CropLife America (CLA) commends the USDA and EPA for their development of the comprehensive “Report on the National Stakeholders Conference on Honey Bee Health.” The report summarizes findings from the National Stakeholders Conference held in October 2012, which brought together beekeepers, scientists, representatives of conservation groups, beekeeping supply manufacturers, commodity groups, pesticide manufacturers and government representatives to discuss potential solutions for improving honey bee health. CLA urges USDA and EPA to promptly translate the results of the conference and this report into concrete, practical research directions.
During the Stakeholder Conference, working groups focused on issues that may be impacting bee health, including parasites and pathogens, nutrition, genetics and pesticides. The report describes several findings and opportunities for future collaboration in improving bee health that were developed by the working groups:
- The parasitic Varroa mite is recognized as the major factor underlying colony loss in the U.S. and other countries.
- Nutrition has a major impact on individual bee and colony health, and nutrition problems can make bees more susceptible to harm from diseases and parasites.
- There is a need for informed and coordinated communication between growers and beekeepers as well as effective collaboration between stakeholders on practices to protect bees from pesticides.
- U.S. honey bee colonies need increased genetic diversity in order to improve thermoregulation, disease resistance and worker productivity.
- Additional research is needed on realistic field-relevant pesticide exposure to bees.
“This report offers additional confirmation that there are numerous factors influencing the health of honey bees,” said Dr. Ray McAllister, senior director of regulatory policy for CLA. “CLA supports the work of USDA, EPA and all involved stakeholders who are collaborating on developing solutions for honey bees and other pollinators, which are so vital to agricultural production in the U.S. and worldwide. The crop protection industry is dedicated to analyzing the impacts of pesticides on honey bee colonies through continued research into field-relevant pesticide exposures, improvement of pollinator habitats, supporting educational outreach programs and applying best management practices.”
The National Stakeholders Conference was organized by Pennsylvania State University and the Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) Steering Committee, which is overseen by USDA, EPA and the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). In order to implement actions related to USDA and EPA’s report, the committee plans to release a revised Action Plan on pollinator health that will be shared with legislators, policymakers and the public, and outline priorities for honey bee health to be addressed in the next five to 10 years.
USDA’s Office of Pest Management Policy, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), Agricultural Research Services (ARS), Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), National Resource Conversation Service (NRCS) and Pennsylvania State University were involved in the development of the report.