Archives – February, 2015
From: Wisconsin State Farmer
By Jan Shepel
Concern about seed treatments like neonicotinoids and their possible damage to pollinators — especially bees — is a subject farmers should be aware of.
Tom Kroll, seed treatment product manager for Nufarm Americas, Inc., spoke to farmers at the recent Corn/Soy Expo in Wisconsin Dells and mentioned that the concern about seed treatments and their possible impact on bees was largely based on laboratory data.
Kroll said studies in the field in Europe have found that CCD “has nothing to do with the insecticide” and is more about the varroa mite, a parasite of honey bees.
February 27, 2015
From: Inside EPA
Cotton growers are urging EPA not to limit pesticide use in states that are crafting plans to protect pollinators, raising concerns that a forthcoming federal strategy for implementing President Obama’s memo on pollinator protection could curb state efforts to protect bees through better communication between growers and beekeepers.
EPA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) are leading a federal Pollinator Health Task Force that is expected to release in the coming weeks a strategy for implementing President Obama’s June 20 memo on stemming pollinator declines by improving their habitat; assessing how pesticides and other stressors contribute to their declines; and acting where appropriate.
February 25, 2015
Editor’s Note: In comments on EPA’s study of the benefits of neonicotinoid-treated soybean seeds, serious concerns were raised that the agency’s study failed to reflect a thorough, systematic review of the relevant literature. The attached External Scientific Report, commissioned by the European Food Safety Authority, contains a “Systematic literature review on the neonicotinoids (namely active substances clothianidin, thiamethoxam and imidacloprid) and the risks to bees.” Stakeholders now the have the opportunity to review EFSA literature data base. Below is a brief overview of the study.
February 23, 2015
From: Chemical Regulation Reporter
By David Schultz
The Environmental Protection Agency’s top pesticide regulators met privately last month with pesticide industry-funded researchers to hear them make the case for the value of neonicotinoid insecticides, according to documents made public Feb. 10.
The researchers, Paul Mitchell and Pete Nowak from the firm Ag Informatics, were responding to a recently issued EPA study that found treating soybean seeds with neonicotinoids provides farmers with no significant financial or agricultural benefits.
February 20, 2015
by Sylvia Kantor
Paul Stamets has had a life-long love affair with mushrooms, one that goes well beyond their culinary and psychedelic qualities. Wearing his signature hat — made from mushrooms — a turtle pendant and, always, a blue scarf, the nearly 60 year-old mycologist runs Fungi Perfecti, a family-owned farm and business in Shelton, Washington.
Varroa mites spread viruses that can be deadly to bees. Sheppard explained that what keeps many commercial beekeepers up at night is the fact that the pesticides currently used to control mites are becoming ineffective. Mites have such a short life span that they quickly evolve and develop resistance to synthetic pesticides.
February 18, 2015
From: Arista Bee Research
Honey bee populations worldwide, important for pollination of our food crops, are being challenged by a highly damaging mite: Varroa destructor. In an effort coordinated by the Arista Bee Research Foundation a group of European beekeepers has, during last spring and summer, bred a first generation of European honey bees that can detect the Varroa mite, clean out infested brood and by doing so are expected to keep the number of Varroa mites under control. This is an important step in breeding healthier, Varroa resistant honey bees that can much better survive in an already challenging environment.
February 16, 2015
From: Inside EPA
Some state agriculture officials are opposing possible restrictions on pesticide use as part of a federal pollinator protection strategy that EPA and other agencies are expected to release soon, arguing agencies should instead focus on improving coordination between farmers and beekeepers, though advocates contend federal restrictions are necessary.
EPA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture are leading a federal Pollinator Health Task Force in crafting a strategy for implementing President Obama’s June 20 memo on stemming pollinator declines by improving their habitat; assessing how pesticides and other stressors contribute to their declines; and acting where appropriate.
February 13, 2015
From: The Guardian
Bees having to forage younger because older workers have been killed off by disease could be key factor behind colony collapse disorder
Stressed young bees that are forced to grow up too fast could largely account for disastrous declines in populations of the insects around the world, research suggests.
Bees usually begin foraging at two to three weeks old but when older workers are killed off by disease, lack of food or other factors they have to start younger.
Scientists who attached radio tracking devices to thousands of bees found that early-starters completed fewer foraging flights and were more likely to die on their first sortie.
February 10, 2015
From: ABC (Australia) | Rural
By Marty McCarthy
The US state of Hawaii is using selective breeding to win the war against the destructive varroa mite, which is crippling honey bee populations around the world.
The overall significance of honeybees is often overlooked, but keeping up natural bee populations is critical for farmers who need crops to be pollinated.
Australia is still free of varroa destructor, but the major pest has been spreading around the world, including to neighbouring New Zealand and Indonesia.
Dr Danielle Downey, from the Hawaii Department of Agriculture, is trying to rid the Hawaiian islands of the pest, by breeding disease-resistant bees.
February 9, 2015
From: Western Farm Press
Almond industry helping to address health and forage issues for honey bees
Bob Curtis, Almond Board of California
Some 1.7 million beehives have moved into California’s 860,000 acres of almonds across the Central Valley to pollinate the state’s almond crop.
The importance of bees to the success of California Almonds is undeniable. What may be less understood is the amount of money, time and manpower beekeepers invest to get these bees healthy and ready to pollinate the crop.
February 6, 2015