The Pollinator Stewardship Council: December 2014


A wrap-up of the past year.

by Michele Colopy

This past year has been busy for the Pollinator Stewardship Council. We are beekeepers, working for beekeepers to defend managed and native pollinators vital to a sustainable and affordable food supply from the adverse impact of pesticides. Our work benefits you and your honey bees.

January 2014 was national beekeeping conference time! We did not spend enough time with the American Beekeeping Federation members, before we jumped on a plane in Baton Rouge and hopped over to San Antonio for the American Honey Producers Association conference. (The national beekeeping conferences in 2015 are less than 40 miles apart. Look for our table at both conferences the entire time!) Also in January we sought clarification of the language of the new label for neonicotinoid pesticides. At the end of January the Program Director spent a day talking with OSU Entomologists, thanks to Dr. Reed Johnson.

PSC Board members attended a Varroa Summit sponsored by the USDA in February. We expressed our support for FIFRA Scientific Advisory Panel nominees to the EPA, Dr. Dana Boyd Barr, Dr. Paul D. Blanc, and Dr. David Alan Jett. Dr. Barr and Dr. Jett were appointed to the FIFRA SAP. We submitted our concerns of proposed bill, H.R. 4012, the “Secret Science Reform Act 2014,” which would disregard all previous U.S. Code that clearly defined the process of open and transparent science. The Secret Science Reform Act of 2014 presented a circular argument with euphemistic terminology. The language in the bill would prohibit the EPA from “proposing, finalizing, or disseminating regulations or assessment based upon science that is not transparent or reproducible.” If this bill is enacted pesticide manufacturers could submit “research” that they claim is protected under confidential business information, and the “data” submitted to EPA would be illegal to publish or disseminate for public review (and prospective reproducible research) rendering the submitted research to the EPA not transparent, or as this bill defines it “secret science.” We supported Santa Barbara Beekeepers’ sponsorship of AB 1789 “Pesticides: neonicotinoids; reevaluation: determination.” The Program Director attended the Western PA Beekeeping Seminar, and “Skyped” with the Beaufort-Jasper, South Carolina Beekeepers at their monthly meeting.

In March we helped set-up a meeting with EPA and beekeepers after almond pollination bee kills, collecting the first bee kill reports of the year. The Program Director participated in a Congressional Briefing in Washington, DC providing legislator education of pollinator concerns and issues along with the Center for Food Safety, and fellow nonprofit advocates. March was a busy travel time for the Program Director who attended the Tri-County Beekeepers Assn. workshop, spoke at the Michigan State Beekeepers Association Conference. Then, it was off to the Kentucky beekeepers school for a presentation. Massachusetts State Beekeepers welcomed the Program Director for their Spring meeting as one of two main speakers.

During April the House Subcommittee on Horticulture, Research, Biotechnology and Foreign Agriculture held a hearing to “review current research and application of management strategies to control pests and diseases of pollinators” and forgot to invite a representative of the beekeeping industry. Oops!? Board members attended a White House meeting on Pollinator Health. Program Director spoke to three beekeeping groups: COMB beekeepers in Michigan, Central Ohio Beekeepers Association, and the NW Ohio Beekeepers Association.

In May we facilitated a bee industry comment letter to APHIS docket #2014-0007, “determination of non-regulated status of maize genetically engineered for protection against corn root worm and resistance to glyphosate.” The Bee industry agreed with the findings of the EPA Scientific Advisory Panel that “not all aspects of the fate of dsRNA in the environment and potential effects on non -target organisms are necessarily understood.” We did not support the registration of a product that was not “necessarily understood.”

We celebrated June with National Pollinator week, and the release of a Presidential Memorandum developed as a result of the White House Pollinator Health Meeting in April. Beekeepers were pleased to be at the initial meeting, and encouraged the White House to include beekeepers on the proposed Presidential task forces. Pesticide Program Dialogue Committee and Pollinator Workgroup meeting in Wash., D.C. was attended by a PSC Board member. PSC Board President participated in the Food and Farm Fair in North Dakota. Program Director attended the Ohio State Beekeepers Summer Conference, and spoke to the East Central Ohio Beekeepers. This month PSC became a formal member of the Honey Bee Health Coalition, with the Program Director participating on two out of four workgroups each month. PSC began fundraising and grant writing for bee kill evidence kits and lab analysis. We began providing bee kill evidence kits based on funding.

