Court: Bee killing Pesticide Approvals Violated Law; MD Protects State Habitat; and more

Pollinator News            May 26, 2017

Court Holds Bee-killing Pesticide Approvals Violated the Law

EPA must analyze risks to endangered species

SAN FRANCISCO (5-10-17) —A Federal Court has ruled   that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) systematically violated the Endangered Species Act (ESA) – a key wildlife protection law – when it approved bee-killing insecticides known as neonicotinoids. In a case ongoing for the last four years, brought by beekeepers, wildlife conservation groups, and food safety and consumer advocates, Judge Maxine Chesney of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California held that EPA had unlawfully issued 59 pesticide registrations between 2007 and 2012 for a wide variety of agricultural, landscaping and ornamental uses.

center for food safety logo“This is a vital victory,” said George Kimbrell, Center for Food Safety legal director. “Science shows these toxic pesticides harm bees, endangered species and the broader environment. More than fifty years ago, Rachel Carson warned us to avoid such toxic chemicals, and the court’s ruling may bring us one step closer to preventing another Silent Spring.”  READ MORE


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Adopting a Hive Mentality- Part III

Guest writer, Wendy MatherBee audacious logo

Honey bee health suffers as a result of pesticides, pollination practices, poor forage and pathogens. As beekeepers, this is our universal truth, regardless of varroa treatment philosophies. The “treat vs. no-treat practices” were not at the center of the values discussions. As reviewed in the previous article, our conversations about values netted incredible insights, many revolving around specific actions to support the welfare of bees and their environments.1


New Maryland Law Will Protect State Pollinator Habitat

Law signed today will ban harmful pesticides on state designated pollinator habitat

Smart on pest. MDAnnapolis, MD (May 25, 2017) –  Today Governor Larry Hogan will sign SB 386/HB 830, sponsored by Senator Shirley Nathan-Pulliam (D-44) and Delegate Anne Healey (D-22), which prohibits pesticides known to harm pollinators on state land designated as pollinator habitat.  

“Keeping state pollinator habitat free of harmful pesticides will help protect our bees, food supply and the environment,” said Ruth Berlin, executive director of the Maryland Pesticide Education Network. “Maryland is demonstrating once again that we are a national leader in pollinator protection.”   READ MORE

2017 pollinator bill signing
Members of Smart on Pesticides Maryland attend the bill signing.


Mites Down But Bee Losses Remain Unsustainable

The Bee Informed Partnership released its survey of annual honey bee losses for the 2016-2017 winter season this week.   Beekeepers voluntarily reported on the health of 13% of the total bee colonies in the U.S.  Of the reported hives “beekeepers lost 33.2% of their colonies between April 2016 and March 2017.” 1   The acceptable and “sustainable” loss rate of bee colonies is 10-15%.  While there was a decrease in losses from the previous year, even Dr. Dennis vanEngelsdorp of the University of Maryland and Project Director for the Bee Informed Partnership (BIP) stated he “would stop short of calling this ‘good’ news.” 2   

Commercial beekeeper, Jeff Anderson says his colony losses are “changing when they occur.”  Last year his end of summer losses were 50%, and his over winter losses were only 8%.   “I started the year with 3050 colonies, and went into winter with 1240 colonies. At the end of summer I lost 1566 colonies, and I only lost 244 colonies over winter.”  The impact of pesticides upon honey bees as they pollinate crops, and as they interact in the ecosystem with pesticides on bee forage is changing the dynamic of colony losses.  Bret Adee reports he lost less honey bees blooms after drought and rainslast year because first, he delayed returning his bees to South Dakota until after the pesticide coated corn seeds were planted.  However, he had to invest in supplemental feed to support his bees. Second, Mr. Adee’s honey bees experienced  reduced levels of pesticides sprayed on soybeans as his bees worked that crop helping to increase soybean yields.  Lastly, when he moved his bees to California to prepare for almond pollination in December and January his bees benefitted from the diverse blooming floral resources of the California desert.  Many wildflowers returned due to wildfires that cleared brush and grasses, and then the rains supported blossoms for the bees.  Beekeeper, Bill Rhodes discussed his decrease in annual losses from 2015 (5,140 hives lost) to 2,630 hives lost last year.  “But keep in mind the number of hives lost each year is still a huge percentage compared to what it was prior to 2005 when for 30 years my yearly loss of colonies was less than 10% of my inventory.”  READ MORE

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How to Control Mosquitoes Without Killing Pollinators and Other Important Wildlife

by Susan Gitlin, ARMN member 

mosquito -aedes-aegypti-from-wikipediaWarm weather and mosquitoes will be here before you know it, leading many of us to look for ways to enjoy the outdoors without being pestered by those annoying little—and sometimes disease-bearing—biters.

Because mosquitoes have no trouble flying from yard to yard, the best way to combat them is to work with our neighbors to collectively identify and implement opportunities to reduce mosquito populations. Below is a set of approaches that are suggested by entomologists, public health organizations, and agricultural extension programs.  READ MORE

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See us at for May 26 newsletter



Bumblebees Boost Blueberry Yield
Article ID: 672565   Released: 6-Apr-2017 7:05 AM EDT
Source Newsroom: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences

Like other fruit plants, blueberries need pollinators, such as bees, to grow. Farmers are growing increasingly dependent on western honeybees, scientists say. But bumblebees are more active in poor weather and pollinate highbush blueberries more, so UF/IFAS researchers wanted to test bumblebees on a local blueberry farm.  Bumblebees can boost blueberry yield by 70 percent, good news for Florida growers in the heart of their blueberry season, a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences study shows.  The news also accentuates the need for blueberry pollinators, said Joshua Campbell, a post-doctoral researcher in the UF/IFAS entomology and nematology department.  READ MORE



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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.