Bee careful out there

  • Big problem

    Big problem

    The plight of nature’s pollinators continued as a big story this spring, with reports showing that honey bee hive numbers had declined again over winter--by as much as 50%.

  • What's to blame?

    What's to blame?

    Agriculture is a big beneficiary of healthy pollinator populations, but is blamed for bee losses through use of pesticides and destruction of habitat. Disease, drought, and parasites are also possible causes for the decline, experts say. 

  • Corn and controversy

    Corn and controvery

    In March, a group of beekeepers and activist organizations sued the EPA for approving the registration of neonicotinoids (NNCs), claiming the insecticides are highly toxic to honey bees. An estimated 94% of seed corn in treated with NNCs. New research is looking at ways to reduce honey bee exposure to corn planting dust.

  • Trouble in town, too

    Trouble in town, too

    Many NNCs sold for use on lawns and gardens  have recommended application rates of up to 120 times higher than those approved for agriculture, according to a study. 

  • An industry response

    An industry response

    The Bayer Bee Care Tour this spring has presented research on bee health issues and offered management advice to farmers. Bayer makes NNCs, as well as a miticide for bee care.

  • 'Unsustainable'


    Speakers on the tour, while defending use of NNCs, said that the bee crisis is a major threat to agriculture. “Clearly, [the] magnitude of losses is unsustainable," said Robyn Kneen, Bayer bee expert.

  • How to help

    How to help

    Experts offer a number of tips to corn farmers, including: Calibrate your planter so it doesn’t stir up dust; minimize dust when filling or emptying your planter; don't use more talc or graphite than recommended; clean planters and seed boxes away from sensitive areas with pollinator habitat.

  • Habitat help

    Habitat help

    Farmers also can help by planting pollinator habitat. On the author’s farm in Nebraska, plans are to plant a patch of pollinator habitat on CRP. An 8-acre area along this windbreak will be prepared this spring and a 12-species mix seeded in the fall.

  • Rise of the natives

    Rise of the natives

    New habitat will encourage native bees and other pollinators that can help honey bees. More than 4,000 species of bees exist in America.

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