USDA recently completed its Varroa Mite Summit, a meeting that the National Cotton Council (NCC) lauds as a key step to helping stop the decline of honey bee health.
The mid-February meeting in Riverdale, MD, was assembled at the urging of the American Honey Producers Association after recognizing the valid Varroa mite threat. The NCC supported the summit request and joined 15 other agricultural organizations in sending letters to EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention and USDA’s Office of Pest Management Policy in October 2013, urging those organizations to participate in a Varroa mite summit,
USDA is charged with the responsibility of bee health research, and EPA reviews and registers pesticides.
During the Summit, scientists and stakeholders with significant knowledge about the pest shared insights, reviewed research progress and discussed ideas for developing and implementing an effective Varroa mite management program. The Summit also served as a forum for building collaborative efforts to improve the understanding of the causes of bee losses.
Keith Menchey, NCC manager, Science and Environmental Issues, said the Summit was a timely and logical follow-up to the USDA Agricultural Research Service’s Colony Collapse Disorder and Honeybee Health Steering Committee National Stakeholders Meeting on Honey Bee Health in late 2012.
“The NCC also participated in that 2012 meeting, and we continue to work closely with USDA, EPA, beekeepers, product registrants and others to find workable solutions to colony collapse disorder and honey bee health decline,” Menchey said.
EPA and USDA are struggling to address the massive decline of bee populations since 2006, with EPA focusing on risks to bees and pesticides and USDA seeking to address other factors. Last year, the two agencies issued a joint report on honey bee health that identified multiple stressors for the population decline, including the Varroa mite, pesticide exposures, lack of genetic diversity, declining forage area and disease.
In addition to the risks posed by the parasites, USDA says that pesticides used to control Varroa mites have adversely affected honey bees and that mite resistance to those products is growing. Menchey reported that USDA is urging development of alternative pest control methods, and that research into new miticides and other means for parasite control – including RNA interference – are promising.
Source – National Cotton Council