Michigan's Managed Pollinator Protection Plan
The Importance and Value of Pollinators
Pollinators, such as honey bees, native bees, other insects, and mammals, are vital to the production of fruits, vegetables, and nuts in the United States. Honeybee pollination alone adds more than $15 billion in value to the country’s crops. Worldwide, pollinators contribute to the production of more than 35% of the world’s crops. Pollinators play a key part of agriculture and food systems sustainability in the United States and contribute greatly to the economy of the country’s agricultural sector. A strong pollinator community overall helps ensure a better environment.
The Decline of Pollinators and Its Causes in the United States
U.S. beekeepers began reporting widespread losses of the honey bee (Apis mellifera) in 2006. The Bee Informed Partnership (BIP), a collaboration group consisting of researchers and universities from all across the country, started monitoring yearly colony losses beginning in 2006. According to their results, total colony losses have been higher than the acceptable every year since 2006. In 2012, the United States Department of Agriculture issued its Report on the National Stakeholders Conference on Honey Bee Health. The report identified multiple stressors that contribute to pollinator loss, including parasites and pathogens, poor nutrition due to the loss of forage lands, and exposure to pesticides.
Communication Strategies for Reducing Pesticide Risk for Managed Pollinators in Michigan
As part of the national strategy to reduce the losses of honey bees and other pollinators, Michigan has developed a managed pollinator protection (MP3), Communication Strategies for Reducing Pesticide Risk for Managed Pollinators in Michigan. It’s designed to improve and protect the health of pollinators in Michigan by mitigating the risk of pesticide exposure, while recognizing that pesticides are important tools for crop, property, and human health protection.
In February 2016, Michigan began developing its MP3 by bringing together a diverse group of commodity partners and stakeholders.
In August-October 2016, beekeepers, beekeeping organizations, growers, private and commercial pesticide applicators, pesticide registrants, Michigan State University (including Extension), United States Department of Agriculture, and others attended listening sessions. They heard about and discussed pesticides and risks to managed pollinators, communication between beekeepers and applicators, pollinator habitat, education, regulation and management, recommendations to include in the MP3, and areas for possible research.
Listening session attendees were asked to provide their input on development of Michigan’s MP3. In addition to the seven listening sessions, targeted regional meetings, online communication/social media, and newsletters provided a variety of opportunities to for provide input.
Communication Strategies for Reducing Pesticide Risk for Managed Pollinators in Michigan is a non-regulatory document that provides guidance and flexibility to growers, pesticide users, beekeepers, and other stakeholders.
Michigan’s MP3 will be tailored to fit conditions in our state that affect pollinators and will encourage best management practices that apply to our beekeepers, growers, and pesticide applicators. There will be periodic reviews of the MP3's efficacy and an outlet to amend it as necessary.
If you have questions about Michigan’s MP3, Communication Strategies for Reducing Pesticide Risk for Managed Pollinators in Michigan, please contact us.
Our next steps are to partner with key stakeholders to:
- Develop Best Management Practices for specific crops or crop-groups or treatment types that will inform pesticide users and beekeepers about reducing risk to managed pollinators.
- Follow a 10-point action plan to provide outreach and education about reducing pesticide risk to managed pollinators, as listed in Michigan’s MP3.
Addressing the Decline of Pollinators
National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators
The Pollinator Health Task Force identified three primary goals for federal departments and agencies, in collaboration with public and private partners:
- Reduce honey bee colony losses during winter (overwintering mortality) to no more that 15% within 10 years.
- Increase the Eastern population of the monarch butterfly to 225 million butterflies occurring in an area of approximately 15 acres in its overwintering grounds in Mexico through domestic/international actions and public-private partnerships by 2020.
- Restore or enhance 7 million acres of land for pollinators over the next five years through federal actions and public-private partnerships.
EPA’s Role in the National Strategy: Risk Management Measures
In addition to its development and implementation of toxicity testing guidelines for honey bees; reevaluation of the risk, and development of a new use policies for, certain neonicotinoid pesticides; and conducting risk assessments on new active ingredients and on selected registered active ingredients; EPA will implement these risk management measures:
- Work with state and tribal partners to develop MP3s aimed at mitigating pesticide exposure.
- Improve pesticide labeling and restriction of pesticides that are acutely toxic to bees when applied to foliage.
- Reduce the exposure of bees to pesticide dusts generated during the planting of pesticide-treated seed.
- Expedite review of new Varroa mite control pesticides.
- Encourage and enhance pollinator protection and habitat activities.
- Evaluate and mitigate pesticide impacts on monarch butterflies.
Michigan’s Role in the National Strategy
Michigan followed the Final Guidance for the Development and Implementation of Managed Pollinator Protection Plans as the foundation for developing its MP3, Communication Strategies for Reducing Pesticide Risk for Managed Pollinators in Michigan. The guidance identifies critical and recommended elements:
Public stakeholder participation process, including:
Direct discussion between beekeepers, growers, pesticide applicators, and other stakeholders.
Input from a representative cross-section of stakeholders as a plan is developed and before it is finalized.
Means for growers or pesticide applicators to know if there are managed pollinators within certain distances of application sites and provide timely contact to the beekeeper prior to an application.
Recommendations on how to minimize risk of pesticides to bees, including:
Mitigating risks while managing pests.
Using a variety of best management practices.
A clear, defined plan for public outreach to stakeholders and the general public.
Mechanisms to measure the efficacy and effectiveness of the Managed Pollinator Protection Plan to reduce exposure to bees through enhanced communication and collaboration among stakeholders.
Periodic reviews no longer than three years apart with amendments submitted to EPA for acceptance.
Other Pollinator Protection Resources
Key Federal and State Agency Documents
2012: The United States Department of Agriculture issues Report on the National Stakeholders Conference on Honey Bee Health. The report identified multiple stressors that contribute to pollinator loss, including parasites and pathogens, poor nutrition due to the loss of forage lands, and exposure to pesticides.
2013: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) partners with Canada and California to develop a framework for quantifying the risk of pesticide exposure to bees.
2013: EPA develops new label language for certain neonicotinoid pesticides identified as particularly hazardous to bees.
2013: EPA announces its intention to amend the labels of pesticides that are applied to foliage and which are acutely toxic to bees upon contact.
2014: President Obama issues the Presidential Memorandum - Creating a Federal Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators. The memorandum recognized the serious, ongoing loss of honey bees and other pollinators and its potential impact on food production systems, agriculture, and the environment. It establishes the Pollinator Health Task Force, with the directive to develop a national pollinator health strategy to increase and improve pollinator habitat.
2015: EPA proposes to ban the use of pesticides, including neonicotinoids, when crops are in bloom and bees are under contract for pollination services.
2015: The State FIFRA Issues Research and Evaluation Group provides its Final Guidance for the Development and Implementation of Managed Pollinator Protection Plans to states and tribes for use in developing successful plans.
2016: EPA releases the first of four reports on neonicotinoid pesticides potentially harmful to pollinators; the first report assesses imidacloprid, and the next reports (to be released for public comment in December 2016) will assess clothianidin, thiamethoxam, and dinotefuran.