Beekeepers Speak Out on Pesticides

Steve Ellis 

Old Mill Honey Company

     For commercial beekeepers, pesticide damage to bees is hugely impactful, with losses in the hundreds or even thousands of colonies.  But for hobbyist beekeepers like Charles and Lisa Jacks, the loss of a few colonies can also feel like a major disaster.  

 

     In a typical year, the Jacks keep three hives. In the early spring of 2021, their bee compound had increased to ten colonies after splitting and capturing additional swarms.  Residents of a community outside of Snellville, Georgia known as the “Promised Land,” the Jacks have about a half acre of property around their home and were busily caring for the bees during the active spring season.  Their hives are placed facing the house in the backyard, and the loud buzzing sound as they walk out of their backdoor has been a source of pleasure for years.  “It's a nice feeling, hearing the bees at their work, ” Lisa recalled.

 

     In May 2021, a pest control company representative campaigned door to door in the neighborhood with the hopes of drumming up some business, promoting services with their company sales pitch of “We can kill anything!” The rep approached Charles and Lisa, who firmly declined the services, explaining that their property was maintained as a wildlife habitat and included multiple beehives. They asked that no pesticides be applied near their home as they were concerned about damage to pollinators and other wildlife.  The company rep assured them that all of their products were “environmentally friendly pesticides,” and the Jacks took a bit of time to explain that this was a misnomer, that applying a pesticide always has an impact on the environment and that bees were particularly susceptible to damage from pesticides.  Charles requested that he receive notification from the company if any product was applied to the surrounding properties.  He did not receive notification but the pest control company truck was visible in the neighborhood over the next several days, seen applying their “environmentally friendly” pesticide to other homes on their street. 

dead bees in hive .jpg

     

Charles and Lisa Jacks

Promised Land, Georgia

Reprinted by permission from Bee Culture Magazine, originally published in November 2022 issue 

 

 

 

     A couple of days after first seeing the truck, Lisa walked outside into the warm sunshine to complete silence.  No hum of bees.  She walked around the corner to the hive compound to find the ground completely littered with dead bees.  Charles joined her and as they were viewing the damage, there were bees literally dropping from the air in front of them.  They immediately identified the possibility that the bees had been exposed to toxic chemicals sprayed by the pest control company.  Reaching out to local bee groups to share their experience and ask for advice, they were provided contacts for the University of Georgia and the state agriculture department to address their concern and losses. 

 

     The references proved to be invaluable. The department of agriculture sent out an agent who took samples of bees, wax, and honey. Testing revealed the presence of the broad-spectrum insecticide fipronil in the bee samples.  Fipronil is a widely used pesticide, applied around homes to kill fleas, ants, ticks, and cockroaches.  It is highly toxic to many creatures including rabbits, many types of fish and birds, lizards, and bees. Fipronil is a systemic pesticide, prone to drift and runoff, and often found in residential settings (Gan, 2012). It is also extremely toxic in much lower doses than many other systemic pesticides. Studies show that fipronil is present in groundwater samples even in countries where agricultural or outdoor residential use is banned, likely from the use of pet flea treatment products such as Frontline.  Agricultural use of fipronil in the EU was banned in 2017, but applications of this toxic pesticide continue in the US primarily for use in granular turf products, seed treatments, topical pet care products, termiticides, and agricultural uses. For the past several years there has been increasing concern over groundwater contamination, one study states “ In the Southeast, where fipronil was detected more frequently than in the other four regions, 52% of streams sampled had fipronil compound concentrations that exceeded the benign level.” (Miller, 2020).  

 

     When Charles and Lisa’s bees were killed, they were most likely impacted by drift or direct exposure during the application process.  Although fipronil was found in the bodies of the dead bees, it was not found in the wax or honey which would indicate acute rather than chronic exposure.   After analyzing testing results, the state agency requested documentation and records from the pest control company and found multiple violations including a lack of proper training for pesticide applicators and inaccuracies in legally required record keeping. The state agriculture department cited the infraction and levied a penalty fee against the pest control company.  The Jacks lost 7 of their ten hives from exposure to fipronil. One neighbor reported the loss of chickens, and others found dead songbirds in their yards.  

