Pollinator Protection Plan

NMBKA Pollinator Protection Plan

Introduction

The New Mexico Beekeepers Association has developed a Pollinator Protection Plan in an effort to promote communication and cooperation among beekeepers, growers, farmers, pesticide applicators and other interested parties in protecting pollinators.

The first part of this document includes information that supports our positions; the second part includes best practices and recommendations for beekeepers, landowners and pesticide applicators.

New Mexico boasts as many as 2,000 pollinator species, including 300 species of butterflies and 1,400 species of bees. Increasing habitat loss, pesticide use, diseases, invasive species, and extreme weather are all impacting New Mexico pollinators. New Mexico growers rely on both managed and feral populations of pollinators, honey bees being the most common. Over the past decade, studies have shown that pollinating insect populations are in decline. (Van Engelsdorp and Meixner 2010, Fairbrother et al. 2014). Farmers, applicators, gardeners, land stewards, and beekeepers aware of the plight of pollinators are beginning work toward collaborative solutions.

Growers and applicators face difficult decisions when managing pests and minimizing
negative impacts to pollinators. This plan demonstrates some ways they can do both.
Following the Best Management Practices (BMPs) within this document will help ensure
that pollinators are protected. Their protection is essential for abundant, affordable, safe
and nutritious food.

This Pollinator Protection Plan (PPP) does not propose restriction of the use of pesticides; rather it seeks to complement existing label and rule requirements to protect bees when pesticides are used in both agricultural and non-agricultural settings. It contains voluntary Best Management Practices (BMP) for pesticide users, landowners/growers, and beekeepers in hopes of creating the following positive outcomes:

  •  Ensuring positive relationships among beekeepers, landowners and pesticide applicators.
  •  Reducing pollinator exposure to pesticides.
  •  Ensuring a robust apiary industry, native pollinator population, and agriculture economy.
  • Continued compliance with pesticide label requirements and New Mexico rules to protect pollinators.

Localized issues may need more specific BMPs. These general guidelines are a starting point for protection of managed bee populations. Additional research and efforts are needed for wild pollinators or managed bees in an area that may be facing a unique threat.

The NMBKA Pollinator Protection Plan

This Pollinator Protection Plan does not restrict the use of pesticides. Instead, this plan is intended to complement the existing label and rule requirements to protect bees from pesticides when pesticides are used in agricultural and non- agricultural settings.

This Pollinator Protection Plan contains voluntary Best Management Practices (BMP) for pesticide users, landowners/growers, and beekeepers in hopes of creating the following positive outcomes:

  • Ensuring positive relationships and peaceful co-existence among beekeepers, landowners and pesticide applicators.
  • Reducing pollinator exposure to pesticides.
  • Ensuring a robust apiary industry, native pollinator population, and agriculture economy.
  • Continued high compliance with pesticide label requirements and state rules to protect pollinators.

It is understood that localized issues may need more specific BMPs or efforts. These general guidelines are meant to be a starting point for protection of managed bee populations. Additional research and efforts may be needed for wild pollinators or beekeepers in a specific area facing a unique threat.

The first part of this document includes information that supports our statements and positions; the second half includes best practices or recommendations for beekeepers, landowners and pesticide applicators

Pesticides

Risks to pollinators associated with pesticides can be managed through communication and education. Using pesticides wisely helps protect pollinators and reduces problems with pesticide resistance.

One class of pesticides, neonicotinoids, are particularly concerning. Neonicotinoids are a group of insecticides widely used on farms and in urban landscapes. They are absorbed by plants and can be present in pollen and nectar, making them toxic to bees and other pollinators. Research published in 2016 shows how neonicotinoids are killing bees or affecting their behaviors in sub-lethal ways that weaken honey bee colonies. Research also shows that neonicotinoids persist in plants and soil much longer than previously expected. 

In 2013, the European Commission (the European Union’s executive branch) banned the use of three neonicotinoids—imidacloprid, thiamethoxam and clothianidin—on flowering crops attractive to pollinators and on crops growing grains for cereals. In 2018, it went further and banned all outdoor uses of the trio, and in February 2020, it did not renew the approval of a fourth neonicotinoid called thiacloprid, resulting in its de facto ban.

Access to secure food systems, clean water, and healthy soils is imperative. In the absence of legislation that would restrict the use of neonicotinoids in New Mexico, NMBKA recommends following a common-sense approach to limit the use of neonicotinoids by:

    • Halting use of neonicotinoid products by backyard gardeners and other unlicensed applicators;

    • Requiring labeling of plants and plant materials that have been treated with neonicotinoids;

    • Prohibiting applications of all neonicotinoid products on bee-attractive crop plants during bloom; and

    • Continuing research on the effects of neonicotinoids on both managed bees and wild bee populations.

