Water prize, MD Pollinator Bill, Myths About Modern Ag, Review of Neonic Evidence

Pollinator News                April 14, 2017

The Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation Announced as Presenting Sponsor of The Everglades Foundation’s George Barley Water Prize

$10 million Barley Water Prize is world’s largest water prize to combat phosphorus pollution; organizations address global freshwater crisis in World Water Day national summit

The Everglades Foundation announced The Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation as the presenting sponsor of The George Barley Water Prize, the world’s largest water prize offering $10 million to the person or team that develops the most cost-effective technology to remove phosphorus from freshwater bodies.

  george barley water prize  Together through the Barley Prize, the organizations will combat the issue of harmful algal blooms caused by excess phosphorus, which threatens the health of the Everglades and countless other freshwater bodies.

“Nutrient pollution, especially from phosphorus, is a significant and growing crisis that must be solved,” said Jim King, president of The Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation. “Our company is proud that we became the largest fertilizer manufacturer in the world to remove phosphorus from our fertilizer products, a step we took in 2011. But we knew then, as we still do today, that our decision would have little impact on eliminating harmful algal blooms that continue to plague freshwater bodies around the world. The decision by our Foundation to announce the sponsorship of the George Barley Water Prize on World Water Day is the first step of a multi-year commitment to elevate public awareness of this issue and celebrate the innovation that will help solve it.”  READ MORE



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Maryland Takes Additional Steps to Protect Bees and Other Pollinators

Bill to prohibit pesticides that harm pollinators in designated State pollinator habitat lands passes 2017 General Assembly session; heads to Governor’s desk

Smart on pest. MDThe Maryland General Assembly has passed SB 386/HB 830, which would prohibit pesticides known to harm pollinators on designated state pollinator habitats, with bipartisan majorities in both the Senate and the House of Delegates.
Advocates are celebrating the bill as another major action to protect bees and other pollinators. This includes both last year’s Pollinator Protection Act, which made the General Assembly the first legislature in the country to restrict consumer use of neonicotinoid pesticides, as well as legislation to expand pollinator habitat on state agency lands.

“We are thrilled that Maryland is doing even more to protect our bees, birds, butterflies and other pollinators, which are so crucial to our food supply and environment,” said Bonnie Raindrop, legislative chair of the Central Maryland Beekeepers Association. “Having just lost all of my bee hives over the winter, I can say firsthand that the threat is real, and we need to do all we can to protect these essential creatures.”  READ MORE


Deadline EXTENDED until April 19th:
Take Action for honey labels

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to TAKE ACTION go here

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued guidance for nutrition labels.  Beginning in 2018 FDA will require packaged honey to include on the nutrition label both “Total Sugars” and “Added Sugars”.  However, FDA does not distinguish between the two.  Labels will need to include the same amount of grams of sugar under each category e.g. “17 grams of Total Sugar” and “17 grams of Added Sugars.”     Keep in mind, products sold by companies qualifying for small business exemptions are one exception to this requirement. Small business exemptions are available for products sold in small volume (fewer than 100,000 units per year) by small companies (fewer than 100 employees).   This label change will not affect all beekeepers immediately.  Eventually, it will create confusion across the honey industry and mislead the consumer about a natural product that is in actuality a healthier sweetener to add to food than processed white or brown sugar.

Additionally, FDA is requiring even fruit juices (with no corn syrup or sugar added) to also note on their labels “added sugar” and “total sugar.”  The Citrus industry has secured an exemption.  However, this label will simply be misleading to the consumer.    FDA seeks to advise consumers about the “added sugar” to their diet, but this label will imply honey has “added sugars” to the honey, when it does not.  Besides honey and maple syrup, and even the juice of fruit contain natural sugars, not “added sugar.”