 

     Two months after the bee kill, the pesticide company trucks returned to the neighborhood, and Charles and Lisa Jacks began the process of reporting and testing yet another bee kill. This time, the state agency revoked the pest control company’s permit. 

 

     Although reporting did not help Charles and Lisa recover their losses, their experience highlights the importance of reporting bee kills and pesticide incidents to state agencies. Hobbyist beekeepers often refrain from reporting pesticide incidents as they compare their losses with those at the commercial level. But a 70% loss in colonies due to pesticide exposure feels catastrophic to any beekeeper.    Reporting suspected pesticide damage to bees is a critical step in data collection and can play a major role in the permitting and regulatory process.  Without this data, regulatory agencies rely on studies funded by pesticide manufacturers, who have been accused of downplaying risk factors and including biased information.  Dr. Delena Norris-Tull from the University of Montana Western, writes

 

     “The US EPA is responsible for approving herbicides and pesticides for use in the United States. In order for a product to be approved, and thus registered for use, the EPA has to conclude that the product, when used according to the label instructions, is not likely to cause unreasonable adverse effects to humans or the environment. The chemical company is required to provide data on the product related to potential toxicity to mammals, soil residues, potential exposure in food and drinking water, any cumulative effects of the product, its safety for infants, children and adults, and its potential impacts on immune and endocrine systems. In my 2017 interview with Slade Franklin, Wyoming Department of Agriculture Weed and Pest Coordinator, he told me, ‘The EPA requires the agrochemical companies to conduct their own research to prove the safety of their chemicals. The companies give grants to university scientists to conduct the research.’” (Norris-Tull, 2020)

     The Jacks were fortunate to find assistance and support from regulatory agencies in their home state of Georgia. As beekeepers in other parts of the country are keenly aware, states differ greatly in their reporting process and many beekeepers have experienced significant barriers and lack of support when attempting to report a bee kill.  The EPA provides a webpage of contacts for state regulatory agencies but many of the links do not work and contact information is often outdated. 

 

     Clearly, the ideal way to deal with a bee kill from pesticide exposure is to prevent it from happening.  Whenever possible, beekeepers should work to establish a positive presence in their community, promoting the benefits of neighborhood bees.   Creating “buy-in” from the neighborhood increases the likelihood that nearby residents may consider the health of hives and elect to use more bee-friendly products, offer notification of pest control presence in the neighborhood, or provide advance warning of any potentially harmful pesticide applications. If there are concerns over the presence of a pest control company in the neighborhood, a beekeeper may wish to contact the company representative,  requesting a list of products and chemical composition as well application methods including details such as timing of application. It may be possible to coordinate an application strategy that minimizes risk and some companies may be agreeable to such terms.  

 

     If a beekeeper has concerns regarding the certification status of a commercial pesticide applicator, many states provide an online catalog of current pesticide license information. For example, Washington state offers an online form searchable by person, license number, or company, and includes detailed information such as training and certification dates, endorsements, approval for use of ground or aerial equipment, and operator information.   Other states may require more effort to access such detailed information, but it is most commonly available through agencies such as the Departments of Agriculture, Health, or Environmental Protection. 

 

     In the event of acute pesticide exposure, it is important to collect and maintain evidence.  Beekeepers should photograph dead bees, equipment, and other relevant items or areas.  If a state agency rep is not immediately available to take samples, it is permissible to collect dead bees and comb and store them in the freezer for future testing opportunities.  Ideally, the state regulatory agency will make a site inspection, collect samples and conduct testing, contact the pesticide company to determine any issues related to improper use, and follow up with fines or other penalties as needed.  In many states, beekeepers have reported a decided lack of support from agencies even when a reporting process should be in place. Additionally, states are not legally obligated to share reports of bee kills/pesticide incidents with federal regulatory agencies.  While some states do take the important step of sharing their pesticide incident data with the EPA, many do not.   The Pollinator Stewardship Council provides a free service to submit state-level reports with the EPA for members residing in states who do not report at the federal level.  
 