Challenges Faced by Beekeepers and Pesticide Users


Beekeepers - Nutrition and Pests

Nutrition has an impact on individual bee health and colony longevity. Bees generally become active in the spring with warmer weather and the flowering of plants. Ensuring nutritious forage during the active season is essential to their survival.

Honey bees rely on a wide variety of plants blooming throughout a season to provide pollen for their protein source and nectar for carbohydrates. Honey bees are generalists; i.e., they visit many blooming plants in order to obtain all of the essential amino acids and nutrients required to build and maintain a strong colony. Bees become easy targets for pests, predators and pathogens when they do not obtain the proper balance of nutrients. Bees provided with quality forage are better able to handle external stressors like pesticides and parasites.

Growers, pesticide applicators, and beekeepers can help reduce pollinators’ exposure to pesticides and improve the quality of forage. Varroa mites are considered to be the greatest in-hive threat to honey bee colonies. Pesticide exposure greatly reduces a honey bee’s ability to withstand the impacts of varroa mites, as both negatively affect a honey bee’s ability to filter out toxins and fight against viruses and other diseases. Any reduction of additional bee stressors related to pesticide exposure will greatly improve honey bee survivability.

Knowing where managed honey bee colonies are located is an important factor in the ability to avoid colony exposure to pesticides. By communicating and by discussing hive placement, applicators and beekeepers can work together to employ special practices to protect them. Limiting pesticide applications to low activity periods (e.g., spraying in evening hours) in areas where colonies are known to be present will help reduce incidences of pesticide exposure to honey bees. Notifying beekeepers when spraying is going to happen, and allowing them time to move or net hives, will also be helpful.

BeeCheck is a voluntary communication tool that enables beekeepers and pesticide applicators in New Mexico to work together to protect apiaries through a mapping program. While not a substitute for state regulatory requirements, Beecheck is a no-cost apiary registry service provided by FieldWatch, Inc. Coupled with an active public education program, the website can also be used for location of honey bee colonies in urban areas that are vulnerable to non-agricultural pesticide use.

Pesticide User Challenges

Growers and applicators encounter a number of challenges in their day-to-day operations. Growers have to manage insect pests, diseases, weeds and other factors that affect crop production. Growers have a variety of pest management tools and strategies to choose from. They often need to affordably eliminate pests and competing plants without impacting yields.

Pesticide applicators often have a limited time frame to make an application. Factors such as infestation levels, temperature, precipitation, wind, water levels, buffers, and the presence of pollinators all affect pesticide choices and decisions on when, where and how to make an application. Applicators also must pay attention to the location of sensitive sites adjacent to treatment sites, such as surface water, endangered species, organic fields, vineyards and honey bee colonies. The best time to make an application often coincides with when pollinators are most active, putting applicators in a difficult position of balancing pest management needs while protecting pollinators.

Growers also must consider the timing of pesticide applications with respect to harvest and rotational intervals. Even with integrated pest management (IPM), pests are often able to adapt quickly to different methods, rotations, or pesticides, or reproduce so quickly that they proliferate. Adaptability and quick reproduction of such pests makes timely chemical applications essential to an IPM plan.

Beekeeper Best Management Practices


Improve Pollinator Habitat

Work with Land Owners to Choose Apiary Locations

Be Aware of Neighboring Landowners when Placing and Moving Honey Bee Colonies

Work with Applicators when Notified of Upcoming Pesticide Applications

Report Possible Pesticide Related Bee Incidents

Use Registered Pesticides According to Label

Comply with all Requirements of New Mexico and local Beekeeping Law

Ensure Hives are Easily Visible to Applicators

Landowner/Grower Best Practice Management


Work with Beekeepers to Choose Apiary Locations


Communicate with Renters about Bee Issues


Communicate with Pesticide Issues


Agronomists: Consider Pollinator Impacts when Making Pesticide Recommendations


Plant Bee Forage

Pesticide Applicator Best Management Practices


Use Integrated Pest Management (IPM)


Use Registered Pesticides According to the Label


When Possible, Apply Pesticides Early in the Morning or Late Evening


Avoid Drift

Notify Beekeepers in the Area Before Pesticide Applications

Choose Products with Lower Risk to Honey Bees

Resources and References

Washington State University

New Mexico Department of Agriculture

          Pesticide Compliance

Bee Informed Partnership

           https://beeinformed.org/

Honeybee Health Coalition – Tools for Varroa Mite Management

Oregon State University – How to Reduce Bee Poisoning from Pesticides

Pollinator Partnership

           http://www.pollinator.org/

USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service 

          Insects & Pollinator

USEPA Pollinator Protection 

Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation

NMBKA v 7.21.2022