Building a backup for the embattled honeybee

With the honeybee under siege, by pesticides, parasites and disease, The Wonderful Company—the world's largest almond grower—hired a scientist to build it a replacement pollinator, according to FERN's latest story, published with Scientific American.

Oregon Democrat wants a ban on neonics in the farm bill

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.

Pesticide companies tried to keep their honeybee studies secret

Pesticide manufacturers Syngenta and Bayer appear to have secreted away studies that showed their pesticides did serious harm to honeybees, rather than revealing the results to the public. After Greenpeace obtained the studies from the EPA through the Freedom of Information Act, scientists are calling on the two companies to operate with more transparency, says The Guardian.

To help honeybees, Minnesota limits use of neonics

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton issued an executive order limiting the use of neonicotinoid pesticides to a demonstrated need by farmers to prevent economic losses to their crops, says Minnesota Public Radio. The pesticides are believed to be a factor in steep declines in bee populations, along with parasites, disease, poor nutrition and bad weather.

Honeybee colonies heavily affected by Varroa mites

During spring and summer, four of 10 honeybee colonies will be under stress from Varroa mites, beekeepers said in the first issue of USDA's Honey Bee Colonies report. By far, the parasitic insects are a greater problem than other pests, diseases, pesticides, bad weather and poor nutrition, according to the survey of beekeepers.

Honeybee colony losses highest since 2013

Beekeepers across the United States lost 44 percent of their honeybee colonies in the past year, nearly as bad as losses sustained in 2012-13, according to a survey by researchers. Losses were more than twice the economically acceptable rate for owners of the pollinators that add an estimated $15 billion to U.S. agriculture through higher yields.

Varroa mite more prevalent than thought among honeybees

A five-year survey of parasites and diseases affecting honeybee colonies found the varroa mite, regarded as a major factor in population declines, "is far more abundant than previous estimates indicated and is closely linked to several damaging viruses," says Feedstuffs.

Senate chairman tells EPA to be judicious in ‘neonic’ review

The EPA should "proceed with utmost caution and continuously re-evaluate the underlying assumptions of your approach" in its ongoing review of neonicotinoid insecticides, said chairman Jim Imhofe of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

Partial ban on neonic pesticides advances in Maryland

The state Senate has passed and sent to the House a bill, SB 198, that would make Maryland "the first state in the United States to place a partial ban on the sale of certain pesticides, which have been blamed for deaths of bees around the world," says public broadcaster WAMU-FM.

Wild bumblebees are up for endangered species status

Federal wildlife biologists are considering whether to declare wild bumblebees endangered, reports The Denver Post.