Why Bee Health Matters

To our horticultural industry readers, this week’s blog post is specifically for you. Some of you may have noticed a severe decline in the bee population in recent years. The November 2013 issue of Nursery Management delves deeper into the possible cause of the drop in bee mortality. 
“Why Bee Health Matters”
Nursery Management – November 2013
The domesticated honey bee population has declined nearly 50 percent in the last 50 years, and this year was one of the worst on record with some bee keepers losing 60 percent of their hives. This is disturbing news to many because bees account for one-third of the food we eat, including any vegetable, fruit or nut that grows from a flower. Examples of these are blueberries, almonds, squash, and tomatoes – all of which require pollination. The Pollinator Partnership says that pollinators add $217 billion to the global economy, while honey bees alone are responsible for $1.2 billion to $5.4 billion of agricultural productivity in the U.S. 
One of the possible causes is Colony Collapse Disorder – the phenomenon occurring when worker bees disappear, leaving behind a queen, food and a few nurse bees. Other causes that affect bee health are mites, viruses, bacteria, disease, poor nutrition, beekeeping practices, transportation of hives across country, habitat loss, genetically modified plants, lack of genetic diversity, weather, and pesticides. 

“Why Bee Health Matters”
Nursery Management – November 2013

Of all the pesticides bees can be exposed to, one class has been in the media and regulatory spotlight – neonicotinoids. A bill has been submitted to Congress for the suspension of four neonicotinoids until their EPA registration review in 2019 – dinotefuran, imidacloprid, clothianidin, thiamethoxam. To help regulate the issue without putting companies out of business, the EPA announced label changes to “better protect bees and other pollinators” from the four specified neonicotinoids. The EPA intends to have the new language placed on “as many products as possible by the 2014 use season.”

Joe Bischoff, director of government relations at ANLA, says, “In general, the language used in the new EPA labels is flexible enough for the green industry to work within the new guidelines and still be able to use neonicotinoids…As an industry, we are stewards of these chemistries just as we are of the land. We must be responsible and use them for their intended purpose and for their benefit.”

To read more of Nursery Management’s coverage of bee health, click on the photo below.

Nursery Management – November 2013
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Don Eberly

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