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USDA/EPA release new report on honey bee health

Published: Thursday, May 30, 2013 4:00 p.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, June 19, 2013 8:44 a.m. CDT

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have released a comprehensive scientific report on honey bee health. The report states there are multiple factors playing a role in honey bee colony declines, including parasites and disease, genetics, poor nutrition and pesticide exposure.

"There is an important link between the health of American agriculture and the health of our honeybees for our country's long term agricultural productivity," said Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan. "The forces impacting honeybee health are complex, and USDA, our research partners, and key stakeholders will be engaged in addressing this challenge."

In October 2012, a National Stakeholders Conference on Honey Bee Health, led by federal researchers and managers, along with Pennsylvania State University, was convened to synthesize the current state of knowledge regarding the primary factors that scientists believe have the greatest impact on managed bee health.

An estimated one-third of all food and beverages are made possible by pollination, mainly by honey bees. In the United States, pollination contributes to crop production worth $20-30 billion in agricultural production annually. A decline in managed bee colonies puts great pressure on the sectors of agriculture reliant on commercial pollination services. This is evident from reports of shortages of bees available for the pollination of many crops.

To view the report, which represents the consensus of the scientific community studying honey bees, please visit: http://www.usda.gov/documents/ReportHoneyBeeHealth.pdf.

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