Response To The President’s Strategy To Promote Pollinator Health Released Today

Response To The President’s Strategy To Promote Pollinator Health Released Today

From Bee Culture’s Office…

Earlier today the White House released its long awaited, and long overdue Strategy To Promote Pollinator Health. As much attention as honey bees have been getting in the last 10 years, and even in the last week with the release of the BIP Survey results, nothing in our memory comes close to the flurry of activity this office has observed since about 10:30 or so this morning. Of course some reports came even before the release of the Strategy from those who know the right people, so we were reading reactions to a piece of information we had yet to see.

Further, some of those were asking for our reaction to the report…all 79 pages of it…before it was released. Sadly, we had to decline making any comment as anything we could say would be without reference.

As the day progressed, and we plowed through the report, others began releasing their reactions…The EPA, an intimate piece of this strategy, Bayer Chemical, one of the focuses of what the strategy was to look at, Xerces Society had an opinion, as did theHoney Bee Health Coalition. The Washington Post newspaper was a recipient of the report early on and we have borrowed some of their interviews also, including Mark Winston and others.

This is a Long BUZZ, and I am sure we will be adding to the responses as the days go on and more people have time to read it (and re-read it to be sure). I encourage you to read it, and below is a link to the actual report. There are many links here, and this is only the beginning, but they give a glimpse of where the players are coming from, what they expect and where they think this will go. This is, in ouropinion, important stuff for the beekeeping community. You need to know what’s happening. It begins here, today.
The Bee Culture Staff.

Read the National Strategy to Promote Pollinator Health here.

This First section comes from various voices from inside the Strategy and the Federal Government…

Last June, President Obama issued a Presidential Memorandum directing an interagency Task Force to create a Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators. Today, under the leadership of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Task Force is releasing its Strategy, with three overarching goals:

  1. Reduce honey bee colony losses to economically sustainable levels;
  2. Increase monarch butterfly numbers to protect the annual migration; and
  3. Restore or enhance millions of acres of land for pollinators through combined public and private action.

The Strategy released today and its accompanying science-based Pollinator Research Action Plan outline needs and priority actions to better understand pollinator losses and improve pollinator health. These actions will be supported by coordination of existing Federal research efforts and accompanied by a request to Congress for additional resources to respond to the pollinator losses that are being experienced.

Increasing the quantity and quality of habitat for pollinators is a major part of this effort—with actions ranging from the construction of pollinator gardens at Federal buildings to the restoration of millions of acres of Federally managed lands and similar actions on private lands. To support these habitat-focused efforts, USDA and the Department of Interior are today issuing a set of Pollinator-Friendly Best Management Practices for Federal Lands, providing  practical guidance for planners and managers with land stewardship responsibilities.
The President has emphasized the need for an “all hands on deck” approach to promoting pollinator health, including engagement of citizens and communities and the forging of public-private partnerships. To foster collaboration, the interagency Pollinator Health Task Force will work toward developing a Partnership Action Plan that guides coordination with the many state, local, industry, and citizen groups with interests in and capacities to help tackle the challenge facing pollinators.

People of all ages and communities across the country can play a role in responding to the President’s call to action. YOU can share some land with pollinators—bees, butterflies, other insects, birds, bats—by planting a pollinator garden or setting aside some natural habitat. YOU can think carefully before applying any pesticides and always follow the label instructions. YOU can find out more about the pollinator species that live near you.

Today’s announcement marks an important step toward promoting the health of pollinators that are critically important to our economy, environment, and health.

  • Read the National Strategy to Promote Pollinator Health HERE
  • Read the Pollinator Research Action Plan HERE
  • Read Pollinator-Friendly Best Management Practices for Federal Lands HERE
  • Access Appendices to the National Strategy HERE

Dr. John P. Holdren is Assistant to the President for Science & Technology and Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

On Tuesday, May 19, the White House announced the National Strategy to Promote Pollinator Health. The strategy released today and its accompanying Pollinator Research Action Plan outline needs and priority actions to better understand pollinator losses, improve pollinator health, and to enhance pollinator habitat.
The strategy’s broad-reaching goals are to:

  • Restore colony health to sustainable levels by 2025.
  • Increase Eastern monarch butterfly populations to 225 million butterflies by year 2020.
  • Restore or enhance seven million acres of land for pollinators over the next five years.

For more information:
White House blog announcing the National Strategy to Promote Pollinator Health


From Bayer CropScience, in part….

Calling it a “balanced and multi-faceted approach,” Bayer CropScience today welcomed the release of the President’s Pollinator Task Force’s National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators. Bayer commended the call for extensive new research into all aspects of pollinator health and the unprecedented commitment to increase pollinator habitat and forage.