Send in your comments concerning this confusing label FDA seeks to establish here

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Three Big Myths about Modern Agriculture

By David R. Montgomery , Professor of Earth and Space Sciences, University of Washington, published at The Conversation 

One of the biggest modern myths about agriculture is that organic farming is inherently sustainable. It can be, but it isn’t necessarily. After all, soil erosion from chemical-free tilled fields undermined the Roman Empire and other ancient societies around the world. Other agricultural myths hinder recognizing the potential to restore degraded soils to feed the world using fewer agrochemicals.

healthy soil pic form THE CONVERSATION April 2017When I embarked on a six-month trip to visit farms around the world to research my forthcoming book, “Growing a Revolution: Bringing Our Soil Back to Life,” the innovative farmers I met showed me that regenerative farming practices can restore the world’s agricultural soils. In both the developed and developing worlds, these farmers rapidly rebuilt the fertility of their degraded soil, which then allowed them to maintain high yields using far less fertilizer and fewer pesticides.  READ MORE



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The Environmental Risks of neonicotinoid pesticides: a review of the evidence post-2013
By Thomas James Wood, Dave Goulson

Neonicotinoid pesticides were first introduced in the mid-1990s and since then their use has grown rapidly so that they have become the most widely used class of insecticides in the world, with the majority being used as seed coatings. Neonicotinoids are water-soluble, and so a small quantity applied to a seed will dissolve when in contact with water in the soil and be taken up by the roots of the developing plant. Once inside the plant it becomes systemic and is found in vascular tissues and foliage, providing protection against herbivorous insects. This prophylactic use of neonicotinoids has become extremely widespread on a wide range of arable crops across much of the developed world.

neonic chart from Goulson study 2017However, only approximately 5% of the neonicotinoid active ingredient is taken up by crop plants and most instead disperses into the wider environment. Since the mid-2000s numerous studies have raised concerns that neonicotinoids may be having a negative effect on non-target organisms. In particular, neonicotinoids were associated with mass poisoning events of honeybees and were shown to have serious negative effects on honeybee and bumblebee fitness when consumed. In response to this growing body of evidence, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) was commissioned to produce risk assessments for the use of clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam and their impact on bees. These risk assessments, published in January 2013, conclude that the use of these compounds on certain flowering crops poses a high risk to bees. On the basis of these findings, the European Union adopted a partial ban on these substances in May 2013 which came into force on 1st December 2013.

The purpose of this review is to collate and summarise scientific evidence published since 2013 that investigates the impact of neonicotinoids on non-target organisms and to bring it into one place to aid informed decision making. Due to international concern over the unintended impacts of neonicotinoids on wildlife, this topic has received a great deal of scientific attention in this three year period. As the restrictions were put in place because of the risk neonicotinoids pose to bees, much of the recent research work has naturally focussed on this group.

Risks to bees
Broadly, the EFSA risk assessments addressed risks of exposure to bees from neonicotinoids through various routes and the direct lethal and sublethal impact of neonicotinoid exposure. New scientific evidence is available in all of these areas, and it is possible to comment on the change in the scientific evidence since 2013 compared to the EFSA reports. This process is not meant to be a formal assessment of the risk posed by neonicotinoids in the manner of that conducted by EFSA. Instead it aims to summarise how the new evidence has changed our understanding of the likely risks to bees; is it lower, similar or greater than the risk perceived in 2013. With reference to the EFSA 2013 risk assessments baseline, advances in each considered area and their impact on the original assessment can be summarised thus:

• Risk of exposure from pollen and nectar of treated flowering crops. The EFSA reports calculated typical exposure from flowering crops treated with neonicotinoids as seed dressings. Considerably more data are now available in this area, with new studies broadly supporting the calculated exposure values. For bees, flowering crops pose a Risk Unchanged to that reported by EFSA 2013.

• Risk from non-flowering crops and cropping stages prior to flowering. Non-flowering crops were considered to pose no risk to bees. No new studies have demonstrated that these non-flowering crops pose a direct risk to bees. They remain a Risk Unchanged.

• Risk of exposure from the drilling of treated seed and subsequent dust drift. Despite modification in seed drilling technology, available studies suggest that dust drift continues to occur, and that dust drift still represents a source of acute exposure and so is best considered a Risk Unchanged.

• Risk of exposure from guttation fluid. Based on available evidence this was considered a low-risk exposure path by EFSA 2013. New data have not changed this position and so it remains a Risk Unchanged.

