 1200 hives due to his losses during almond pollination. What happens to honey bees in almonds does not stay in almonds; it affects how many bees are available to pollinate other crops, the cost of pollinating those crops, and the cost of the food you buy to feed your family.

The Pollinator Stewardship Council works with beekeepers to collect reports of bee kills across the U.S. in rural, suburban, and urban areas. Please contact the Pollinator Stewardship Council to file your bee kill report at 832-727-9492 or info@pollinatorstewardship.org .

This ezine is also available online at http://home.ezezine.com/1636/1636-2014.


Bee Keepers Must Move Bees

CATCH THE BUZZ - Kim Flottum    3/20/14

Last fall the EPA published a new pesticide label originally for the foliar application of four neonicotinoid pesticides. By December, the EPA stated this new pesticide label language would be “harmonized” across all chemistries. The label was meant to protect pollinators. 

The Pollinator Stewardship Council with the Bee Industry, sought a response from EPA’s Assistant Administrator clarifying our concerns with the new label. The Pollinator Stewardship Council received an answer from EPA, and Mr. Dave Hackenberg, representing the National Honey Bee Advisory Board, received a different letter from EPA (even though both groups along with AHPA and ABF signed the original letter). Both reply letters are attached.


This message brought to us by CATCH THE BUZZ: Kim Flottum,  Bee Culture, The Magazine Of American Beekeeping, published by the A.I. Root Company. Twitter.FacebookBee Culture’s Blog.