Perhaps you like to add a few drops honey to your tea or drizzle it over yogurt for a bit of sweetness. But did you know that consuming high-quality products, like the best Manuka honey on the market, can also improve your health?
Manuka honey, produced from the nectar collected by bees from the Manuka tree, holds antibacterial properties, and as far back as 1392 has been used to help heal wounds and assist in improving overall health.
In the late 1900s, a doctor in New Zealand discovered why Manuka honey is an effective healer: Honey contains natural hydrogen peroxide. In some honey, the hydrogen peroxide is destroyed when the honey is subject to heat or light outside the hive. But it stays intact in Manuka honey, making it effective against strains of bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus, the MRSA superbug.
As you can tell, Manuka honey is not like regular honey. Therefore, when you look at a product that claims to contain Manuka honey, it's important to check for such compounds that come from the Manuka plant such as:
- Methylglyoxal (MGO): This is an antibacterial compound found in Manuka honey and is used to heal wounds, soothe sore throats, and prevent tooth decay.
- Dihydroxyacetone (DHA): This compound found in the nectar of Manuka tree flowers converts into MGO during the production of honey, but it may still be listed on Manuka honey supplements.
- Leptosperin: This compound is a naturally occurring chemical found in Manuka tree plants and is important because it is only found in Manuka honey and a few close relatives, so it's presence indicates a Manuka honey product's authenticity.
You can ensure such compounds are in the Manuka honey product you purchase if it is an authentic Manuka honey with Unique Manuka Factor Honey Association (UMF) certification. If you see a UMF stamp on a product, it means it has been produced by one of the 100+ beekeepers, producers, and exporters it licenses to indicate the strength of the hydrogen peroxide compounds.
UMF also uses grading systems to reveal the quantity of Manuka honey compounds in a product. These grading systems include the label claim that it is authentic Manuka honey. The second grade is a number that shows how much of DHA, MGO, and Leptosperin a product contains. A higher score indicates better quality. Try to choose a product with at least a score of 10, but a UMF rating of 15 or more would be even more high quality.
Also, the K Factor 16™ can tell you if a product contains a high amount of bee pollen and if it's from the Manuka plant. It indicates a pollen count of 70% or higher, purity, live enzymes, and a product containing the compound DHA.
Finally, the symbol MGO will tell you if a product contains a potent level of the compound methylglyoxal which indicates if a product has a good level of antibacterial activity. An MGO level of 400 to 550+ indicates a very high antibacterial activity.
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
We rate this Manuka Health product as the best Manuka honey on the market. This Manuka honey comes in many different levels of potency and may help support healing through its potent antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
- 100% pure New Zealand Manuka honey
- MGO 400+
- Independent quality testing in an ISO17025 accredited laboratory
- Traceable from beehive to shelf
- Raw and unpasteurized
- Only 45 calories per tablespoon
Kiva Raw Manuka honey has a high UMF and MGO level, making it full of powerful antioxidants and antibacterial compounds. In turn, this product can help boost your immune system and reduce inflammation.
- UMF 15+ certified
- MGO 514+
- Harvested from New Zealand
- Independently tested, verified, and traceable
- Raw and unpasteurized
The distinction "monofloral" is important because it indicates honey that comes from the nectar of one flower, whereas multiflora could specify that it either comes from the nectar of multiple types of flowers or is blended with other honey products. Multiflora therefore may indicate the health-benefiting Manuka compounds are less potent.
Wedderspoon's product is authentic Manuka honey made in New Zealand and is raw and unpasteurized, which preserves its antioxidant properties. The authenticity gives it an earthy, caramelized flavor that is delicious on its own or in your favorite beverage, making it one of the best Manuka honey supplements around.
- Made in New Zealand
- Non-GMO Project Verified
- K Factor 16
- Raw and unpasteurized monofloral Manuka honey
- Traceable from hive to home
- 70 calories per tablespoon
- Free of antibiotics, glyphosate, and pesticides
- SQF level 3 facility to certify safety standards
What You Need to Know to Find the Best Manuka Honey
The Manuka bush is indigenous to New Zealand, so you should look for Manuka honey from New Zealand to help ensure an authentic product. Also, it's important to choose a Manuka honey product that is raw and unpasteurized to preserve the anti-inflammatory properties and other nutrients found in the bee pollen.
Some products also come from Australia. Australian Leptospermum scoparium plants may even be more active than those in New Zealand when it comes to antimicrobial properties.
Either way, high-grade Manuka honey is available from both places if you want to take honey for its medicinal properties or use it as a sweetener.
Benefits of Manuka Honey
Manuka honey is well-known for its ability to help improve wound healing due to its antibacterial properties. Additionally, this honey can also boost the immune system due to its anti-inflammatory properties.
A 2017 study shows that Manuka honey can stop the growth of bacteria and enhance wound healing and tissue repair by boosting immune health. Manuka honey can also help those with sore throats as it can not only coat the throat and soothe it, but can also fight off inflammation and bacteria leading to a sore throat.
Cons of Manuka Honey
There are no dosing restrictions on honey bee products in general, however, any type of honey should not be used by infants or those allergic or sensitive to bee pollen. Pediatricians recommend children under 12 months of age should not be given honey because it may contain spores of bacteria that could cause botulism, which can lead to paralysis. Studies show though that for most people, Manuka honey of UMF 20+ is generally safe to consume. A UMF 10+ may be a good place to start, too.
Just like with any dietary supplement product, you should make sure that the product has undergone independent lab tests for purity and potency. If a product is independently tested, or third-party tested, you can ensure that what is on the label is what is in the product you're purchasing. An SQF certification can also indicate safety testing has been done on the product.