July we started offering legislative action support to state and local beekeepers to generate letters to their local legislators for beekeeping related issues through our new software. We lent our support to California AB 1789, Minnesota 2908 and 2727, Massachusetts S.2159, and Ohio’s “Save the Honey Bee” license plate. We did the same for national bee issues with the Highways BEE Act, Saving America’s Pollinators Act, and letters directly to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. We can help you gather and show support of your local bee issue: call us! Program Director participated in the Medina County, Ohio Bee Festival, and attended the Heartland Apiculture Society Conference in Illinois. The end of the month was the Eastern Apiculture Society Conference in Kentucky. PSC volunteered at EAS and gave a presentation.

At the end of August PSC Board members gave a tour of North and South Dakota commercial beekeeping operations for Jim Jones, Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention and Jack Housenger, director of EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs. PSC Board Secretary/Treasurer presented at a Farm to Table conference in Louisiana. Program Director gave a presentation of best management practices for honey bees hired for crop pollination to one workgroup of the Honey Bee Health Coalition.

In September we facilitated a bee industry EPA docket comment letter for Bt and dsRNAi pesticide use. Again, we did not support technology that is not fully “understood” by the FIFRA Scientific Advisory Panel. We also responded to HR 5447-the Varroa mite bill “and for other purposes.” The bill missed the target! According to the Presidential Memorandum “The USDA and Department of the Interior shall, within 90 days, develop best management practices for executive departments and agencies to enhance pollinator habitat on federal lands.” The ninety day deadline was Sept. 21. We are following up.

October we facilitated another bee industry comment letter urging EPA not to permit increasing Thiamethoxam on bee attractive crops 40-200 times the current use! We were not pleased by this, and said so. USDA sponsored a pollinator forage summit in Washington DC (PSC Board members attended – check our Newsletter for more information as the Summit will be held after this article is due to the publisher). Program Director spoke to the Ohio Utility Arborists Association Pollinators and Songbirds Conference, and at the Master Gardeners Conference in Madison County, Ohio.

November was a month spent travelling as the Program Director spoke at Miami University, Ohio to Dr. Alfredo Huerta’s classes, at the Ohio State Beekeepers Association Fall Conference, the Texas State Beekeepers Association Conference, to the Collin County, Texas Beekeepers, and was welcomed by the Iowa Honey Producers Association for their Conference.

December is a time to plan for 2015 – with your support. National Giving Day in the United States is Dec. 2. If every beekeeper contributed $50 we can continue working on protections for your honey bees. Our Board members spend their own funds, and commit their time to participate in conference calls and face-to-face meetings with the EPA, USDA, Honey Bee Health Coalition, and similar state and national activities. The Program Director travels to talk with beekeepers and other stakeholders, participates on two Honey Bee Health Coalition workgroups twice a month, collects bee kill incident reports sharing this data with the US EPA, creates presentation materials for beekeepers in State and local groups, writes the Newsletter twice a month, writes a monthly article for Bee Culture magazine, maintains the website, designs ads, researches and writes grants, seeks collaborative program opportunities, facilitates input on bee industry comment letters, attends conferences, and connects journalists with beekeepers for local and regional stories. Educational presentations, conferences, and research for state and local beekeeping groups is time consuming, and costly, but important to build an informed community of beekeepers, and others, to help protect honey bees at the state and local level. Local advocacy support reflects our mission as we work with state and local beekeepers on their own legislative issues to protect honey bees. Our advocacy software makes this process easy. We offered it for free to state and local beekeeping groups, but it costs us $4300 annually. Our bee kill incident reporting has increased awareness of bee kills, and provided an option for beekeepers to report their bee kills from pesticide exposure, but it needs your continued support to collect the scientific data to validate the anecdotal evidence. Collectively we can support each other for this information; collectively we can fund the research of the real-world our bees experience in order to protect our bees from further harm. Give, and it shall be given unto you. Please consider a donation to the Pollinator Stewardship Council as we work for you to help protect your honey bees.

Sought clarification of new neonic label
HR 5447
Tour of Dakota beekeeping operations
Calif. AB 1789
PPDC meeting
Presidential Memorandum
Highways BEE Act
Save the Honey Bee license plate
House Subcommittee hearing
White House meeting on Pollinator Health
Congressional Briefing
Saving America’s Pollinators Act
New neonic label
Set-up March 24 meeting with EPA
Bee kill reports
busy travel time
action support
Honey Bee Health Coalition
APHIS docket
Bt and dsRNAi
Thiamethoxam tolerance increases
Secret Science Reform Act
FIFRA SAP nominees
Varroa mite bill