“This strategy is a strong statement in favor of a balanced and multi-faceted approach to improving pollinator health,” said Dr. Becky Langer, head of Bayer CropScience’sNorth American Bee Care Program.  “While bee populations are not declining, they face many complex challenges, some of which we’re only just beginning to fully understand.  Improving honey bee health will take a concerted effort from all stakeholders, including the public, and this strategy will help provide a framework for our collective response.

Jim Blome, president and CEO of Bayer CropScience LP added, “We are particularly encouraged by the specific commitment to invest more into research to improve our understanding of pollinator health.  Everything from grower decisions, consumer choice and regulatory actions must be based in sound science and the strategy’s call for more research will ensure that we have the best science available. We are proud to be contributing new studies and understanding population dynamics.”

From The Xerces Society, In Part….

“Pollinator conservation is an issue of national importance and I am very pleased that the White House has taken a leadership role,” said Scott Hoffman Black, executive director of the Xerces Society and an ex officio member of the U.S. Monarch Butterfly High Level Working Group. “The success of this strategy lies in adequate funding and appropriate implementation. We will continue to work with and support the White House and federal agencies as they move forward.”

The Xerces Society has long-established partnerships with several of the key federal agencies tasked with implementing the National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators. Our work includes:
·         A team of pollinator specialists working jointly with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service to provide technical support and training to NRCS staff nationwide;
·         Conservation biologist working jointly with the Fish and Wildlife Service on the conservation of monarch butterflies and milkweeds in the Pacific Northwest;
·         Multi-year partnership with the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management to manage land for rare butterflies, work which led to the partners receiving the Wings Across the Americas 2012 Butterfly Conservation Award;
·         Collaboration with NatureServe to write a report, “Conservation Status and Ecology of the Monarch Butterfly in the United States,” for the U.S. Forest Service;
·         Participation in the U.S. Geological Survey Powell Center Monarch Butterfly Workshop to work toward a conservation plan for the monarch; and
·         Membership of the U.S. Monarch Butterfly High Level Working Group.

“Working closely with the NRCS and other agencies has shown me that these agencies are full of highly skilled and motivated staff,” noted Mace Vaughan, pollinator program co-director at the Xerces Society and Joint Pollinator Conservation Specialist at the NRCS. “I am confident that implementation of the White House strategy will be in good hands.”

One area where the pollinator strategy falls short is protecting pollinators from pesticides, especially systemic insecticides like neonicotinoids. Neonicotinoids are the most widely used insecticides in the world and there are demonstrated links between their use and declines in bees and other wildlife. The Xerces Society had hoped that the Environmental Protection Agency would take strong comprehensive action to address the risk that these insecticides pose to pollinators.

“The national strategy includes valuable long-term plans that could, over time, strengthen the pesticide regulatory system,” stated Xerces Society pesticide program coordinator Aimee Code.  “But, it fails to offer pesticide mitigations to address issues currently facing pollinators.”

From The Center Of Biological Diversity, in part…..

“I’m glad to see the White House Pollinator Heath Task Force setting goals for increasing pollinator habitat, bringing back the monarchs, and reducing winter honeybee losses, but its recommendations don’t go nearly far enough to save our pollinators,” said Lori Ann Burd, director of the Environmental Health program at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Countless studies have already found that pesticides, and particularly neonicotinoid insecticides, are a leading cause of pollinator declines. Our bees can’t wait for more reports and evaluations. We need to save them by banning neonicotinoids, and especially neonicotinoid seed treatments, right now.”

Neonicotinoids, or neonics, are a class of pesticides known to have both acute and chronic effects on honeybees, birds, butterflies and other pollinator species, and are a major factor in overall pollinator declines. These systemic insecticides cause entire plants, including pollen and fruit, to become toxic to pollinators; the chemicals are also slow to break down, and therefore build up in the environment.
A large and growing body of independent science links neonics to catastrophic bee declines. Twenty-nine independent scientists recently conducted a global review of more than 1,000 independent studies on neonics and found overwhelming evidence linking them to declines of bees, birds, earthworms, butterflies and other wildlife. EPA’s own scientists have already found that bee-killing neonic seed treatments, deployed on more than 100 million acres across the United States, don’t even benefit farmers.
“The actions described in this report aren’t enough to save our pollinators as long as bee-killing neonicotinoids are being used on more than 100 million acres in this country,” said Burd. “A reevaluation of neonicotinoid uses is not enough. For bees and pollinators to survive and thrive, President Obama needs to order an immediate ban on neonicotinoids. And the EPA needs to stop dodging its consultation obligations and fully assess the impacts of neonicotinoids under the Endangered Species Act.”

