European Union considering full ban on neonicotinoids which threaten wild and managed bees

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excerpt from SCIENCE Magazine, February 28, 2018

Controversial insecticides known as neonicotinoids pose a danger to wild bees and managed honey bees, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in Parma, Italy, said in a report released today. Bayer, a maker of so-called neonics, disputed EFSA's findings. But the report is likely to give a boost to those pushing for tighter European regulation of the chemicals. 

“This report certainly strengthens the case for further restrictions on neonicotinoid use,” entomologist Dave Goulson of the University of Sussex in Brighton, U.K., said in a statement. The European Commission last year proposed—but has not yet adopted—extending a partial ban on neonics to all field crops.

Neonicotinoids are systemic pesticides. Often, they are used to coat seeds to protect them when they are planted in the ground. After the seed germinates, the pesticide spreads throughout the growing plant and guards it against nibbling insects. But the insecticide is also present in the nectar and pollen, meaning pollinators get dosed, too. Many studies have shown the chemicals affect the ability of honey bees to learn and forage..

Last year, the commission proposed extending the neonic ban to all field crops, allowing an exemption for greenhouses. It hoped for a vote in early 2018. Support was mixed: This past December, 11 EU nations endorsed the wider ban, whereas six opposed it and 11 took no stance. Many wanted to wait until EFSA chimed in. On 22 March, the commission's Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed is set to discuss the new EFSA report. No date has been scheduled for a vote on the commission's proposed expansion of the ban.  see more here....

Best Practices for Pollinators Summit - February 8, 2018 Success! 300 joined the hive.

Best Practices for Pollinators Summit

An energetic and engaged audience filled the house on February 8th at the beautiful Silverwood Great Hall for a top-notch assembly ranging from scientists to park rangers. 300 land managers, naturalists and policymakers signed up to JOIN THE HIVE uniting efforts to protect pollinators.

The annual popular summit hosted by Pollinator Friendly Alliance featured fascinating talks from practical boots on the ground to the science behind the research including:

•Xerces Society on pollinator biology and herbicide-free habitat

•Dr. Runquist of the Minnesota Zoo on pesticide drift effects on butterflies

• John Moriarty of Three Rivers Park District on long term enhancements.

•Dr. Vera Krischik & Dr. Elaine Evans, Univ of Minn. pesticides & native bees.

• Stephen Thomforde, Ecologist, on haying & roadsides. . .and much more.

The sum of the day’s expertise told us there is a world of beautifully diverse, and specialized pollinators at risk. Pollinators form the base of the food chain and are critical to our overall ecosystem health, forests, wetlands and prairies with 3600 species of native bees in the US, and 400+ in Minnesota. Not only are pollinators like the Monarch and Rusty Patch in trouble, others are too, like the humble little sweat bee who does a lion’s share of wild pollination.

Land managers from city, county, state agencies and private industry were there to learn how to help. Among 30 innovative ways include: Implement best practices and Integrated pest management plans (IPM); Install pesticide-free habitat; Carefully planned haying and species management; Introduce animals to the land and increase diversity; Convert under-utilized areas like roadsides, grass turf and old crop land to flowering native prairies or bee lawns; Create good policy and educate staff...and much more.

After a day of classes, 300 land managers are armed with innovations and environmentally sound land stewardship ideas to help protect pollinators, aquatics, birds and make a healthier world for everyone.  Summit-goers are already asking for more. Stay tuned for Summit 2019!  Thanks to the POLLINATOR CHAMPION SPONSORS...

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Announcing...3rd Annual Best Practices for Pollinators Summit

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February 8, 2018 at Silverwood Park, St. Anthony.  8:00 AM - 12:30 PM

2017 Summit was standing room only. An independent poll shows 87% of Minnesota citizens are concerned about pollinator decline, and justifiably so.  Bees and pollinators are struggling, putting natural ecosystems and agricultural systems at risk. Government needs to act now with new local, county and state land management practices and policies. The Best Practices for Pollinators Summit provides resources, background and innovation. This comprehensive summit is packed full of useful and practical knowledge.

REGISTER EARLY FOR FREE ADMISSION.

TOPICS INCLUDE   Pollinator Conservation & Ecology, Managing Landscape for Protection of Endangered Species, Pesticide Drift Effects on Butterflies, Pesticides: Herbicides, Fungicides, Insecticides, Herbicide-Free Weed Control for Habitat Establishment, Round Table Discussions: Pollinator Communities, Funding, Urban Habitat, Motivating Staff, Importance of Good Policy, Mapping for Protected Pollinator Habitat, Rethinking Roadsides, Innovative Park Management Practices for Pollinator Conservation & Plant Diversity

Presenters include:  Xerces Society | Pollinator Friendly Alliance | University of Minnesota | Three Rivers Park District | Minnesota Zoo | Dept. of Agriculture | Dept. of Transportation | Washington County Conservation District | Washington County Public Works & Parks | Rep. Rick Hansen | Board of Water & Soil Resources | Dakota County Parks | Wildflower Project .....and more.

