The Beekeeper’s Companion Since 1861
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Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor – December 2020

- December 1, 2020 - (excerpt)

Beekeeping in National forests

After reading the “Say No to Banning Honey Bees in National Forests” letter [Letters to the Editor, October] and downloading and reading the Xerces petition, I would say both have valid points. The petition pointed out a concern of mine; that introduced managed bee colonies might bring the risk of introducing diseases and parasites into any population of natural (feral) honey bee colonies already residing within the National Forests/Parks. Another concern I would have is the effect of maladapted genetics from managed bee colonies brought into the Forests. As Seeley and other researchers have shown, large natural areas of woodlands can harbor a population of adapted natural bee colonies which may possess unique genetics and unique solutions to the diseases/pests within their own environment. They have then become a part of that environment worthy of the protections afforded inhabitants of our National Forests and Parks. More studies would be beneficial, however I have seen research already showing that there are effects both ways between native and introduced pollinators. Most of the beekeeping literature I’ve seen doesn’t recommend woods/forests as very productive apiary locations, and possibly one is not collecting honey, but rather honeydew from some of them.

But there is a reason that nullifies all others as to why I say Yes to banning managed honey bee colonies in our National Forests and Parks: I want to see them as close to natural as possible; I don’t want to see beehives/beekeepers within them any more than I’d want to see a coal mine, oil well, or any other unnatural intrusion.

Terry Combs
Beekeeper and retired Coal Miner
Keyesport, Illinois

Science and Skepticism

I found Rusty Burlew’s article on science and all the many human errors, mistakes and bias that can destroy its accuracy, a very good article. Good science with peer review is how we learn the truth, with repeatability.

Of course varroa is probably our biggest problem, and its effect on winter survival. What was screaming to me though was, the global warming theory of sure linkage to fossil fuel use. It seems to be guilty of almost all of the mistakes mentioned in the article. I mean there is only one example (our earth) and the variables are as many as the world has.

There, I said it, so let the music start. The proponents usually call us skeptics unkind names.

Dale Lesser
Dexter, Michigan

Ban all Neonicotinoids

We were pleased to read the Notes from the Cornell University Pollinator Laboratory concerning the risk assessment for the neonicotinoids [Notes from the Lab, September 2020]. This was an exhaustive study with important information for beekeepers and others who are interested in bees. There are a few items that we would like to bring to the attention of the authors and the readers. The first item concerns the statement that acetamiprid is much less toxic to bees than the nitroguanidine insecticides (imidacloprid, clothianidin, thiamethoxam, and dinotefuran). If you look at EPA’s recent assessment of acetamiprid (https://www.regula
, pp.44-45), you will see that the acute and chronic toxicity bee studies submitted by the pesticide manufacturer were not fully acceptable. Some of the early acute bee studies lacked a dose response curve. Chronic studies (semi-field studies) with bees were conducted at less than the maximum application rates, were not conducted long enough for a chronic study, and may have been affected by rain events. A full field study also had serious deficiencies and was not fully acceptable. Despite these deficiencies, EPA determined that for bees the dietary acute and chronic risk quotients exceeded the levels of concern for foliar applications of acetamiprid.

The European Food and Safety Authority (EFSA) reviewed the industry-submitted chronic studies for bees and concluded (
) that they had “severe deficiencies and drawbacks” based on “short duration [of the studies], lack of exposure measurement, and low number of colonies used.”  For these reasons, EFSA further concluded that “these studies cannot be used to draw any firm conclusion on the risk [of acetamiprid] to honeybees.”

EPA’s risk assessment noted that the only industry-submitted test that was acceptable was one of the RT25 assays.  The results of this study, though, are highly variable depending on the species of bee, age and sex of the bee, foliage used in the test, formulation of the pesticide product, weather conditions, application rate, etc. Because of the high variability of this test, it is not …