     For beekeepers residing in states with insufficient support for bee kill reporting, the use of social media or news outlets can be useful tools in calling attention to the need for regulatory agencies to document bee kills and conduct investigations to determine the source and any improper use or application of pesticides. The Pollinator Stewardship Council offers a number of resources to support social media campaigns for beekeepers, and will share calls to action such as legislative campaigns with the PSC audience upon request. 

 

     Bees are often seen as the quintessential “canary in a coal mine,” as their health is indicative of environmental health and the future of our food system. Dedicated beekeepers pay close attention to the vigour and well being of their bees by feeding, tending, and protecting them from threats including pesticides. The actions taken by the Jacks can have a broad impact on pollinator protection and actions like incident reporting can be a critical step in restoring pollinator health in the United States.  When beekeepers file incident reports, they are providing critical information that can be used to petition for regulatory changes including application directions, use restrictions, result in the removal of a pesticide from the marketplace. Organizations like the Pollinator Stewardship Council are dedicated to the protection of pollinator health, and seek to hold regulatory agencies accountable to ensure a safe environment for bees.  

References

Bonmatin, J.-M., Giorio, C., Girolami, V., Goulson, D., Kreutzweiser, D. P., Krupke, C., Liess, M., Long, E., Marzaro, M., Mitchell, E. A. D., Noome, D. A., Simon-Delso, N., & Tapparo, A. (2015, January). Environmental fate and exposure; neonicotinoids and Fipronil. Environmental science and pollution research international. Retrieved July 5, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4284396/

Costello, & Odenkirchen. (2005, August 1). US EPA-pesticides; fipronil. Fipronil Environmental Fate and Ecological Effects Assessment and Characterization. Retrieved July 5, 2022, from https://www3.epa.gov/pesticides/chem_search/cleared_reviews/csr_PC-129121_20-Jun-11_a.pdf 

Holder, P. J., Jones, A., Tyler, C. R., & Cresswell, J. E. (2018, December 18). Fipronil pesticide as a suspect in historical mass mortalities of Honey Bees. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. Retrieved July 5, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6304995/ 

Fipronil. National Pesticide Information Center. (n.d.). Retrieved July 5, 2022, from http://npic.orst.edu/factsheets/archive/fiptech.html#:~:text=Fipronil%20is%20used%20in%20granular,liquid%20termiticides%2C%20and%20in%20agriculture. 

 

Norris-Tull, D. (2020, October). Funding for research on pesticides. MANAGEMENT OF INVASIVE PLANTS IN THE WESTERN USA. Retrieved July 5, 2022, from https://www.invasiveplantswesternusa.org/funding-for-research-on-pesticides.html 

 

Gan, Jinhua & Bondarenko, S & Oki, Lorence & Haver, Darren & Li, J. (2012). Occurrence of Fipronil and Its Biologically Active Derivatives in Urban Residential Runoff. Environmental science & technology. 46. 1489-95. 10.1021/es202904x. 

 

Shabana Wazir, Sarfraz Ali Shad, (2022, January)Development of fipronil resistance, fitness cost, cross-resistance to other insecticides, stability, and risk assessment in Oxycarenus hyalinipennis (Costa),Science of The Total Environment, Volume 803, 2022, 150026, ISSN 0048-9697, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.150026.

(https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048969721051019)

 

Bonmatin, JM., Giorio, C., Girolami, V. et al. Environmental fate and exposure; neonicotinoids and fipronil. Environ Sci Pollut Res 22, 35–67 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-014-3332-7

Gan, Jinhua & Bondarenko, S & Oki, Lorence & Haver, Darren & Li, J. (2012). Occurrence of Fipronil and Its Biologically Active Derivatives in Urban Residential Runoff. Environmental science & technology. 46. 1489-95. 10.1021/es202904x. 

