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.
A test of 42 commonly used pesticides found seven that killed practically no bees, including the neonicotinoid acetamiprid and the weedkiller glyphosate, said the Entomological Society of America. In the study by scientists from USDA's Agricultural Research Service and Mississippi State University, 26 pesticides, including neonicotinoids, organophosphates and pyrethroids killed nearly all the bees that came into contact with the pesticide sprays.
During the Plains Ginners Association’s annual meeting in Lubbock, Texas, on Monday, House Agriculture Committee chairman Mike Conaway said President Obama had developed an “unreasonable devotion to honeybees.”
Changing environmental conditions around the world "could negatively impact the health of millions of people by altering the amount and quality of key crops," according to two studies from the Harvard School of Public Health.
There is evidence that bumblebees, a wild pollinator of crops and wildflowers, "are getting squeezed by our planet's changing climate," says the NPR blog The Salt.
The provincial government of Ontario proposed a three-point initiative to reduce use of corn and soybean seed treated with neonicotinoid pesticides by 80 percent by 2017, to reduce over-wintering deaths of honeybees by 15 percent by 2020 and to develop a comprehensive plan for pollinator health, says the CBC.
Honey bees show more resistance to pesticides if they eat a natural diet of pollen than artificial diets such as soy protein, say researchers at Penn State University.
Some 23,300 bee keepers nationwide would be contacted about honeybee mortality under a pair of surveys proposed by the Agriculture Department.
Landowners in five states in the upper Midwest are eligible for $8 million in payments if they establish new habitat for honey bees on land enrolled in the Conservation Reserve, says USDA.