If you have questions about UMF certifications or the extraction process—how the Manuka flowers are processed—the brand should make this information available. You can also find kosher superfoods with light brand research.
FAQ: Best Manuka Honey
Why would you take Manuka honey?
You would use Manuka honey if you feel you are getting sick often or having trouble with wounds healing properly. You should never replace any prescribed medicines with Manuka honey, but you can use it as a supplement to your current treatments for health issues. Always be sure to talk with your healthcare provider before starting any new dietary supplement regimen.
Is it worth your money?
If Manuka honey helps reduce your sick days from work or improves your quality of life, then it's worth the money. Also, if Manuka honey helps you have a stronger immune system or better healing wounds, then the money you spend on it will be well worth feeling better inside and out.
Who is best for?Manuka honey is best for anyone who wants an extra boost in their immune health. There are many quality Manuka honey brands out there, but if you use the tips above, you can choose a high-quality product that can help you reap Manuka health benefits.
Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD is a registered dietitian, freelance writer, health editor, and founder of LighttrackNutrition.com. She has been a registered dietitian with the Commission on Dietetic Registration since 2010 and has over a decade of experience in the nutrition and dietetics industry. Staci has graduate degrees in Biology, Human Nutrition, and Nutrition and Education from New York University, the Columbia University Institute of Human Nutrition, and Teacher's College, Columbia University, respectively. She has treated thousands of patients across many wellness arenas such as weight management, fitness, long-term care, rehab, and bariatric nutrition. Also, since 2011 Staci has also been applying her health and wellness knowledge to writing and editing for such websites as CDiabetes, Anirva, and Casa de Sante, to name a few. She has also been a featured expert in such online publications as Shape.com, ThisisInsider.com, and Eat This Not That.
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The first U.S. "murder hornet" nest has been discovered and eliminated.
"Murder hornets," or Asian giant hornets as they are officially called, first emerged as a concern after four sightings of the bee-slaughtering insects were verified in Washington State in December 2019. Since then, the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) has been working to prevent the invasive species from establishing a presence in the state, and they made headway towards that goal Saturday when they removed a nest newly discovered near Blaine, Washington.
"Got 'em," the WSDA wrote in a Facebook post.
WSDA workers vacuumed the hornets out of the tree cavity where their nest was found and into canisters, The Associated Press reported. They donned protective gear thick enough to defend them against the hornets' six-millimeter long stingers. The suits also included face shields because the hornets can spit venom.
The tree will now be cut down and the nest searched for newborn hornets and to see if any queens have already left. Scientists think there may be other murder hornet nests in Washington State.
Quite a morning shooting Asian giant hornets and our WA Ag workers taking them out in Blaine. Love those sting-resi… https://t.co/uooInt70T9— Elaine Thompson /// journalism matters (@Elaine Thompson /// journalism matters)1603583575.0
Murder hornets earned their nickname because they attack in groups and can inject a victim with as much venom as a snake bite. They are native to China, Japan, Thailand, South Korea, Vietnam and other Asian countries, where they kill as many as three dozen people every year.
While that may sound like a lot, species of wasps, hornets and bees already common in the U.S. kill an average of 62 people a year, The Associated Press pointed out.
Honeybees in Japan have evolved to surround invading hornets and vibrate until they cook the intruder alive, The Guardian reported. But North American honeybees have not evolved with Asian giant hornets, so they would not have any such defense strategies. Farmers are concerned that the hornets could devastate U.S. honeybee populations if they were to spread. This would also have serious consequences for all the foods that bees pollinate.
The WSDA discovered the first U.S. Asian giant hornet nest around 4 p.m. on Oct. 22. The nest was located after the WSDA tied radio trackers to some captured hornets with dental floss, The Associated Press reported.
The rumors are true - our entomologists located the first-ever #AsianGiantHornet nest in the U.S. late yesterday. P… https://t.co/0LmpZToVHj— WA St Dept of Agr (@WA St Dept of Agr)1603464308.0
The first Asian giant hornet was trapped in the U.S. in July, the WSDA said. Since then, its entomologists have been working to locate and eliminate any nests.
- 'Murder Hornets' Spotted in U.S. for the First Time - EcoWatch ›
- What Are Asian Giant Hornets, and Are They Really Dangerous ... ›
- Murder Hornet Season Is Coming: Scientists Worried About Honey Bees Ask the Public for Help ›
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
The bright patterns and recognizable designs of Waterlust's activewear aren't just for show. In fact, they're meant to promote the conversation around sustainability and give back to the ocean science and conservation community.
Each design is paired with a research lab, nonprofit, or education organization that has high intellectual merit and the potential to move the needle in its respective field. For each product sold, Waterlust donates 10% of profits to these conservation partners.
Eye-Catching Designs Made from Recycled Plastic Bottles
waterlust.com / @abamabam
The company sells a range of eco-friendly items like leggings, rash guards, and board shorts that are made using recycled post-consumer plastic bottles. There are currently 16 causes represented by distinct marine-life patterns, from whale shark research and invasive lionfish removal to sockeye salmon monitoring and abalone restoration.
One such organization is Get Inspired, a nonprofit that specializes in ocean restoration and environmental education. Get Inspired founder, marine biologist Nancy Caruso, says supporting on-the-ground efforts is one thing that sets Waterlust apart, like their apparel line that supports Get Inspired abalone restoration programs.
"All of us [conservation partners] are doing something," Caruso said. "We're not putting up exhibits and talking about it — although that is important — we're in the field."
Waterlust not only helps its conservation partners financially so they can continue their important work. It also helps them get the word out about what they're doing, whether that's through social media spotlights, photo and video projects, or the informative note card that comes with each piece of apparel.