 

 J. L. Miller, T. S. Schmidt, P. C. Van Metre, B. J. Mahler, M. W. Sandstrom, L. H. Nowell, D. M. Carlisle, P. W. Moran, Common insecticide disrupts aquatic communities: A mesocosm to field ecological risk assessment of fipronil and its degradates in U.S. streams. Sci. Adv. 6, eabc1299 (2020). DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abc1299

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Steve Ellis

Old Mill Honey Company

     The nature of keeping bees has changed drastically over the past few decades.  In addition to honey production, commercial beekeepers increasingly depend on hive rental as a pollinator service.   California’s almond industry produces 80% of the world’s almonds and pollination services are required to ensure adequate pollination, with an estimated 70% of all commercial beekeepers providing pollinator services during almond bloom. According to the USDA, pollinators are responsible for one of every three bites of food we eat, and most of those pollinators are honeybees.  

 

     Beekeepers also face a remarkably different set of environmental challenges which include new pests and diseases, changes in climate, and exposure to chemicals. While there has been ample press highlighting the destructive nature of the varroa mite, there seems to be less public awareness regarding the catastrophic impact that some chemicals have on bees. While scientific research shows a link between exposure and bee population decline, most people are not adequately informed of the danger certain pesticides pose to bees.This is especially true in situations where bees are exposed to sublethal doses of pesticides because the damage is not immediate but instead develops over time.  In one study, bees fed a pesticide containing imidacloprid at the rate of 5 parts per billion had less capped brood which can ultimately lead to death by attrition (Meikle et al., 2016).  Because population decline due to exposure can happen over time, it may be challenging to determine when the exposure occurred.  But sometimes, there is an obvious link. 

     Steve Ellis began keeping bees in 1974 and by 1979 had moved into a commercial operation with his father-in-law and eventually took over the business.  Steve had a longstanding connection with a local farmer, who had provided one of the original sites to host his father-in-law’s bees back in the 1960s.   The farmer asked if Steve would be interested in setting out hives to pollinate sunflower fields as he had received a contract from a major seed house to grow and produce hybrid sunflower seed.  To produce this hybridized seed, two parent plants are bred for a hybrid offspring seed, which typically has improved genetics including increased vigor. To create the crop of hybrid sunflower seeds, farmers planted 6 rows of male plants alternating with 10 rows of female plants.  After bloom, the male plants were plowed under and the female plants continued through harvest.  To ensure ample pollination, Steve placed 1 hive of honeybees per acre of sunflowers and received payment of $50 per hive for this service. The farmer was pleased as the increase in pollination added to his yield and profits.  The seed company was gratified by the high quality and germination rate of the seed.  The bees were pleased and routinely produced 60-80 pounds of sunflower honey per hive.  Steve appreciated the added income of approximately $150 per hive in honey and pollination fees.  Due to the success of the initial endeavor, Steve was able to expand efforts and was soon providing pollination services for six sunflower seed farmers, with a combined space of 450 acres and annual revenue of over $67,000.  

 

     But in 2007, something changed. The bees stopped working and exhibited odd behaviors.  Honey production crashed to a mere 10 pounds per hive, a remarkable decrease of 85%.  Steve observed striking symptoms he hadn’t seen in his decades as a commercial beekeeper.   The bees appeared to be in good health, no increased deaths, and inside the hives appeared normal.   However, the bees acted strangely, with little interest in attending to the hundreds of acres of healthy looking flowers blooming in fair weather.  Flight was greatly reduced and bee behavior was odd.  He considered this unusual set of symptoms and recalled reading some years back about unusual bee behaviors and declines in France. He began doing some research to see if there might be a link. 

