Honey Bee Health Coalition Unveils First Ever Set of Tools, Resources to Help Soybean Growers Support Pollinators, Reduce Pesticide Exposure

  Best Management Practices Include Information on Pre-planting Planning, Harvest, Use of Cover Crops

The Honey Bee Health Coalition unveiled today a series of tools and resources on best management practices for soybean growers — the first of its kind for soybeans — to support honey bee health and to help protect pollinators in and around soybean fields. An expert team of extension agents, agronomists, entomologists, beekeepers, soybean growers, and crop consultants developed the best management practices. They include strategies to identify potential impacts of soybean agricultural practices on bees at each stage of soybean production and suggest strategies to mitigate these impacts.   Pollinator habitat and the plants bees rely upon often border soy fields throughout North America. Soybeans can be an attractive source of pollen and nectar under certain circumstances.   “Honey bees and soybean farmers are both essential to modern agriculture. That’s why the United Soybean Board and the Honey Bee Health Coalition worked together to develop first-of-their-kind best management practices to improve the health of bees in and around soybean fields,” said Meagan Kaiser, a Missouri farmer and United Soybean Board leader for sustainability initiatives.   Soybeans are the second most planted crop in the United States, and with fields covering more than 80 million acres.   “These lands and the land around soybeans are vital for honey bee and other native pollinator forage,” said Chris Hiatt, vice president of the American Honey Producers Association. “These best management practices will elevate this issue and lead to better communication and in-field practices that keep bees safer. Similarly, almond best management practices have been effective at protecting bees from incidental insecticide exposure during bloom while ensuring a productive crop.”   The Coalition, a diverse group of nearly 50 organizations working to improve the health of honey bees in general and specifically around production agriculture, announced the best management practices today at the Commodity Classic tradeshow.   “The Coalition is dedicated to finding new ways to foster collaboration among farmers, beekeepers, and other stakeholders working to support pollinator health,” said Julie Shapiro, the facilitator of the Honey Bee Health Coalition and a senior policy director at the Keystone Policy Center. “These best management practices are a step in the right direction to ensuring growers have access to the best bee-friendly resources, information, and strategies possible.”   These voluntary best management practices complement information already available to growers, including mandatory pesticide label instructions and advisory warnings.   About the Honey Bee Health Coalition The Honey Bee Health Coalition brings together beekeepers, growers, researchers, government agencies, agribusinesses, conservation groups, manufacturers and brands, and other key partners to improve the health of honey bees and other pollinators. Its mission is to collaboratively implement solutions that will help to achieve a healthy population of honey bees while also supporting healthy populations of native and managed pollinators in the context of productive agricultural systems and thriving ecosystems. The Coalition is focusing on accelerating the collective impact of efforts to improve honey bee health in four key areas: forage and nutrition, hive management, crop pest management, and communications, outreach, and education.   Through its unique network of private and public sector members, the Coalition fosters new partnerships, leverages existing efforts and expertise, and promotes and implements new solutions. The Coalition brings its diverse resources to bear in promoting communication, coordination, collaboration, and investment to strategically and substantively improve honey bee health in North America. Learn more at honeybeehealthcoalition.org.   The Honey Bee Health Coalition is a project of the Keystone Policy Center, a nationally recognized nonprofit working to find collaborative, actionable solutions to public policy challenges. Keystone operates under a statement of independence to serve all of its project participants. Learn more at keystone.org.