"They're doing their part for sure, pushing the information out across all of their channels, and I think that's what makes them so interesting," Caruso said.
And then there are the clothes, which speak for themselves.
Advocate Apparel to Start Conversations About Conservation
waterlust.com / @oceanraysphotography
Waterlust's concept of "advocate apparel" encourages people to see getting dressed every day as an opportunity to not only express their individuality and style, but also to advance the conversation around marine science. By infusing science into clothing, people can visually represent species and ecosystems in need of advocacy — something that, more often than not, leads to a teaching moment.
"When people wear Waterlust gear, it's just a matter of time before somebody asks them about the bright, funky designs," said Waterlust's CEO, Patrick Rynne. "That moment is incredibly special, because it creates an intimate opportunity for the wearer to share what they've learned with another."
The idea for the company came to Rynne when he was a Ph.D. student in marine science.
"I was surrounded by incredible people that were discovering fascinating things but noticed that often their work wasn't reaching the general public in creative and engaging ways," he said. "That seemed like a missed opportunity with big implications."
Waterlust initially focused on conventional media, like film and photography, to promote ocean science, but the team quickly realized engagement on social media didn't translate to action or even knowledge sharing offscreen.
Rynne also saw the "in one ear, out the other" issue in the classroom — if students didn't repeatedly engage with the topics they learned, they'd quickly forget them.
"We decided that if we truly wanted to achieve our goal of bringing science into people's lives and have it stick, it would need to be through a process that is frequently repeated, fun, and functional," Rynne said. "That's when we thought about clothing."
Support Marine Research and Sustainability in Style
To date, Waterlust has sold tens of thousands of pieces of apparel in over 100 countries, and the interactions its products have sparked have had clear implications for furthering science communication.
For Caruso alone, it's led to opportunities to share her abalone restoration methods with communities far and wide.
"It moves my small little world of what I'm doing here in Orange County, California, across the entire globe," she said. "That's one of the beautiful things about our partnership."
Check out all of the different eco-conscious apparel options available from Waterlust to help promote ocean conservation.
Melissa Smith is an avid writer, scuba diver, backpacker, and all-around outdoor enthusiast. She graduated from the University of Florida with degrees in journalism and sustainable studies. Before joining EcoWatch, Melissa worked as the managing editor of Scuba Diving magazine and the communications manager of The Ocean Agency, a non-profit that's featured in the Emmy award-winning documentary Chasing Coral.
Honey Bees Can’t Practice Social Distancing, So They Stay Healthy in Close Quarters by Working Together
By Rachael Bonoan and Phil Starks
As many states and cities across the U.S. struggle to control COVID-19 transmission, one challenge is curbing the spread among people living in close quarters. Social distancing can be difficult in places such as nursing homes, apartments, college dormitories and migrant worker housing.
As behavioral ecologists who have studied social interactions in honey bees, we see parallels between life in the hive and efforts to manage COVID-19 in densely populated settings. Although honey bees live in conditions that aren't conducive to social distancing, they have developed unique ways to deal with disease by collectively working to keep the colony healthy.
Life in a Crowd
Honey bees, like humans, are highly social organisms. A honey bee colony is a bustling metropolis made up of of thousands of individuals.
Three "types" of bees share space inside the colony. The queen, who is the only reproductive female, lays eggs. Drones, the male bees, leave the hive to mate with queens from other colonies. Workers – sterile females – make up the bulk of the colony and do all the nonreproductive work. They construct wax comb, collect and bring back food, tend to the young and more.
Members of a colony work so well together that the colony can be referred to as a "superorganism" – a highly connected community that functions like a single being.
Being this social comes with many benefits: Just ask any single parent how helpful it would be right now to live in a community that featured cooperative child care! But it also imposes costs – notably, the spread of disease. Inside the hive, worker bees transfer nectar to each other, essentially swapping the essential ingredient for honey. They crawl on top of each other and bump into others all the time.
What's more, humans keep many honey bee colonies next to each other for agricultural purposes. This creates unnatural, densely populated "cities" of these superorganisms, where pests and disease can spread rampantly.
Like humans, individual worker bees have immune systems that recognize invading pathogens and fight to get rid of them. However, there are some classes of pathogens that the honey bee immune system does not seem to recognize. Bees thus need a different tactic for fighting them.
For these threats, honey bees defend the colony via social immunity – a cooperative behavioral effort by many bees to protect the colony as a whole. For example, worker bees remove diseased and dead young from the colony, reducing the likelihood of transmitting infections to other bees.
Worker bees also line the hive with an antimicrobial substance called propolis, made from plant resin that they collect and mix with wax and bee enzymes. Applied to hive walls and between cracks, this "bee glue" kills various types of pathogens, including the bacterium that causes a dreaded honey bee disease called American foulbrood.
Another pathogen, the fungus Ascosphaera apis, causes a honey bee disease known as chalkbrood. Because the fungus is heat sensitive, chalkbrood usually does not affect a strong honey bee hive, which maintains its own temperature somewhere between 89.6 degrees F and 96.8 degrees F. But when a colony is small or the outside temperature is cool, as in an early New England spring, chalkbrood can become a problem.
The chalkbrood pathogen affects young honey bees, or larvae, which become infected when they are fed spores from infected food. It lies dormant in the larval gut waiting for the temperature to drop below 86 degrees F. If this happens, the pathogen grows inside the larval stomach and eventually kills the young bee, turning it into a white chalk-like mummy.
When this pathogen is detected, worker bees protect the vulnerable young by contracting their large flight muscles to generate heat. This raises the temperature in the brood comb area of the hive just enough to kill the pathogen. (Honey bees use heat for many reasons: to optimize offspring development, to fight pathogens, and even to "bake" invading hornets.)
