The Federal Colony Collapse Disorder Steering Committee (CCD SC) held a national stakeholder conference seeking input on issues involving honey bee health.

The CCD SC (comprised of representatives from USDA and EPA) invited stakeholder representatives from beekeepers, advocacy groups, state agencies, beekeeper manufacturers, commodity groups, agrochemical producers and government/academia researchers to Arlington, Va., for a two-day session to review progress and gather input for future research needs. Opening remarks were presented by USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan, EPA Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe and National Institute of Food & Agriculture Director Sonny Ramaswamy. The CCD SC organized breakout groups to focus on items in nutrition, biology, genetics/breeding, pesticides, pathogens and arthropods.

NCC staff participating in the conference’s pesticide section encouraged USDA to ensure pesticide research includes crop experts and pollinator experts in order to avoid results that fail to represent field-relevant operations and pollinator behavior. Also urged were: landscape ecology studies to provide a better understanding of where and when pollinators feed on various crops; utilization of bee models to identify significant parameters that would affect colony survival in order to prioritize research needs; identification of funding opportunities that would allow partnerships with industry without penalizing researchers (researchers receiving funding from private industry are excluded from most federal expert panels although federal funding is not available for those type research needs); improvement of beekeeper access to public lands in order to avoid pesticide risks in croplands; and improvement of communication of supporting science that identifies measures crop producers can use to greater reduce pesticide risks to honey bees in crop landscapes.

The stakeholder comments were taken into consideration by the steering committee and will be part of a congressional report. The congressional mandate affiliated with the action is contained in the 2008 farm law (section 7204[h][4]). The fourth annual report is at www.ars.usda.gov/is/br/ccd/ccdprogressreport2012.pdf.