…Poor Nutrition. Bees require improved forage and a variety of plants to support colony health. The study recommends that federal and state partners consider actions affecting land management to maximize available forage and keep bees away from pesticide treated fields.
…Need for Greater Research and Collaboration. The study recommends that the crop-producing industry follows best management practices in regards to bee health and both growers and beekeepers improve communication. Further, the study recommended timely reporting of bee kill incidents, and noted that additional research should look at pesticide exposure and any potential impact that could have on colonies.
Discussion about bee health has been ongoing across many industries for the past several years. In the latest report, EPA and USDA say there is inconclusive evidence to identify one cause for population decline, while groups such as the Pesticide Action Network in North America and Avaaz in Europe maintain that pesticides are the main cause.
Just Tuesday, the European Commission approved a temporary ban on three commonly used pesticides following a European Food Safety Authority Report that linked the pesticides to bee population declines. The pesticides include the neonicotinoids clothianidin, thiametoxam and imidacloprid. The decision was deferred to the EC after EU member states could not reach a majority vote on the issue.
In the U.S., 27 petitioners comprised of beekeepers and several pesticide action groups in 2012 requested emergency suspension of clothianidin, however, EPA concluded that the petition did not demonstrate that the pesticide posed an imminent hazard to bees.
As noted in Thursday's report, public and private research on the issue will continue. Bayer CropScience and Syngenta have taken steps in Europe and the U.S. to address population decline and bee health. Bayer's Bee Care Program, which kicked off this spring, is aimed at improving collaboration between beekeepers and crop producers, with two dedicated Bee Care Centers planned for Monheim, Germany, and North Carolina.
Further, the Colony Collapse Steering Committee, led by the USDA, EPA and the National Agricultural Statistics Service, will continue to review the report's recommendations and update the CCD Action Plan. The plan will outline major priorities to be addressed in the next 5-10 years, the agencies said, and will serve as a reference document for policy makers, legislators and the public.
The USDA and EPA said this plan will also help coordinate federal strategy for honeybee population preservation moving forward.
To view the report, which USDA and EPA said represents the consensus of the scientific community studying honey bees, click here.