President Obama’s Buzz to save the Honey Bees

Posted on June 29, 2014

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June 29, 2014
Article by Tina Quizon,

Honey Bees photo by Tina Quizon

Honey Bees photo by Tina Quizon

Many are swarming to understand why “the latest Buzz from President Obama”, is in fact, one of the most important initiatives for Humanity. The survival of the Honey Bees and understanding the declining population of Honey Bees and other pollinators, is vital.  Not only for the United States, but globally for our environment, food security, agriculture and enterprise.

And even though this Initiative may be for one of the smallest workers “the Honey Bees”, our Bees have no voice, no union to protect them and speak out for the rights of the workers, or to bring an understanding of their role in our environment and food production.

No one can disagree that the plight of the Honey Bee is vital to enterprise and for the worldwide economy .

The Presidential Memorandum is “Creating a Federal Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators”.

And here in Hawaii the decline and plight of the Bees is even more vital, since our Islands are so isolated, located in the middle of the Pacific ocean more than 2,000 miles away from the mainland United States. In the U.S., the bees can be brought across the mainland from state to state.

Hawaii’s population of bees has been on the decline, we have been reporting and covering the bees here in Honolulu and in particular the work of Howard Mcginnis a local beekeeper here on the Island of Oahu to save the Honey Bees and to educate the community on not spraying the Bees with pesticide when someone discovers a hive or swarm of bees. Recently we filmed a hive of Honey bees that have nestled into the rocks along the sidewalk area of Salt Lake Boulevard and Puuloa road intersection.

Watch our Pathways to Paradise TV Show “Protecting Hawaii’s Honey Bees & Wildlife” as we share insights from Howard Mcginnis a local beekeeper tips and research on the decline of the Honey Bees here in Hawaii.  At this link :

 

Protecting Hawaii's Honey Bees photo by Tina Quizon

Protecting Hawaii’s Honey Bees photo by Tina Quizon

President Obama has put together a task force to work towards solutions to help save the Honey Bees and other pollinators, “Creating a Federal Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators”, we have included the White House Fact Sheet below.

Saving the Honey Bees, President Obama's initiative is making a vital BUZZ call to help our endangered Honey Bees and Pollinators, photo by Tina Quizon

Saving the Honey Bees, President Obama’s initiative is making a vital BUZZ call to help our endangered Honey Bees and Pollinators, photo by Tina Quizon

 

Across the nation the bees need our help to survive :

Fact Sheet: The Economic Challenge Posed by Declining Pollinator Populations

Pollinators contribute substantially to the economy of the United States and are vital to keeping fruits, nuts, and vegetables in our diets. Over the past few decades, there has been a significant loss of pollinators—including honey bees, native bees, birds, bats, and butterflies—from the environment. The problem is serious and poses a significant challenge that needs to be addressed to ensure the sustainability of our food production systems, avoid additional economic impacts on the agricultural sector, and protect the health of the environment.

Economic Importance of Pollinators:

Insect pollination is integral to food security in the United States. Honey bees enable the production of at least 90 commercially grown crops in North America. Globally, 87 of the leading 115 food crops evaluated are dependent on animal pollinators, contributing 35% of global food production.

Pollinators contribute more than 24 billion dollars to the United States economy, of which honey bees account for more than 15 billion dollars through their vital role in keeping fruits, nuts, and vegetables in our diets.

Native wild pollinators, such as bumble bees and alfalfa leafcutter bees, also contribute substantially to the domestic economy. In 2009, the crop benefits from native insect pollination in the United States were valued at more than 9 billion dollars.
The Challenge of Pollinator Declines:

The number of managed honey bee colonies in the United States has declined steadily over the past 60 years, from 6 million colonies (beehives) in 1947 to 4 million in 1970, 3 million in 1990, and just 2.5 million today. Given the heavy dependence of certain crops on commercial pollination, reduced honey bee populations pose a real threat to domestic agriculture.

Some crops, such as almonds, are almost exclusively pollinated by honey bees, and many crops rely on honey bees for more than 90% of their pollination. California’s almond industry alone requires the pollination services of approximately 1.4 million beehives annually—60% of all U.S. beehives—yielding 80% of the worldwide almond production worth 4.8 billion dollars each year.