• Risk of exposure from and uptake of neonicotinoids in non-crop plants. Uptake of neonicotinoids by non-target plants was considered likely to be negligible, though a data gap was identified. Many studies have since been published demonstrating extensive uptake of neonicotinoids and their presence in the pollen, nectar and foliage of wild plants. Bees collecting pollen from neonicotinoid-treated crops can generally be expected to be exposed to the highest neonicotinoid concentrations, but non-trivial quantities of neonicotinoids are also present in pollen and nectar collected from wild plants, and this source of exposure may be much more prolonged than the flowering period of the crop. Exposure from non-target plants clearly represents a Greater Risk.

• Risk of exposure from succeeding crops. A data gap was identified for this issue. Few studies have explicitly investigated this, but this area does represent some level of risk as neonicotinoids are now known to have the potential to persist for years in soil, and can be detected in crops multiple years after the last known application. However, as few data exist this is currently considered a Risk Unchanged.

• Direct lethality of neonicotinoids to adult bees. Additional studies on toxicity to honeybees have supported the values calculated by EFSA. More data have been produced on neonicotinoid toxicity for wild bee species and meta-analyses suggest a broadly similar response. Reference to individual species is important but neonicotinoid lethality should be broadly considered a Risk Unchanged.

• Sublethal effects of neonicotinoids on wild bees. Consideration of sublethal effects by EFSA was limited as there is no agreed testing methodology for the assessment of such effects. A data gap was identified. Exposure to neonicotinoid-treated flowering crops has been shown to have significant negative effects on free flying wild bees under field conditions and some laboratory studies continue to demonstrate negative effects on bee foraging ability and fitness using field-realistic neonicotinoid concentrations. Greater Risk.

Within this context, research produced since 2013 suggest that neonicotinoids pose a similar to greater risk to wild and managed bees, compared to the state of play in 2013. Given that the initial 2013 risk assessment was sufficient to impose a partial ban on the use of neonicotinoids on flowering crops, and given that new evidence either confirms or enhances evidence of risk to bees, it is logical to conclude that the current scientific evidence supports the extension of the moratorium, and that the extension of the partial ban to other uses of neonicotinoids should be considered.



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We are a member of the Honey Bee Health Coalition

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HBHC Varroa videos:
Varroa mite PSA
Video 1 – IPM
Video 2, 3 – Sampling methods

Video 4 – Essential oils 
Video 5 – Using Apivar 
Video 6 – Using Apistan or Checkmite+ 
Video 7 – Formic acid 
Video 8 – Using HopGuard 
Video 9 – Using Oxalic Acid 
Video 10 – Using sanitation, screen bottoms
Video 11 – Using drone brood removal
Video 12 – Using requeening 

Tools for Honey Bee Health
    Tools for Varroa Management  
    Quick Guide to Reporting A Bee Kill 
    Beekeeper Guide 
    Grower Guide 
    Bee Healthy Roadmap
The Bee Understanding Project


Seeds for honey bees EAST of the Mississippi!

OPN pic for PSc websitePlant pollinator forage for your bees. Pollinator Stewardship Council has partnered with Ohio Prairie Nursery in support of pollinator habitat.  You can get native seeds for the eastern U.S. planting zones here.  Select “Support our Cause”  to view featured seed selections to benefit pollinators.  A portion of sales generated from our website will help support our work.


Seeds for honey bees WEST of the Mississippi

To increase plant biodiversity, improve gardens yields, and make a positive difference for the future, plant for pollinators WEST of the Mississippi with bbbseed.  Go to their website, today and Plant For Pollinators!

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Betterbee was at the Massachusetts Beekeepers Assn. Spring Meeting offering a variety of seed mixes for beekeepers to plant.   You can find seven seed mix varieties at their website

Planting forage for our bees is important; and beekeepers can lead by example!


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Beekeepers Working for Beekeepers

The Board and Program Director are all beekeepers.   
We work to:

•    Raise awareness about the adverse impact of pesticides on pollinators critical to the supply of food and the ecosystem.

•    Provide advocacy, guidance, and tools to document the detrimental effect of pesticides on pollinators.

•    Affect regulatory processes of pesticide risk assessment, label, and enforcement.