In a recent study, we investigated how the efficiency of colony-level fever might change with colony size. At the Starks Lab Apiary, we infected colonies of various sizes with chalkbrood and tracked the response of the colonies with thermal imaging.
Larger colonies successfully generated a colony-level fever to fight the disease. Smaller colonies struggled, but individual bees in the smaller colonies worked harder to raise the temperature than those in the larger colonies. Even if they fail, the bees don't cave in to fever fatigue by abandoning the fight.
In the Hive, Public Health is for Everyone
Like honey bee colonies in agricultural fields, many humans live in extremely dense conditions, which has been especially problematic during the COVID-19 pandemic. The point of social distancing is to act as if we live in lower densities by wearing masks, keeping at least 6 feet away from others and allowing fewer people in stores.
Data from early in the pandemic show that social distancing was slowing the spread of the virus. But then humans became lockdown-fatigued. By summer, many people were no longer social distancing or wearing masks; on average, individuals were doing less to slow the spread of the virus than in April. The five-day running average of new U.S. cases rose from less than 10,000 in early May to more than 55,000 by late July.
Although honey bees cannot wear masks or socially distance, each individual worker contributes to the public health of the colony. And they all follow the same practices.
They also excel at making group decisions. For example, when it comes time to choose a new home, a worker bee who has checked out a new nest site dances to promote it to other bees. The more suitable the site, the longer and harder she will work to convince the others.
If others express agreement – via dancing, of course – the colony moves to the new nest site. If the bees do not agree, that specific dance stops, that option eventually falls out of favor, and the search continues. In this way, only a group of informed supporters can win the day.
As many commentators have observed, the strong focus on freedom and individualism in American culture has hampered the U.S. response to COVID-19. We see honey bees as a valuable counter-model, and as powerful evidence that social benefits require a community.
Phil Starks receives funding from the National Science Foundation.
Rachael Bonoan does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
Reposted with permission from The Conversation.
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According to the Daily Camera, commissioners voted 2-1 last week to approve the latest version of a transition plan that bans the cultivation of GMO corn by the end of 2019 and GMO sugar beets by the end of 2021. Neonicotinoids, which have been widely blamed for the declines of bees and other pollinators, will also be phased out within five years on county properties.
GMO corn and sugar beets are the only GMO crops grown on county-owned land, accounting for 1,200 acres, or eight percent, of Boulder County's leased open space in 2015.
The plan, however, leaves open the possibility for Boulder County to consider growing GMO crops with traits that do not rely on the use of pesticides.
Commissioner Elise Jones, who voted for the transition plan, noted that she is not concerned about the safety of GMO crops specifically but the effects of the pesticides used on some of these crops.
"Let's acknowledge: This is not an easy issue; it's not a simple one," Jones said.
But commissioner Cindy Domenico dissented, commenting that "the science on [genetically engineered] crops is not settled."
After evidence of pesticides killing off pollinators surfaced in 2016, scientists went on a quest to see if pesticides were seeping into anything else. Now, in an unprecedented study, the U.S. Geological Survey and University of Iowa reported findings of neonicotinoids—a class of pesticide used to kill off insects—in treated drinking water, marking the first time these chemicals have ever been identified.
The researchers behind the new study, published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology Letters, took samples from 48 streams that feed the Iowa River, a primary source for drinking water throughout the midwest, and found that 63 percent of the samples contained at least one neonicotinoid compound. The samples were taken shortly after corn and soy were planted in nearby fields.
Even more concerning, samples taken from local tap water and the water treatment plant at the University of Iowa showed three main neonicotinoids, proving that filtration practices are not enough to purify the drinking water. The water was collected over the course of seven weeks, but higher concentrations are likely to occur within one to three days of planting.
"Having these types of compounds present in water does have the potential to be concerning," Gregory LeFevre, a coauthor of the study told The Washington Post. "But we don't really know, at this point, what these levels might be."
There is not enough research on human health surrounding the ingestion of pesticides, especially over a prolonged period of time. But, in a 2015 study on the impacts of neonicotinoids on human health, scientists found that chronic exposure to high concentrations were not that harmful and showed weak findings. However, in smaller vertebrate animals, the effects can be severe. A 2015 study of the effects of neonicotinoids on wildlife concluded that they may cause neurological and developmental issues.
Though the study was exclusive to Iowa, it could have far-reaching effects on the entire U.S.
"Everything in the watershed is connected," LeFevre said. "This is one of many types of trace pollutants that might be present in rivers."
By Becky Striepe
Honey is not vegan, but luckily there are delicious alternatives to replace it in any recipe. Try these vegan alternatives to honey!
The honey question is surprisingly contentious in the vegan world, but honey is an animal product and definitely not vegan. Bees do not create honey for humans to eat—they create it as their own, sole food source.
As Piper Hoffman explained to Care2, bees have a central nervous system. They experience pain, just like larger animals do. "I'm going to speculate here that starving causes pain," Hoffman said, "and thanks to beekeepers, some entire hives starve to death during the winter."
There are some vegans who argue that local honey is ethical, because the methods used to take the honey are less harsh than in commercial honey operations. The local honey debate is a hot topic and I'm not here to argue about it. You do you. The resources below are for anyone looking for vegan alternatives to honey.
Vegan Alternatives to Honey
1. Agave Nectar
Agave nectar is a little bit controversial from a health perspective, but there is no question that when it comes to taste and how it behaves in recipes, it mimics honey like a dream. I think of agave nectar as a sometimes food, because it's not terribly healthy.
