Practical Research, Varroa Mite Issues Discussed During Pollinator Week

Practical Research, Varroa Mite Issues Discussed During Pollinator Week

National Pollinator Week prime time to focus on improving pollinator health, management of the varroa mite

CropLife America this week said continued focus on responsible management of the varroa mite and practical research to assist in the improvement of pollinator health is needed during this, National Pollinator Week.

Pollinator Week, which started Monday and runs until June 22, reinforces the importance of pollinators in U.S. agriculture.

Related: 'Bee-safe' Biopesticide Could Be Neonicotinoid Alternative

"As discussions around pollinator health continue at the regulatory level, it is critical that we focus on finding workable solutions," said Jay Vroom, president and CEO of CLA.

The black dot on this honey bee is a varroa mite, a parasite that sucks vital fluids like a tick but also acts like a mosquito, transmitting viruses and other pathogens to the bee. (USDA photo)

"Many in the beekeeping and scientific community have confirmed that the Varroa mite is the most harmful pest to honey bees. CLA hopes to see more research conducted on the Varroa mite, as well as potential tactics that incorporate the use of specialized crop protection products."

Accorrding to Vroom, miticides that are responsibly applied in bee colonies offer a potential solution for controlling mites without harming honey bees.

Pollinator week is not the first in a line of defense for pollinator health – the USDA and U.S. EPA earlier this year hosted a summit dedicated to discussing the impacts of the Varroa mite on the health of honey bees.

At the summit, stakeholders offered perspectives on the Varroa mite, reviewed research and recommended future research priorities to improve management and mitigation tactics.

Related: USDA Finds Winter Bee Colony Losses Fewer, but Levels Still Unsustainable

The House Agriculture Committee's Subcommittee on Horticulture, Research, Biotechnology, and Foreign Agriculture also convened a public hearing in April to discuss approaches to managing potential threats to pollinators.

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Witness testimonies during the hearing confirmed some of the primary factors affecting pollinators, including parasitic Varroa mites. Beekeeping management practices, lack of adequate nutrition and forage, various diseases and pesticide applications were also discussed during the hearing.

Supporting practical research
According to CLA, it is estimated that pollinators directly impact 35% of the world's agriculture. Bees are responsible for pollinating grapes, strawberries, avocados and cucumbers, among many other food crops.

Approximately one-third of the crops used to produce foods and beverages are dependent on pollinators as well.

Related: NRCS Pledges $3 Million for Honey Bee Health

In addition to practical bee research, CLA supports other pollinator-focused initiatives such as advocating best stewardship practices of crop protection products; increasing pollinator habitat and forage; advancing education and outreach activities; and participating in public and private partnerships to promote pollinator health.

For more information on Pollinator Week, which is managed by the Pollinator Partnership, visit www.pollinator.org.

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