 

     In 1994, French beekeepers reported incidents of unusual behavior in honeybee populations followed by significant losses, referring to it as “mad bee disease” (Benjamin, A. 2012).  Bees appeared to be disoriented, failing to return to hives after gathering pollen and nectar.  This condition was believed to be the cause of nearly a 40% loss of bee colonies and researchers began to establish a possible link with this loss and the use of a type of systemic pesticide. This class of pesticide enters and travels throughout a plant’s tissue, killing the insects that feed on it.  In this way, flowers themselves are contaminated and honeybees are exposed to small amounts of these chemicals through their collection of pollen and nectar.   Bee population and honey production in western France dropped by an estimated 60%, with most of this loss occurring in areas in which Gaucho, a systemic neonicotinoid pesticide containing imidacloprid produced by Bayer Corp., was applied to sunflowers.  Franck Allaitru of the FDSEA Agriculture Union stated  “A poisoning problem from insecticide is the only explanation for the behaviour of the bees and their systematic disappearance during the first week that the sunflowers bloom” (UPI, 1998). As research linking imidacloprid use to hive loss poured in, France became the first nation to ban the class of systemic pesticides known as neonicotinoids. 

 

     However, use continued in other regions and in 2006 Gaucho sales topped $746 million. 

 

     Steve asked the farmer if he was aware of any changes in pesticide use either in the fields or in treated seed coatings. The farmer assured him that he had not applied any different products in the field but volunteered to inquire with his seed company representative.  Several weeks later, the farmer contacted Steve and suggested that he speak directly with the rep, who ultimately referred him to the seed company’s chemist.  The chemist was evasive, unwilling to name the chemicals in the seed coating.  As Steve pressed for answers, the chemist became increasingly resistant and informed him that the seed company could find a replacement beekeeper as they had others who would appreciate the work.  Subsequently, Steve’s pollination contract was not renewed. In 2008-2009, other commercial beekeepers were contracted to pollinate sunflowers but by 2010 sunflower seed breeding was halted in the region.  The company sold their sunflower genetics to an overseas buyer the following year. 

 

     In the United States, use of neonicotinoids is rampant and massive losses in hives and honey production have become commonplace.  Looking back on his situation, Steve wonders “Who won?  I lost a great income opportunity.  The farmer lost lucrative contracts. The seed company lost the ability to raise hybrid sunflower seeds in the region, and locals lost employment. Crop diversity in our area decreased. The pharmaceutical giant, Bayer Corporation, was the only winner as the sunflower fields were replaced with corn and soy seed, which was coated with their neonicotinoid chemicals.These kinds of costs must be tallied if we are to understand how out of balance the real ‘cost-benefit analysis’ is on neonicotinoids.”

 

     Unfortunately, Steve’s experience has become increasingly commonplace as the US continues to allow insecticides containing neonicotinoids.  Commercial beekeepers find themselves exhausted by hive loss of around 45% annually. US National Agricultural Statistics illustrate the stark reality:  a decline from nearly 6 million hives in 1947 to less than 2.5 million hives in 2008. Research continues to show a link between chemicals like neonicotinoids and bee population declines, yet beekeepers often find inadequate attention given to bee health during risk analysis of pesticides by regulatory agencies like the EPA.  Without sufficient attention to the critical importance of pollinator health, highly skilled veteran beekeepers continue to suffer preventable loss due to the use of neonicotinoids.  

References

Benjamin, A. (2012, March 29). Toxic pollen and the mad bee disease disaster | Alison Benjamin. The Guardian. Retrieved February 19, 2022, from https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2012/mar/29/toxic-pollen-mad-bee-disease

Meikle, W. G., Adamczyk, J. J., Weiss, M., Gregorc, A., Johnson, D. R., Stewart, S. D., Zawislak, J., Carroll, M. J., & Lorenz, G. M. (2016). Sublethal effects of imidacloprid on honey bee colony growth and activity at three sites in the U.S. PLOS ONE, 11(12). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0168603

Meyerhoff, A. (2008, July 30). Buzzzzz Kill. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved from https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-2008-jul-30-oe-meyerhoff30-story.html.