This apple-based vegan honey alternative is truly amazing. Creator Katie Sanchez discovered this recipe in 1999 when an apple jelly experiment went awry. The result of her testing wasn't jelly, but it was a shockingly spot-on vegan alternative to honey.
3. Maple Syrup
Maple syrup gives recipes a different flavor than honey does, but it works well in baking, sauces and most other recipes that call for honey. I even use maple syrup in place of honey in beauty recipes, like this sugar scrub.
4. Brown Rice Syrup
Brown rice syrup is available at most grocery stores. It's slightly less sweet than honey, but that can be a good thing, especially if you're trying to cut down on your sugar intake. Use it just like honey, adding a bit more to recipes, if you find the results not sweet enough for your tastes.
5. Barley Malt Syrup
Barley malt syrup has a distinct, malty taste and, like brown rice syrup, it's a bit less sweet than honey. It's a fun one to play with, though, if you can find it at the store! I especially like barley malt syrup in place of honey for things like granola, cookies or cereal bars.
6. Sorghum Syrup
Sorghum is an interesting crop. Some energy companies are looking at this heat- and drought-tolerant crop as an alternative for the corn used to make biofuels and it's also versatile in the kitchen. Sorghum syrup is available at most grocery stores and is about as sweet as honey, so you can sub it in at a one-to-one ratio.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Care2.
By Julie M. Rodriguez
It's no secret that bee populations have declined in recent years. Last year, beekeepers across the U.S. reported losing a staggering 44 percent of their colonies over the course of the winter and summer.
It's Official: First Bumble Bee Species Listed as Endangered in 'Race Against Extinction' https://t.co/7Kl4bXYqtw @xercessociety @bpncamp— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1484176512.0
The causes of bee decline vary—exposure to a variety of pesticides, fungus, parasites and rising temperatures being just some of the potential issues—but there's only one really effective way to fight back against the problem. Bees need open spaces to roam and collect pollen without being disturbed.
One city in Iowa has decided to do just that, in a major way: Cedar Rapids is planning to set aside 1,000 acres of bee-friendly open space. (Eventually, it's hoped, the project may expand to as many as 10,000 acres). This spring, they'll start by seeding a modest 188 acres with native prairie grasses and wildflowers, plants that will both nourish pollinators and prevent invasive weeds from spreading. So far, the initiative has secured $180,000 in funding from the state and the Monarch Research Project, an organization dedicated to restoring monarch butterfly populations and pollinator habitats.
Monarch Populations Plummet: 27% Decrease From Last Year https://t.co/63KULj3gUp @NWF @foodtank @SpeciesSavers @endangered @nongmoreport— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1487604237.0
Cedar Rapids isn't going to convert land used for other purposes for the project. Instead, they're simply repurposes public lands that are currently going unused, seeding them with 39 species of native wildflowers and seven species of native grass. The flowers will serve as an attractor for bees and butterflies, while the grasses will keep noxious weeds from invading the area. Some of the spaces that are being used for the initiative include far-off corners of public parks, golf courses, open areas near the local airport, sewage ditches, water retention basins and green space along roadways.
The project was proposed by Daniel Gibbons, the park superintendent of Cedar Rapids. According to Gibbons, over the past 100 years, Iowa's agriculture boom has resulted a loss of 99.9 percent of the state's native habitats. Converting these unused public areas back to their original state will do more than simply help bees—it's also going to help birds, amphibians, reptiles and mammals who rely on native vegetation.
Converting these spaces back to native prairie isn't going to be a simple process. Right now, many of them are choked with undesirable vegetation that isn't bee-friendly. The invasive plants present in these areas need to be mowed down, burned and in some cases hit with doses of herbicide before the native seed mixture can be planted.
You Can Replicate The Cedar Rapids Experiment In Your Own Backyard
Most of us don't have 1,000 acres of unused space lying around, but if you want to do your part to help bees in the same way as Cedar Rapids, there's plenty you can do. If you have a garden or a place to leave outdoor planters, just a few square feet of wildflowers native to your area can help boost local bee populations. In Popular Science, pollination ecologist Stephen Buchmann suggests planting a diverse mix of wildflowers and heirloom crops that bloom in the spring, summer and fall.
If you do plant a pollinator garden, it's best not to use any herbicides or insecticides at all, as these are known to correlate with poor health in honey bees. If you must use these products, do it at night when bees are inactive.
Of course, simply providing a food source for bees does no good if they have no place to rest at the end of the day. You can also create nesting sites for native bees, if you can stomach the idea of a hive on your property. The Xerces society has compiled a helpful guide with information on how to provide nesting sites that allow bees to thrive. In many ways, the approach you'll need to take depends on the species of bees that live in your area—some prefer to nest in hollow wood, while others dig their nests in the dirt.
If we all make a small effort to create bee-friendly spaces, it's completely possible to replicate Cedar Rapids' experiment collectively in our own communities.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Care2.
'It's Outrageous': EPA Acknowledges Proven Dangers of Bee-Killing Pesticides But Refuses to Restrict Them
Dead bees in the beehives at Ochlenberg. © Greenpeace / Mike Krishnatreya
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) acknowledged for the first time on Thursday that three of the nation's most-used neonicotinoid pesticides pose significant risks to commercial honey bees. But in a second decision, which represents a deep bow to the pesticide industry, the agency refused to restrict the use of any leading bee-killing pesticides despite broad evidence of their well-established role in alarming declines of pollinators.
The EPA analysis indicates that honey bees can be harmed by the widely-used pesticides clothianidin, thiamethoxam and dinetofuran. The agency also released an updated assessment for a fourth leading neonicotinoid—imidacloprid—showing that in addition to harms to pollinators identified last year, the pesticide can also harm aquatic insects.
