Project Apis m. Funds Dr. Judy Wu-Smart to investigate the impacts of pesticide-treated seed recycling in Nebraska.
Beekeepers have been re-locating their apiaries from Nebraska for years. Well before the public became aware of an ethanol plant producing pesticide-laden by-products, there had already been a concerning trend of beekeepers leaving Nebraska.
Dr. Marion Ellis, head of the Bee Lab at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) saw the pattern begin during his tenure. Beekeepers were migrating out of the state as more pastureland in the area was planted with corn, and especially when that corn was treated with organophosphate insecticides to control corn rootworm. Organophosphate insecticides are persistent in the environment and are highly toxic to bees, but beekeepers were reluctant to complain to friends and family who farmed the land. As Ellis said, “It became really hard to keep bees in the Corn Belt.”
More recently, large-scale career beekeepers with thousands of colonies have continued that exodus from Nebraska because they cannot afford the high bee losses year after year.1 A new publication representing a major collaboration across state and federal organizations puts some concerning data behind the trends. It highlights that bees in Nebraska are dealing with a disproportionately high number of pesticides detected at higher levels than most other states and the neonicotinoids clothianidin and thiamethoxam contributed significantly to the hazard quotient (the risk) posed to bees in Nebraska.2
Many of us experienced pandemic-related shipping issues over the last year-especially around the holidays. The United States Postal Service (USPS) in particular is still recovering from the holiday crunch. USPS is required to ship lives bees, and helping businesses connect with their customers is part of their mission:
“-To serve the American people and, through the universal service obligation, bind our nation together by maintaining and operating our unique, vital and resilient infrastructure.
-To provide trusted, safe and secure communications and services between our Government and the American people, businesses and their customers, and the American people with each other.
-To serve all areas of our nation, making full use of evolving technologies.”
With package bee season right around the corner, and spring queen orders kicking into high gear, how is a strained USPS impacting queen and package producers?
Dr. Jeff Pettis, who has worked on improving bee shipping protocols said “Most shippers I know have used UPS more than USPS, but if they use the post office it’s always priority mail.” And a representative from Kona Queens indicated they are having success with FEDEX lately.