From The Honey Bee Health Coalition, in part…

“The Strategy released by the National Pollinator Health Task Force underscore the importance of pollinator health for agriculture and the environment,” said George Hansen, a commercial beekeeper, past president of the American Beekeeping Federation, and a member of the Coalition’s Steering Committee. “As one of the largest and most diverse public-private partnerships already working to address honey bee health across agriculture, the Honey Bee Health Coalition is eager and ready to support the implementation of the Strategy.  In fact, the Coalition is already working to advance collaborative solutions and is poised to drive commitments and positive impacts on the ground.”

“The Honey Bee Health Coalition appreciates the Task Force’s comprehensive, multi-factor approach recognizing the need for collective action on multiple fronts as well as the positive role that all stakeholders can play in this effort,” said Julie Shapiro, Coalition facilitator and senior policy director at Keystone Policy Center. “The Strategy accentuates the importance of the work that the Coalition is already undertaking that will help achieve goals related to reducing honey bee colony overwintering losses and restoring and enhancing pollinator habitat.  Coalition members look forward to working with the Task Force and other private and public partners in implementing the Strategy to achieve a vision of Healthy Bees, Healthy People, Healthy Planet.”

The Coalition is working to put the best available tools, techniques, and technologies in the hands of beekeepers so they can better manage their hives.

Coalition members are collaborating to 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’s goal of restoring and enhancing 7 million acres of pollinator habitat, Federal actions and public-private partnerships.  Restoration and enhancement of pollinator forage also supports the goal of reducing overwintering losses of managed honey bees.  

  • The Coalition is advancing communication, education, and solution building across diverse stakeholders to control crop pests while safeguarding pollinator health. The Coalition’s activities align with President Obama’s call for “identification of existing and new methods and best practices to reduce pollinator exposure to pesticides” and support overall goals related to honey bee and pollinator health.
    • The Coalition has developed a quick guide for incident reporting and an accompanying article released in Bee Culture Magazine in May 2015; it is being promoted through Coalition member efforts.

The Coalition is promoting outreach, education, and communications to raise awareness of honey bee health challenges and opportunities and to encourage collaboration to improve honey bee health.

From The EPA…

In support of the Strategy EPA is taking the following actions to protect pollinators from pesticide exposure:

And Excerpts From an early release Washington Post article by Juliet Eilperin

The strategy, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post, will seek to manage the way forests burned by wildfire are replanted, the way offices are landscaped and the way roadside habitats where bees feed are preserved.
It is also the culmination of a years-long fascination Obama has had with the bee and its worrisome fate.
“I have to say that it is mighty darn lovely having the White House acknowledge the indigenous, unpaid and invisible workforce that somehow has managed to sustain all terrestrial life without health-care subsidies, or a single COLA, for that past 250 million years,” said Sam Droege, a U.S. Geological Survey wildlife biologist and one of the country’s foremost experts on native bee identification.
The federal government has undertaken two targeted initiatives in the past: a 2007 action plan on honeybee colony collapse disorder and 2008 North American recovery strategy for monarch butterflies. But this one, which has drawn on the work of 14 agencies as well as the private sector, is more ambitious.
It aims to reduce honeybee colony losses during winter to no more than 15 percent within a decade, and increase the Eastern population of the monarch butterfly so that 225 million butterflies occupy roughly 15 acres of wintering grounds in Mexico by 2020. The government and private entities will also restore or enhance 7 million acres of land for pollinators over the next five years.
Environmental groups including the Natural Resources Defense Council and Earthjustice have been pressuring the Environmental Protection Agency to outlawneonicotinoid pesticides, which are banned in Europe, on the grounds that they are toxic to bees. In March, the EPA issued a moratorium on approving any new use permits for these kinds of insecticides, and on Tuesday, it will announce it’s accelerating its review of their impact. The agency will issue its first assessment at the end of this year — two years earlier than scheduled — and will finalize regulatory action by the end of 2018, a year ahead of schedule.
The agency will also impose new restrictions on what pesticides farmers can use when commercial honeybees are pollinating their crops.
CropLife America chief executive Jay Vroom, whose group represents pesticide manufacturers and participated in the task force, said that while his members might disagree with the EPA at times, they’ve “continued to be science-based and balanced” at the agency.
Simon Fraser University biology professor Mark Winston, however, said the administration is not pushing big agricultural producers hard enough to grow diverse crops and dramatically cut the amount of toxic pesticides they put on crops.
“If you don’t change farming and you don’t change pesticide use, you’re not going to make substantial changes in the health of pollinators,” Winston said.

If you’ve made it this far, congratulations. Of course we, too have thoughts on this report. We are, however, doing a bit of digging so we understand all aspects of this, and can respond with appropriate questions, and reactions. For all the latest beekeeping news, check out