Upi Focus: 'Mad bee' disease probed in France Upi Science News. (1998, April 9). United Press International .

US pollinator information. US Pollinator Information | USDA REE. (n.d.). Retrieved February 19, 2022, from https://www.ree.usda.gov/pollinators

Meyerhoff, A. (2008, July 30). Buzzzzz Kill. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved from https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-2008-jul-30-oe-meyerhoff30-story.html.

vanEngelsdorp, D., Hayes, J., Underwood, R. M., & Pettis, J. (2008). A survey of honey bee colony losses in the U.S., fall 2007 to Spring 2008. PLoS ONE, 3(12). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0004071 

Published February  2022, Jennifer Bryan-Goforth, Pollinator Stewardship Council

Richard Coy

Coy's Honey Farm 

       

     In the summer of 2017, Richard  noticed disturbing  changes in his Arkansas colonies; populations  were not building at the normal level, leading to colony loss and low honey production. Recent discussions in the local farming community linked drift from the application of new dicamba products to damage in nearby crops, and he saw firsthand the damaged soybean fields with telltale symptoms of leaf cupping and stunted development.  He wondered if there could be a connection between the new dicamba products and the health of his bees. During a discussion with his wife one evening, she went online to search for dicamba effects on pollinators and suddenly the population decline in his colonies began to make sense. 

Dicamaba is a broad spectrum herbicide registered for use around the same time that Coy’s Honey Farm began.  Dicamba was designed to target and kill broadleaf annual and perennial weeds.  Absorbed by leaves, stems, and roots, it works by targeting the vascular system of a plant, causing abnormal cell growth resulting in damage and death. Historically, dicamba was shown to have a high incidence of damage to trees and off-target crops from drift  which led to low commercial use. Although other broad spectrum herbicides also cause damage from drift, dicamba has been shown to impact a significantly larger area than similar products.  (Osipitan et al., 2019) 

     In the 1990s Monsanto developed a line of glyphosate resistant “Roundup Ready” genetically modified seeds, allowing farmers to plant crops such as corn or soybeans and spray glyphosate herbicides directly onto the field, killing weeds without damaging the seeded crops.  Less than a decade later, nearly 9 out of 10 acres of all commercial soybeans were planted with glyphosate resistant seeds.  Unsurprisingly, weeds quickly responded by also becoming resistant to glyphosate which led to increased interest in developing alternative products to replace the Roundup Ready line.

     In 2016 the EPA conditionally registered three dicamba herbicide product formulations for use on genetically modified dicamba resistant soybeans (Xtend) and cotton seeds. Promoted as a replacement for the Roundup Ready product line, they became an immediate cause for concern within the farming community as fields of Xtend soybeans  and cotton treated with dicamba caused drift damage to surrounding farms planted with crops and vegetation cover other than soy and cotton. Unfortunately, this was just the first observable stage of damage. 

     Honey bees are affected by dicamba in a myriad of ways including the impact on forage. Research shows reduced forage opportunities for bees due to dicamba drift in areas with native landscapes–plants are killed, leading to a reduced diversity of plants. Dicamba drift has also been shown to delay flowering and reduce the number of flowers per plant. Combined, the reduced forage opportunities significantly impact a colony’s ability to source pollen. With insufficient pollen to feed larvae, bees struggle to create the next generation, affecting the short term health of the colony.  In the  long term, insufficient pollen collection reduces overall honey production  critical for survival of  bees during winter months.  Both short and long term impacts can lead to loss of colonies.  

     As Richard Coy began to make the connection between his colony damage and dicamba, he worked with a variety of area experts who helped verify his observations.  Accompanied by a  bee researcher from the University of Arkansas, they visited Coy’s Honey Farm sites located near fields treated with dicamba. The researcher was amazed by the lack of pollen in the hives. Later that afternoon, they compared these to other hives located at a site 50 miles away and well clear of dicamba treated crops. Those colonies were symptom free and loaded with honey.  

