Dr. Don Parker, NCC’s manager of Integrated Pest Management, told attendees at the American Honey Producers Assoc. (AHPA) 2013 national convention that the U.S. cotton industry is concerned with the level of attention being given to pesticides as a factor of declining bee colonies.

An invited speaker at the convention in San Diego, Calif., on Jan. 8-12, Parker emphasized that recent surveys of beekeepers have indicated the greatest concerns were starvation, weather, weak colonies in the fall and lack of mite control -- yet most news media outlets have provided the public with stories related to pesticides. He further emphasized the change in pesticide use in cotton production with little use of organophosphates that once dominated the market.

(See related: Honey bee losses defy solitary explanations)

Parker noted cotton’s environmental footprint has continued to improve over time and that the industry is interested in working with producers and beekeepers to identify improvements at local levels rather than mandates that do not fit an individual production region’s different needs. He also encouraged beekeepers to learn more about crop producers’ different pest protection needs and why they select the products they select. He urged beekeepers to recognize that there are many areas in which producers and beekeepers could work together to address greater needs for pollinators such as habitat.

He also expressed concerns that regulations from EPA limiting producers’ choice of products to protect yield could reduce the cooperation of producers who might then feel that allowing hives on their land creates a liability.

Additional information about AHPA is at www.ahpanet.com.