Honey Bee Heath Coalition report

The Honey Bee Health Coalition (HBHC) semi-annual meeting, with over 30 members in attendance, was held at the American Farm Bureau Federation in Washington, D.C. this past fall. Our meeting concluded with a high-profile reception atop the Department of Interior Building in Washington, partnered with the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign (NAPPC). The reception underscored the progress being made on the Coalition’s network with policymakers and allies working to strengthen honey bee health. Both efforts are highlighted in the White House’s National Pollinator Health Strategy as key examples of public-private partnerships.

HBHC showcased a video about the Coalition’s mission and progress to-date, introduced by Oregon’s George Hansen, ABF representative, at the reception. The video highlights the Coalition’s mission and ongoing work to promote honey bee health through collaborative strategies. (See 4th Quarter HBHC newsletter for hotlinks to HBHC membership, the video and our progress on Bee Health) http://honeybeehealthcoalition.org/category/newsletter/

Following the HBHC DC meeting, WAS & OSBA representative Dewey M. Caron, with the support of Coalition member Bayer CropScience, participated in a media tour to inform diverse DC media outlets about Coalition activities. This tour, not intended to produce actual media coverage, was organized to provide information on Bee Health activities. With the Bayer representatives Dr. Becky Langer and Dr. Ian Kelly, Dewey visited reporters in the offices of National Public Radio (NPR), InsideEPA.com, Politico, CQ (Congressional Quarterly) Roll Call, Bloomberg News, Agri-Pulse, THE HILL, and the Bloomberg Bureau of National Affairs (Bloomberg BNA).

The conversations gravitated around the Coalition’s mission and recent activities, including a summary of progress of our four working groups and the release of our Tools for Varroa Management Guide. As principal author of this document, I explained how this resource, with its emphasis on sampling and IPM, presents a best management approach to assist beekeepers, and those utilizing bee colonies in pollination, how to reduce the negative impacts of Varroa mites and the viruses they transmit. Dr. Langer and Dr. Kelly spoke to some of the contributions Bayer CropScience has made in the area of honey bee health, their Feed a Bee effort and their Healthy Hives 2020 initiative (I am part of this advisory group).

The HBHC is partnering with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) to bring key Managed Pollinator Protection Plan (MP3) stakeholders together in early 2016. Rose Kachadoorian of ODA and I will both be attending.

The Tools for Varroa Management Guide will soon be updated to include new information on Hopguard II. This varrocide now has a federal Section 3 label and there is new data on how best we might incorporate it into our varroa control plans. The Tools guide is accessible at: http://honeybeehealthcoalition.org/varroa/ The Coalition has received a grant from the National Honey Board to produce a series of how-to-do videos to assist beekeepers to better utilize the information in the Tools Guide on monitoring for varroa and through use of chemical and non-chemical treatments. I am working on the script; taping will take place in June, likely in a PNW apiary. Videos should be available by the fall of 2016.

The next HBHC meeting will be in May in St. Louis. WAS has asked that I continue to represent them and OSBA continues its support for the Coalition’s efforts.