     In the face of the massive losses suffered by the new dicamba product’s release, Coy’s Honey Farm was forced to make major changes for the future of their bees and their business. As dicamba use increased throughout their home state of Arkansas, the area became untenable for their honey production business, ultimately forcing them to relocate to Mississippi. When asked about the cost of the move, Richard said “It was heartbreaking, I can tell you that.  All the families involved with Coy’s Honey Farm had to move and leave friends and community behind.  There just wasn’t an option to stay and go out of business.  It was very costly…financially, emotionally.  What is the value of 40 years of relationships with families and communities?” 

     Facing  income loss due to significant decrease in honey production and loss of colonies, a massive expense in relocating the business, and an uncertain future with increased use of dicamba as more farmers were forced to use Xtend soybeans in order to avoid damage to their own crops, Richard Coy determined that the only way forward was to address the cause of the problem. Hundreds of lawsuits have been filed as farmers sought compensation for harm caused by Dicamba. In 2020, Richard Coy became one of them. 

     He found representation with Richard Mays Law Firm in Little Rock, which has a substantial amount of experience in environmental law and litigation. That firm filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas against    Bayer and BASF in May, 2021,outlining 12 counts of violation and requested a jury trial.  They are asking for damages to compensate for the loss to their business and cost of relocation, and for the removal of dicamba from the market.  Bayer and BASF responded with a request to dismiss the case, and on January 21, 2022 the presiding judge ruled that with some changes, the case would continue and will include a substantive claim naming violation of the Lanham Act.  

     With an increasing number of lawsuits and favorable rulings, dicamba may not be on the market much longer. The most recent report from the EPA in December 2021 highlights damage from dicamba drift with over 3,500 reported incidents in 2021 and damage of more than one million acres of non-dicamba tolerant soybeans.( EPA, 2021) Allegations of destruction to non-agricultural plants including damage to a 160,000 acre wildlife refuge, leave the future of dicamba precarious and uncertain. Beekeepers like Richard Coy are doing crucial work to protect bee populations, one of the most critical components of our food system, in seeking to eliminate use of this dangerous product by applying pressure to chemical corporations and regulatory agencies.  

 

References 

Osipitan, O., Scott, J., & Knezevic, S. (2019, July 17).

Effects of dicamba micro-rates on yields of Non-Dicamba soybeans.

CropWatch. Retrieved January 26, 2022, from

https://cropwatch.unl.edu/2019/effects-dicamba-micro-rates-yields-non-dicamba-soybeans 

CÓRDOVA, R. A., TOMAZETTI, M., REFATTI, J. P., AGOSTINETTO, D., AVILA, L. A., &

CAMARGO, E. R. (2020). Drift distance in aircraft glyphosate application using rice plants

as indicators. Planta Daninha, 38. https://doi.org/10.1590/s0100-83582020380100048 

Environmental Protection Agency. (2021, December). EPA. Retrieved January 26, 2022,

from https://www.epa.gov/ingredients-used-pesticide-products/

dicamba-2021-report-dicamba-incidents 

Published January 2022, Jennifer Bryan-Goforth, Pollinator Stewardship Council

     From humble beginnings as a hobbyist endeavor in the 1960s, Coy’s Honey Farm has grown to a substantial commercial operation with over 10,000 hives.  A family business, most of the daily operations are currently managed by Richard Coy and his brother David who grew up working with bees at the family farm in Arkansas.  While producing honey in North Dakota and on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, a portion of their hives reside in the Mississippi Delta region, an alluvial valley that supports the largest wetland and bottomland hardwood forest area in North America. A highly sensitive and critical region, 40% of migratory birds spend at least part of their life in the Delta and the area is home to many threatened and endangered species. The months that Coy bees spend in this area are vital to the success of the colonies, as they make use of the summer and fall in an area typically abundant with flowering plants to collect pollen and produce honey.