Yet on the same day the EPA revealed the dangers these pesticides pose to pollinators, it reversed course and backed away from a proposed rule to place limited restrictions on use of the bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides when commercial honey bees are present in a field. Instead, the agency announced voluntary guidelines that impose no mandatory use restrictions.
"It's outrageous that on the same day the EPA acknowledged these dangerous pesticides are killing bees it also reversed course on mandating restrictions on their use," said Lori Ann Burd, director of the Center for Biological Diversity's Environmental Health program. "This is like a doctor diagnosing your illness but then deciding to withhold the medicine you need to cure it."
Greenpeace Investigation Uncovers Studies Showing Pesticides Pose Serious Harm to Honeybees https://t.co/hP04LNexG9 @OEFFA @PAN_UK— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1474578613.0
Neonicotinoids are a class of pesticides known to have both acute and chronic effects on honey bees, birds, butterflies and other pollinator species, and they are a major factor in overall pollinator declines. These systemic insecticides cause entire plants, including their pollen and nectar, to become toxic to pollinators. These chemicals are also slow to break down and they build up in soil, where they pose an especially grave threat to thousands of species of ground-nesting native bees. In November the largest and most comprehensive ever global assessment of pollinators found that 40 percent of pollinating insects are threatened with extinction, naming neonicotinoids as a significant driver of wild pollinator declines.
"The new policy does virtually nothing to protect America's thousands of declining native bee species or to curb the escalating use of these harmful neonicotinoid pesticides across hundreds of millions of acres in the United States," said Burd. "It's shocked that the EPA's response to the crisis of declining pollinators and the abundant science linking that decline to neonicotinoid insecticides is to meekly offer a policy encouraging industry to consider restricting pesticide use in limited situations where plants are blooming while commercial honey bees have been brought in to work the fields. This is a rejection of science that should be deeply troubling to all Americans as we move into a Trump administration."
Neonicotinoids have already been banned by the European Union and in 2016 they were banned on all U.S. national wildlife refuges due to their harmful impacts on wildlife, including threatened and endangered species. Canada has also proposed a ban on a neonicotinoid because of its unacceptable threats.
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) has added seven bee species to the endangered species list, a first for bees. Native to Hawaii, these yellow-faced bees are facing extinction due to habitat loss, wildfires and invasive species.
Cantankerous Yellow-faced Bee photographed in Hawai'i County, Hawaii.SteveMlodinow / Flickr
The tiny, solitary bees were once abundant in Hawaii, but surveys in the late 1990s found that many of its traditional sites had been urbanized or colonized by non-native plants. In March 2009, the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation petitioned the USFWS to list these bee species as endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.
"The USFWS decision is excellent news for these bees, but there is much work that needs to be done to ensure that Hawaii's bees thrive," wrote Matthew Shepherd, communications director for Xerces, in a blog post responding to the announcement.
Yellow-faced bees are the most important pollinators for many key trees and shrubs in Hawaii. They once populated the island from the coast up to 10,000 feet on Mauna Kea and Haleakalā. They get their name from yellow-to-white facial markings, and they are often mistaken for wasps.
According to Karl Magnacca, an entomologist with the O'ahu Army Natural Resources Program, the bees evolved in an isolated environment and were unprepared for the changes brought by humans. These included new plants, domestic animals such as cattle and goats, as well as ants and other bees that compete with the native Hawaiian bees.
One of the seven species, Hylaeus anthracites, is now found in just 15 locations on Hawaii, Maui, Kahoolawe, Molokai and Oahu. Protection of these areas could be a start to aid the bees.
"Unfortunately, the USFWS has not designated any 'critical habitat,' areas of land of particular importance for the endangered bees," wrote Shepherd.
The listing comes just a week after the USFWS proposed listing another bee, the rusty patched bumble bee, to the endangered species list. During the past 50 years, about 30 percent of beehives in the U.S. have collapsed, according to the the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
This Bumble Bee Is About to Go Extinct! https://t.co/QAfKEfFWIE @BurtsBees @vanishingbees— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1475113512.0
On Sept. 9, a new study published in the journal, Scientific Reports, found that the world's most commonly used insecticide, neonicotinoids, caused queen bees to lay fewer eggs and worker bees to be less productive. A Greenpeace investigation of internal studies conducted by chemical makers Bayer and Syngenta showed that these chemicals can harm honeybee colonies when exposed to high concentrations. In January, the EPA found that one of these neonicotinoids, imidacloprid, can be harmful to bees.
Buzz Kill: How #Pesticide Industry Blocks #Bee Protections Nationwide https://t.co/b8Vy8c5b1v @foe_us @foeeurope @food_tank @nongmoreport— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1466445533.0
The National Pesticide Information Center states unequivocally, "Imidacloprid is very toxic to honeybees and other beneficial insects." The EPA has proposed prohibiting the use of neonicotinoids in the presence of bees.
The USFWS ruling protecting Hawaii's yellow-faced bees becomes effective Oct. 31.
During the close of National Pollinator Week, the White House issued a Presidential Memorandum on pollinator health to the heads of federal agencies requiring action to “reverse pollinator losses and help restore populations to healthy levels.” The President is directing agencies to establish a Pollinator Health Task Force, and to develop a National Pollinator Health Strategy, including a Pollinator Research Action Plan. Beyond Pesticides applauds this announcement and action that recognizes and elevates the plight of pollinators in the U.S.
