Research finding new ways to protect pollinator health

A USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture Impact Spotlight

September is National Honey Month and you can’t have honey without honey bees. There are direct links between the health of American agriculture and the health of bees and other pollinators.

Pollination is critical to the production of fruits, vegetables, and nuts, which are important parts of a healthy diet. Pollination by managed honey bee colonies adds at least $15 billion to the value of U.S. agriculture annually through increased yields and superior-quality harvests. Continue reading

EPA proposes to protect bees from acutely toxic pesticides

Proposed restrictions will prohibit use where bees are present for commercial pollination

To further support President Obama’s Federal Pollinator Strategy, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is proposing additional restrictions on the use of acutely toxic pesticides during times when bees are most likely to be present.

Applications of acutely toxic pesticides would be prohibited when flowers are in bloom when bees are brought to farms for pollination services. While the proposed restrictions focus on managed bees, EPA believes that these measures will also protect native bees and other pollinators that are in and around treatment areas.

EPA will accept public comments on the proposal starting May 29, 2015.

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High summer losses of honeybees concerns researchers

In Growing Produce

Beekeepers across the U.S. lost more than 40% of their honey bee colonies from April 2014 to April 2015, according to the latest results of an annual nationwide survey led by University of Maryland professor Dennis vanEngelsdorp. While winter loss rates improved slightly compared to last year, summer losses — and consequently, total annual losses — were more severe.

Commercial beekeepers were hit particularly hard by the high rate of summer losses, which outstripped winter losses for the first time in five years, stoking concerns over the long-term trend of poor health in honey bee colonies.

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Honeybee diseases may strike year-round, research shows

From ARS News

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists in Maryland and their colleagues have found that two pathogens causing mysterious honey bee ailments are a problem not just in the spring, but they might pose a threat year-round. Ryan Schwarz and Jay Evans, entomologists with the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), have shown that two species of bacteria, Spiroplasma melliferum and S. apis, are more common than previously thought and infect honey bees in places as diverse as Brazil and Beltsville, Maryland.

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EPA and USDA to Hold Public Listening Sessions on Pollinator Strategy

Sessions to be held November 12 and 17 in the D.C. metro area 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will host two public listening sessions to solicit stakeholder input to assist the Pollinator Health Task Force in development of a federal strategy to protect honey bees and other pollinators. The Task Force is asking for input on the types of activities that could be part of the strategy, including public private partnerships, research, educational opportunities, pollinator habitat improvements and pesticide risk mitigation.

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Horticulture and Pollinator Groups come together

From Greenhouse Grower

During the week of October 20, AmericanHort participated in the USDA Honeybee Forage Summit and the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign (NAPPC), both held in the Washington, D.C. area.

Many stakeholders were present, including representatives from federal agencies, non-governmental organizations, beekeepers and other agricultural interests.

Read the rest of the story in Greenhouse Grower.

Protecting Bees Through Informed Pesticide Choices

In Greenhouse Grower

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Producing crops to meet consumer quality demands means that growers may use chemicals to control pests and diseases. Some of these products may be harmful to bees if used incorrectly. To demonstrate good environmental stewardship, growers need an understanding of the issues presenting risks to bees and of strategies to minimize the risks. Knowing where to find key product information and how to interpret it can help growers make sound choices regarding the application of effective products. Continue reading