By Laura Marion
The White House unveiled its federal honeybee protection plan less than a week after the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that honeybee populations further declined by 40 percent between April 2014 and April 2015.
The agency’s National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators plan will provide funding for research and improvements to seven million acres of habitat. The EPA has proposed a rule that will establish temporary pesticide bans in some areas when bees are being used for commercial agriculture and certain crops are in bloom. The bans would apply to more than 1,000 pesticides.
Tammy Horn, the Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s state apiarist, notes that Appalachia could be a particularly important location for bee research due to the region’s biodiversity and historically lower use of agricultural pesticides compared to other parts of the country.
The environmental organization Friends of the Earth has criticized the White House plan for failing to restrict neonicotinoid use. Research has linked these widely used insecticides to the decline of certain pollinator populations such as honeybees and monarchs. The plan requires the EPA to expedite their re-evaluation of neonicotinoids.