This summit fills up, so register early.  Breakfast refreshments and certificate of completion included.   Email:  laurie@pollinatorfriendly.org with questions. 

Pollinator Park updates

Attention Pollinator Champions! Work begins on the prairie at the Stillwater Pollinator Park (523 Owens Street North, Stillwater, MN 55082) on November 6th. Turf will be removed and prairie seed goes down next week. Contact us if you would like to know more, want to sponsor, or participate. Very exciting! Thanks to Gardenside, Stillwater Water Board, and Stillwater Public Works, and the generous support of Patagonia St. Paul, and the Saint Paul Garden Club.

RUSTY PATCHED BUMBLE BEE LISTED AS ENDANGERED SPECIES

In 2013 the Xerces Society petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect the rusty patched bumble bee (Bombus affinis) as an endangered species. Today the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that it is proposing to list the rusty patched bumble bee as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act. This is a huge victory for bumble bee conservation.

The rusty patched bumble bee was once widespread, has precipitously declined from 9/10ths of its range, and has at least two threats for which existing regulatory mechanisms are inadequate to protect them, the widespread use of toxic insecticides whose toxicity to native bees were not adequately considered in the pesticide approval process and the distribution of commercial bumble bees within the range of the rusty patched bumble bee that are not required to be free of pathogens. Listing the rusty patched bumble bee under the ESA will require that its needs be considered when federal actions—like the registration of new pesticides—are taken. In addition, protecting this bee from threats of disease, pesticide, and habitat loss, may also help many of the other 3,600 species of native bees that exist on the American landscape.

READ MORE HERE from Xerces Society

MINNESOTA FIRST FOR POLLINATORS

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On August 26th, 2016, Governor Dayton made Minnesota first with the recent EXECUTIVE ORDER TO PROTECT POLLINATORS. It's great news for our pollinators and environment too. The order includes: 1) Restrictions on bee-harming neonic and systemic pesticides including agricultural use; 2) Pollinator habitat restoration; 3) Development of an inter-agency committee to improve pollinator protection. 
BUT THE POLLINATOR PROTECTION ORDER IS BEING THREATENED. Here's what you can do to help:  Call Governor Dayton 651-201-3400 and Agriculture Commissioner Frederickson 651-201-6219 and tell them "We support the pollinator executive order for more pollinator protection and less pesticide use".
READ THE ORIGINAL SCOPING DOCUMENT AND PROPOSED RESTRICTIONS HERE

“...Minnesota set the strongest rules in the nation to protect pollinators from pesticides,” said Lex Horan of Pesticide Action Network. “The plan will help ensure that bee-harming pesticides won’t be used unnecessarily,  and it lays the groundwork for reducing the use of neonicotinoid seed coatings. This decision is rooted in the resounding scientific evidence that neonicotinoids are harmful to pollinators. It’s past time for state and federal decisionmakers to take action to restrict the use of bee-harming pesticides, and today Minnesota did just that.”

Unfortunately, MDA’s restriction on neonicotinoids does not apply to all uses of the insecticides  in the state, thanks to a federal loophole that exempts seed coatings from being classified as a “pesticide application” by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In his announcement today, Governor Dayton called on the state legislature to close the loophole on seed coatings by authorizing MDA to provide much-needed oversight. Nationwide, about 94 percent of corn seed, and 33-50 percent of soybean seed, is coated with neonicotinoids before being planted. Additionally, nearly all corn and about 20% of soy seeds are treated outside Minnesota and not tracked by the MDA, furthering pollinator decline. Though corn and soy are major Minnesota crops, neonicotinoid-coated seeds grown in the state will be excluded from the state’s new policies unless the legislature takes action. In January 2016, beekeepers, farmers and advocacy groups filed a lawsuit against EPA for failing to adequately oversee the widespread use of neonicotinoid seed coatings — the most common application of these bee-harming pesticides.

New Pollinator Park in Stillwater

Self heal, BUMBLEBEE at the pollinator park

NATIVE FLOWER GARDEN & BEE LAWN:  May, 2016: Pollinator Friendly volunteers, Stillwater Water Board and Gardenside completed Phase I of the Pollinator Park by first removing the turf.

Bee lawn seeded with Self Heal (Prunella vulgaris) 3.6 oz. (7.5 Tbs)/1000 sf, White Dutch Clover (Trifolium repens) 3.2 oz. (7 Tbs)/1000 sf. After the first snow fall Nov. 2016, we overseeded the clover bee lawn with a seed mix of creeping fescues and hard fescues for diversity and resilience in the lawn. May 6, 2017 additional clover and fescue was seeded. 

Thanks to the generous support of the Saint Paul Garden Club and Patagonia, the flower garden is abound with pollinators: Wild Bergamot, Rough Blazingstar, Yellow Headed Coneflower, Joe-Pye Weed, Compass Plant, Oxe-eye, New England Aster, Fragrant Hyssop, Heartleaf Golden Alexander, Meadowrue, Butterfly Weed, Creeping Sedum.