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock
Friday, June 20, President Barack Obama signed a Presidential Memorandum that recognizes the severe losses in the populations of the nation’s pollinators, including honey bees, wild bees, monarch butterflies and others. In accordance with these losses and acknowledging the importance pollinators have to the agricultural economy, the memorandum directs federal agencies to establish a Pollinator Health Task Force, to be chaired by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), develop a pollinator health strategy within 180 days, and support and create pollinator habitat. This federal strategy will include a pollinator research action plan, with a focus on preventing and recovering from pollinator losses, including studying how various stressors, like pesticides, pathogens and management practices contribute to pollinator losses. The task force will also engage in a public education initiative and develop public-private partnerships with various stakeholders.
“Today, President Obama set a precedent, elevating the plight of our nation’s pollinators by acknowledging not only their importance to our economy, but directing federal agencies to be leaders in finding meaningful solutions to our current pollinator crisis,” said Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides.
Federal agencies like the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and USDA have been slow to respond to pollinator losses and must take immediate action, especially on pesticides known to be toxic to bees and other pollinators.
EPA Fails to Restrict Pesticides Linked to Bee Decline
The President highlights many factors that contribute to pollinator decline; however it is the neonicotinoid class of pesticides that have been receiving the most scrutiny from beekeepers and scientists. These pesticides are not only highly toxic to bees, but studies find that even at low levels neonicotinoids impair foraging ability, navigation, learning behavior and suppress the immune system, making bees more susceptible to pathogens and disease. While EPA announced Friday that it has released two tools in an effort to protect pollinators, the availability of its new Pollinator Risk Assessment Guidance, and new Residual Time to 25 Precent Bee Mortality (RT25 Data), the agency still falls short of restricting the harmful systemic pesticides that are linked to bee decline.
The guidance will purportedly allow the agency to assess effects from systemic pesticides quantitatively on individual bees as well as on bee colonies. The agency is implementing elements of the guidance in its ongoing registration review of neonicotinoid pesticides as well as other pesticide regulatory work. The ongoing review includes new required of the registrants, including refined semi-field studies under more real-world application conditions, however the agency admits that other data from ongoing full-field studies will take up to several years to complete. Additionally, at the request of beekeepers and growers, the agency has also posted RT25 Data online, which gauges the amount of time after application that a particular pesticide product remains toxic enough under real-world conditions to kill 25 percent of bees that are exposed to residues on treated plant surfaces.
Though the science very clearly points to neonicotinoids as a main culprit behind bee-deaths, and while successful organically managed systems prove that these pesticides are not necessary, the EPA has yet to take meaningful action to reduce exposure to these harmful chemicals. According to advocates, bee deaths in Oregon last week from the use of a neonicotinoid and mounting scientific evidence require an urgent response that necessitates removing these chemicals from the market. With continued incidents like these, beekeepers and many other concerned groups and citizens continue to urge the EPA to suspend the use of neonicotinoids.
The Saving America’s Pollinators Act
As the EPA continues to stall, Beyond Pesticides, along with other groups are working to BEE Protective. Last year, Beyond Pesticides, Center for Food Safety, and others filed a lawsuit against the EPA on its continued registration of these chemicals. The groups are also working to pressure on lawmakers in Congress to take action to protect pollinators. H.R. 2692, the Saving America’s Pollinators Act (SAPA), introduced last year by Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D- OR) would suspend the use of neonicotinoid pesticides until a full review of scientific evidence and a field study demonstrates no harmful impacts to pollinators. Three new co-sponsors signed on Friday, including Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA), Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA) and Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-CA), bringing the total number of cosponsors to 68. With one in three bites of food reliant on pollinators, it is imperative that solutions be found quickly to protect bees and other pollinators. Tell your member of Congress to support SAPA!
By Laura Beans
Last week, the beekeeping industry filed legal action against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for approving a new bee-harming pesticide.
According to Beyond Pesticides, the petitioners—including the National Pollinator Defense Fund, American Honey Producers Association, National Honey Bee Advisory Board, the American Beekeeping Federation, and beekeepers Bret Adee, Jeff Anderson and Thomas R. Smith—filed the suit in the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Despite evidence about the harms of the new pesticide, and research questions left unanswered, in May, the EPA approved the full registration of sulfoxaflor. The active ingredient is similar to that of neonicotinoid; it acts on the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor in insects and causes similarly harmful impacts on bees' brains.
Comments were submitted to the EPA by concerned beekeepers and environmental advocacy groups, stating that approval of a pesticide highly toxic to bees would only exacerbate the problems faced by the honey bee industry and further decimate bee populations, which has already reported unparallelled lows across the globe.
However, according to Pesticide Action Network, the EPA dismissed these concerns outrightly and instead pointed to a need for sulfoxaflor by industry and agriculture groups to control insects resistant to pesticide technologies. The EPA is unable (or unwilling) to act decisively to protect bees, and has instead fast-tracked the new pesticide to market.
"The EPA is charged with preventing unreasonable risk to our livestock, our livelihoods and most importantly, the nation’s food supply," said Bret Adee, a beekeeper at Adee Honey Farms with operations in South Dakota and California—and a petitioner on the case. "This situation requires an immediate correction from the EPA to ensure the survival of commercial pollinators, native pollinators and the plentiful supply of seed, fruits, vegetables and nuts that pollinators make possible."
The suit is filed on the heels of several recently publicized mass bee die-offs. Last month in Oregon, 50,000 bumblebees were found dead after a cosmetic application of dinotefuran—a neonicotinoid pesticide—was applied to ornamental trees while they were in flower. In Canada last week, 37 million bees were found dead in Elmwood, Ontario. Current estimates of the number of surviving hives in the U.S. show that these colonies may not be able to meet the pollination demands of agricultural crops.
With reports to the contrary, the EPA says that none of the objections to sulfoxaflor point to any data “to support the opinion that registration of sulfoxaflor will pose a grave risks to bees,” even though the agency itself acknowledges that sulfoxaflor is highly toxic to bees. The EPA downplayed the effects of sulfoxaflor—which include behavioral and navigational abnormalities in honey bees—as “short-lived.”
