Scientists are discovering that wild bees are far better pollinators than the honeybees that dominate commercial agriculture, according to FERN's latest story, published with HuffPost. But that discovery, which coincides with a worldwide collapse in pollinator numbers, spotlights a "desperate need" for new approaches to farming that work with these wild bees.(No paywall)
Four years after an adverse ruling by a federal appeals court, the EPA approved the insecticide sulfoxaflor for use on a wide variety of crops, saying the chemical posed less of a risk to honeybees than previously thought. The law firm that won the 2015 ruling said the EPA decision "to remove restrictions on yet another bee-killing pesticide is nothing short of reckless."
After a sharp drop in 2017, colony collapse disorder hit more U.S. honeybee operators this year, said USDA on Wednesday. The annual Honey Bee Colonies report said 77,800 colonies were lost to the disorder during the first quarter of this year, a 15-percent increase from 2017 for operations with five or more colonies. January through March is traditionally the period with the highest losses.
Beekeepers lost three of every 10 of their managed honeybee colonies to harsh weather this past winter, the highest winter mortality rate in five years, according to a nationwide survey released on Wednesday.
The member nations of the EU voted for a near-total ban of neonicotinoid insecticides, over the objections of farmers and pesticide manufacturers. Known as neonics, the chemicals are the most widely used class of insecticides in the world and have been linked by scientific studies to the decline in honeybees and other pollinators, said BBC News.
At the University of Nebraska, researchers are experimenting with the agricultural landscape to see if modifications such as windbreaks or cover crops will limit pesticide drift and help bees avoid harmful exposure to the chemicals. Farmers generally plant corn and soybean seeds coated with neonicotinoid insecticides, which can be rubbed off of the seed during planting and land on plants visited by foraging bees, says Harvest Public Media.
Scientists at Cornell University "found a shocker" when they analyzed two dozen environmental factors that may be at play in the decline in bumblebee populations: "Fungicides," says a Cornell release. "The scientists discovered what they call 'landscape-scale' connections between fungicide usage, pathogen prevalence and declines of endangered U.S. bumblebees."
Many Americans know that honeybees are threatened by colony collapse disorder, but few of them realize just how many different kinds of bees there are, says a study published in the online edition of Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.
A nationwide survey of beekeepers found a smaller loss of honey bee colonies this year than last, said USDA in its annual Honey Bee Colonies report. The USDA report, which gauged the bee inventory are recently as mid-year, was in line with university researchers who reported in May that losses are moderating after steep drops in the population of the important pollinating insects.
Oregon Rep. Earl Blumenauer "wants to include a ban on pesticides linked to declining bee health in next year's farm bill," says Bloomberg BNA. The Democrat, who is not a member of the committee that will write the farm bill, would suspend EPA approval of neonicotinoid pesticides until the agency determines they don't harm pollinators, such as honeybees.