Letter From The Honey Bee Health Coalition

Letter From The Honey Bee Health Coalition

October 16, 2014

The Honorable Thomas Vilsack The Honorable Regina McCarthy

Secretary Administrator

U.S. Department of Agriculture U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

1400 Independence Ave., S.W. Office of the Administrator – 1101A

Washington, DC 20250 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.

Washington, DC 20460

Dear Mr. Secretary and Madam Administrator,

As leaders charged by the President to coordinate federal efforts to research, prevent, and recover from pollinator losses, you know that a lot rides on the health of the honey bee. You are in a unique position to help safeguard global food production, North American agriculture, and healthy ecosystems across the world, which is why we want to work with you to improve honey bee health.

The Honey Bee Health Coalition is one of the largest and most diverse groups of stakeholders representing more than 30 organizations working across food, agriculture, government, and conservation to reverse recent declines in honey bee health and promote their long-term health and the health of other pollinators. By coordinating together on key priorities we can include a broader set of stakeholders and achieve our mutual goals faster, with greater impact, and do so more cost effectively.

To that end, the Coalition issued the attached Bee Healthy Roadmap outlining steps for working together to improve honey bee health that will accomplish more than any one group can achieve on its own. The Coalition is committed to developing explicit goals, milestones and metrics to measure improvements in honey bee health. We’re working to achieve Healthy Honey Bees, Healthy People, and a Healthy Planet and we set ourselves four priority areas that need collective, science-based action:

Put the best available tools, techniques, and technologies in the hands of beekeepers so they can better manage their hives. As noted in the Presidential Memorandum creating a federal strategy to promote the health of honey bees and other pollinators, we need ‘…expanded collection and sharing of data related to pollinator losses [and] technologies for continuous monitoring of honey bee hive health… and new cost-effective ways to control bee pests and diseases.’ Therefore, the Coalition aims to support on-the ground efforts underway to provide beekeepers with monitoring and expert advice and analyses to best manage hive health, as well as to promote development of new products and use of best practices for varroa mite control.

Ensure honey bees – especially those in and around production agriculture – have access to a varied and nutritious diet. Our work aligns with the Pollinator Health Task Force focus on pollinator-friendly seed mixes and habitats. The Coalition is working on how to prioritize where forage is needed, what plants are needed, and at what times – and on public-private strategies to meet nutritional needs. Steering Committee.honeybeehealthcoalition.org

Control crop pests while safeguarding pollinator health. The Coalition is promoting best practices to safeguard honey bee health and exploring opportunities to promote and improve reporting of honey bee health incidents related to crop pest control. These activities align with the Task Force’s work toward ‘identification of existing and new methods and best practices to reduce pollinator exposure to pesticides.’

Work together to improve honey bee health. In alignment with the Task
Force’s emphasis on public-private partnerships, the Coalition is promoting public private collaboration across diverse stakeholders, including State and and local
governments, farmers, corporations, and nongovernmental organizations.

Together we can collaboratively implement solutions among food, agriculture, government, and conservation partners. Together we can achieve a healthy population of honey bees as well as healthy populations of native and managed pollinators. Together we can ensure healthy, sustainable agriculture and healthy ecosystems, and healthy ecosystem services for years to come.

Knowing that the Coalition can’t improve honey bee health on its own, we want to provide you with this Roadmap to share the priorities we’ve identified and ask for your input and feedback so that we can effectively work with you, as appropriate, to achieve our mutual goals. We would like to schedule some time for members of the Coalition to meet with you to review this Roadmap in the coming weeks. Would the first or second week of November be a convenient time? If not, please suggest a time that would. I can be reached at (970) 513-5830 or jshapiro@keystone.org to coordinate on scheduling or to provide further information.


The Honey Bee Health Coalition Steering Committee:

Pete Berthelson, Pheasants Forever; Zac Browning, Browning Honey Co.; David Epstein, USDA Pest Mgt. Policy; George Hansen, ABF; Gerald Hayes, Monsanto; Christi Heintz, PAM; Bill Kuckuck, Croplife America; Robert Sears, East MS Beekeepers; Ed Spevak, St. Louis Zoo; Thomas Steeger, EPA; Dale Thorenson, US Canola Ass’n; Maria Trainer, CropLife Canada; Dennis vanEngelsdorp U MD; Richard Waycolt, Almond Board CA.

Steering Committee


Julie Shapiro

Facilitator, Honey Bee Health Coalition &

Senior Associate, The Keystone Center


Dr. Ann Bartuska, Deputy Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics, USDA

Mr. Jim Jones, Assistant Administrator, Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, U.S. EPA

Dr. Sonny Ramaswamy, Director, National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA

Dr. Melinda Cep, Special Assistant, Office of the Under Secretary, Marketing and Regulatory Programs, USDA