Since 2006, commercial beekeepers in the United States have seen honey bee colony loss rates increase to an average of 30% each winter, compared to historical loss rates of 10 to 15%. In 2013–14, the overwintering loss rate was 23.2%, down from 30.5% the previous year but still greater than historical averages and the self-reported acceptable winter mortality rate.

The recent increased loss of honey bee colonies is thought to be caused by a combination of stressors, including loss of natural forage and inadequate diets, mite infestations and diseases, loss of genetic diversity, and exposure to certain pesticides. Contributing to these high loss rates is a phenomenon called colony collapse disorder (CCD), in which there is a rapid, unexpected, and catastrophic loss of bees in a hive.
Beekeepers in the United States have collectively lost an estimated 10 million beehives at an approximate current value of $200 each. These high colony loss rates require beekeepers to rapidly, and at substantial expense, rebuild their colonies, placing commercial beekeeping in jeopardy as a viable industry and threatening the crops dependent on honey bee pollination. The loss rates have driven up the cost of commercial pollination: for instance, the cost of renting honey bee hives for almond pollination rose from about $50 in 2003 to $150-$175 per hive in 2009.

Some of the viral agents that are impacting honey bee colonies are also now reported to be adversely affecting native pollinators, such as bumble bees, and the pollination services they provide.

Population declines have also been observed for other contributing pollinator species, such as Monarch butterflies, which migrate from Mexico across the United States to Canada each year, returning to overwinter in the same few forests in Mexico. The Monarch butterfly migration, an iconic natural phenomenon that has an estimated economic value in the billions of dollars, sank to the lowest recorded levels this winter, with an imminent risk of failure.
Administration Actions:

In response to the challenges to commercial bee-keeping, the President’s 2015 Budget recommends approximately $50 million across multiple agencies within USDA to: enhance research at USDA and through public-private grants, strengthen pollinator habitat in core areas, double the number of acres in the Conservation Reserve Program that are dedicated to pollinator health, and increase funding for surveys to determine the impacts on pollinator losses.

Building on this budget initiative, President Obama today issued a Presidential Memorandum on Creating a Federal Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators that takes a number of important steps to tackle the problem of pollinator declines, including:

Directing the Federal Government to use its research, land management, education, and public/private partnership capacities to broadly advance honey bee and other pollinator health and habitat;

Establishing a new Pollinator Health Task Force, co-chaired by United States Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency, to develop a National Pollinator Health Strategy.

The Strategy will include:

a coordinated research action plan to understand, prevent, and recover from pollinator losses, including determining the relative impacts of habitat loss, pesticide exposure, and other stressors;

a public education plan to help individuals, businesses, and other organizations address pollinator losses;

and recommendations for increasing public-private partnerships to build on Federal efforts to protect pollinators;

Directing Task Force agencies to develop plans to enhance pollinator habitat on federal lands and facilities in order to lead by example to significantly expand the acreage and quality of pollinator habitat, consistent with agency missions and public safety; and
Directing Task Force agencies to partner with state, tribal, and local governments; farmers and ranchers; corporations and small businesses; and non-governmental organizations to protect pollinators and increase the quality and amount of available habitat and forage.
In line with these efforts, the Federal Government will also work to restore the Monarch butterfly migration using research and habitat improvements that will benefit Monarchs as well as other native pollinators and honey bees. These actions support the February 2014 Joint Statement by President Obama, Prime Minister Harper of Canada, and President Peña Nieto of Mexico to renew and expand collaboration between North American nations to conserve the Monarch butterfly.

Read more from President Obama and the White House at the link provided http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/06/20/fact-sheet-economic-challenge-posed-declining-pollinator-populations

Saving the Honey Bees, President Obama's initiative is making a vital BUZZ call to help our endangered Honey Bees and Pollinators, photo by Tina Quizon

Saving the Honey Bees, President Obama’s initiative is making a vital BUZZ call to help our endangered Honey Bees and Pollinators, photo by Tina Quizon

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