The groups are being represented by the public interest law organization Earthjustice. The appeal process through the courts is the only mechanism open to challenge EPA’s decision.
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After the mass poisoning of more than 50,000 bumblebees last week in Wilsonville, OR, and other incidents now being reported in neighboring Washington County, scientists are calling on local officials to ban the cosmetic use of insecticides on city- and county-owned lands. The mass poisoning is the largest event of its kind ever documented, with an estimated impact on more than 300 wild bumblebee colonies.
According to Oregon Department of Agriculture, the poisoning occurred after an insecticide was sprayed on linden trees to control aphids, which secrete a sticky residue while feeding, making them a nuisance to parked cars. The pesticide, dinotefuran (also known as Safari), belongs to a relatively new and controversial group of chemicals called neonicotinoids. Because neonicotinoids are long-lasting in plant tissues and can be found in flower nectar and pollen, and because they have been implicated in the global decline of honey bees, there have been growing concerns about their safety for pollinators.
“The cost of losing pollinators far outweighs any value of controlling aphids on ornamental plants,” said Mace Vaughan, pollinator conservation director at the Xerces Society. “After the events of last week, and based on the overwhelming science demonstrating the harm that these products can cause, we are calling on city and county governments to immediately stop the damage.”
The University of Minnesota’s Dr. Marla Spivak, a leading global authority on bee health, echoed Vaughan’s sentiment. “The Oregon bee poisoning is a clear warning. We have to stop pesticide use in cases where human health or food security is not at risk.”
Spivak points out that neonicotinoids are now the most widely used insecticides in urban and agricultural areas. “They are long-lasting in soil and they readily move into water. If the Oregon event is an indication of what is happening more widely, we will begin to see catastrophic threats to food security and the pollination of wild plants.”
In response to these concerns, several local governments are taking action to prevent further bee deaths. One of the most startling of these efforts was the City of Wilsonville’s leadership in wrapping the insecticide-laden trees with netting last week to keep any more bees from dying. The City of Eugene had previously publicly stated that they are no longer using neonicotinoids on city properties. In May, Commissioners from Thurston County, Washington unsuccessfully petitioned their state department of agriculture (WDA) to restrict some uses of these chemicals in their county. It is unclear whether WDA is now reconsidering their earlier rejection of the Thurston County petition, which was initiated out of concerns for pollinators such as honey bees and bumble bees.
The Xerces Society applauds the actions on the part of Wilsonville and Eugene to protect bees, but says more needs to be done.
“It is time to take a stronger stance on pollinator protection. The European Union has put restrictions in place on several neonicotinoids, and Ontario, Canada has gone further and banned all pesticides for cosmetic use,” said Scott Hoffman Black, executive director of the Xerces Society. “We need a similar response here.”
Neonicotinoid insecticides, with active ingredients like imidacloprid, dinotefuran, thiamethoxam and clothianidin, can be purchased in most hardware stores and nurseries under various trade names. As scientists like Vaughan and Spivak point out, most have no warning labels to alert consumers about the potential hazard to bees, butterflies and other beneficial insects.
To help prevent future bee poisonings, the Xerces Society is calling for changes to both regulations and consumer behavior.
“In terms of what we would like to see, legislators, regulators and municipal leaders across the country should ban the use of neonicotinoids and other insecticides for cosmetic purposes,” said Black. “At a broader level, it is time for the Environmental Protection Agency to re-assess the ecological safety of neonicotinoids and immediately suspend any product registrations that were made with incomplete data.”
Jennifer Hopwood, the lead author of the Xerces Society’s report on the risks of neonicotinoids to bees says that there are also steps that individuals can take to avoid harming pollinators, like checking to see if they have neonicotinoid products in their garage or garden shed.
“Consumers should know that they can return pesticides to the store where they purchased them for safe disposal. Beyond that, when buying garden plants, people should ask the store if insecticides have been used on them," she says. "If staff can’t tell you, I would shop somewhere else.”
The Xerces Society will be following up with mayors, city councils and county commissions across the U.S. with formal letters asking them to take action.
The Xerces Society recommendations include:
- Municipalities should stop using all neonicotinoid insecticides on city- and county-owned property, including schools, parks and gardens.
- City and county governments should require that warnings be posted alongside displays of these chemicals at hardware stores and nurseries.
- Legislators, regulators and municipal leaders across the country should ban the use of neonicotinoids and other insecticides for cosmetic purposes on ornamental and landscape plants, like the ban now in force in Ontario, Canada.
- Do not buy products that contain neonicotinoids.
- Check to see if you have these products in your garage or garden shed. If so, do not use them. Make sure you dispose of them properly or take them back to the store where you bought them.
- When buying plants for your yard, ask if neonicotinoids have been used on them. If staff cannot tell you, shop somewhere else.
For Nursery and Hardware Stores
- Stores should proactively take action by pulling these toxic and poorly labeled products from their shelves.
- At a minimum, display materials should be placed at point of sale so that consumers know that these products kill bees and other beneficial insects, and that they can cause plants to produce toxic nectar and pollen months after treatment.
- Nurseries should list plants that have been treated with these chemicals.
For the Federal Government
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency should work with pesticide companies to add clear warnings to homeowners that ornamental neonicotinoid insecticides are toxic to bees and other pollinators.
For Insecticide Companies
- Companies that make homeowner pesticide products that contain neonicotinoids should add clear language to product labels highlighting that these products are highly toxic to bees and other pollinators, and that treatment to plants may result in nectar and pollen that are contaminated with the insecticide and may kill bees and other pollinators.
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