ST. LOUIS, June 13, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, a first-of-its-kind Honey Bee Health Summit concluded at Monsanto Company's Chesterfield Village Research Center. The three-day event hosted by Project Apis m. (PAm) and Monsanto's Honey Bee Advisory Council (HBAC) included nearly 100 members of the bee community representing academics, beekeepers, industry associations and government sectors.
Summit attendees heard from some of the nation's top apiculture researchers on the challenges facing honey bees, an important ecosystem service provider and natural pollinator.
Learning from the Honey Bee Community
"Healthy honey bees are essential for productive agriculture and the environment," said Jerry Hayes, who runs Monsanto's bee industry efforts as the Beeologics commercial lead. "As a company focused on sustainable agriculture, Monsanto has made significant investments in collaborations and R&D for the betterment of honey bee health, including the formation of Monsanto's Honey Bee Advisory Council."
Monsanto joined forces with beekeeping industry experts to form the HBAC. Through the counsel of these experts from the beekeeping industry, Monsanto has learned a great deal about the complex challenges facing beekeepers. Members of Monsanto's HBAC include:
- Diana Cox-Foster, Ph.D., professor, entomology, Penn State University
- David Mendes, commercial beekeeper and past president of American Beekeeping Federation
- Gus Rouse, honey bee queen breeder and owner of Kona Queen Hawaii, Inc.
- Larry Johnson, row crops grower and commercial beekeeper
In addition to working with the honey bee community, Monsanto, alongside other agriculture industry leaders, supports best management practices that are beneficial to honey bee health. Monsanto supports The Guide to Seed Treatment Stewardship, which the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) and CropLife America (CLA) recently released. The Guide is an industry-wide initiative that promotes the safe handling and management of treated seeds.
Forage for Pollinating Bees
Year-one results of a three-year partnership between PAm and Monsanto also were provided during the summit. The goal of the partnership is to educate and provide forage with growers and landowners in California about the value of planting honey bee forage on land they would otherwise leave unused. The selected flowering plants provide pollen diversity to keep pollinating bees strong.
Almond pollination is extremely important and it demands more colonies than any other crop. It takes approximately 800 commercial beekeepers and 1.6 million honey bee colonies to pollinate California almonds.
"To ensure strong colonies and healthy honey bees for pollination, they need access to varied forage," said Christi Heintz, executive director, PAm. "This partnership signifies a strong commitment to helping find sustainable solutions to improve bee health by providing honey bee forage," said Heintz.
130 percent of the first year's goal was achieved, yielding an area of 450 acres of forage.
Working to Control the Varroa Mite
Based largely on HBAC's counsel, Monsanto has focused its bee health research efforts on finding a way to control the Varroa mite, which is a carrier of various viruses that are harmful to honey bees. The Varroa mite is considered to be a potential leading contributor to Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).
"If beekeepers let mite pressure get out of control, it becomes an uphill battle and they usually lose," said Hayes.
Monsanto's BioDirect™ technology has the potential for sustainable benefits to beekeepers, growers and consumers in the form of biological solutions. The technology has the potential to control a problem insect on a beneficial insect without harm to the beneficial insect. BioDirect technologies may ultimately be used to identify new and additional opportunities for current herbicides, create better insect control options and offer new virus-control tools.
About Monsanto Company
Monsanto Company is a leading global provider of technology-based solutions and agricultural products that improve farm productivity and food quality. Monsanto remains focused on enabling both small-holder and large-scale farmers to produce more from their land while conserving more of our world's natural resources such as water and energy. To learn more about our business and our commitments, please visit: www.monsanto.com. Follow our business on Twitter® at www.twitter.com/MonsantoCo, on the company blog, Beyond the Rows at www.monsantoblog.com, or subscribe to our News Release RSS Feed.
Beeologics is an international firm dedicated to restoring bee health and protecting the future of insect pollination. Beeologics was founded in 2007 upon many years of research conducted by some of the world's leading scientists and became a unit of Monsanto Company in 2011. Through continuous research, scientific innovation and a focus on solutions, Beeologics is developing a line of products to specifically address the long-term well being of bees. With offices and laboratories in the United States and Israel, Beeologics brings together some of the world's most recognized scientists in its field to help achieve its mission to positively impact bee health worldwide. To learn more about Beeologics, please visit: www.beeologics.com.
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SOURCE Monsanto Company