Bee Protection Protocols for Oregon Vegetable and Clover Seed.

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2019: $349,971.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2022
Host Institution Award ID: G258-19-W7500
Grant Recipient: Oregon State University
Region: Western
State: Oregon
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Andony Melathopoulos
Oregon State University

Information Products


  • Agronomic: clovers, radish (oilseed, daikon, forage)
  • Animal Products: honey


  • Crop Production: beekeeping, pollination, pollinator health
  • Education and Training: decision support system, extension, workshop
  • Pest Management: economic threshold, field monitoring/scouting, integrated pest management, soil solarization, weed ecology
  • Production Systems: dryland farming

    Proposal abstract:

    Pests and diseases of pollinator-dependent crops can lead to damage or total crop loss, particularly if left untreated at or close to bloom. But bloom is also the time that beekeepers move honey bee colonies to pollinating these crops, leading to the prospect of the colonies being exposed to pesticides. The challenge of maintaining high crop yield without impact honey bee colony health is a challenge across the US and this prompted the Environmental Protection Agency to encourage state's to develop voluntary Managed Pollinator Protection Plans (MP3s) to better coordinate the activity of pesticide applicators and beekeepers. Although MP3s exist in most states, they can struggle to have impacts on pollinator health because they: (a) are based on best management practices (BMPs) may be too general to be meaningful to local growers and beekeepers; (b) are poorly articulated with extension activities, thereby being largely left to stakeholders to voluntarily adopt with little support; (c) lack metrics to measure progress towards reduced exposure of bees; and, (d) lack important tools that growers use to mitigate pesticide exposure around bees, particularly well-specified pesticide residual toxicity times. These shortcomings weaken the capacity of the MP3s to bring about improved bee stewardship.

    Our proposal directly addresses these challenges by developing pilot Bee Protection Protocols for two high value seed crops in Oregon. The Protocols provide crop-specific guidance on how to manage pests in ways that minimize pesticide exposure to honey bees. The Protocols will be built around new data, generated through this project, on residual toxicity of pesticides used in these crops under different environmental conditions. Moreover, the Protocols will be shored up through extensive Extension and training activities that include evaluation methods that will track knowledge and adoption of the Protocols. Finally, through surveys of commercial beekeepers in Oregon we will be able to measure the impact of the Protocols towards increasing communication with growers and crop consultants and decreasing pesticide exposure to their bees.   

    Project objectives from proposal:

    1. Residual Toxicity – Sources of Variation. We would determine the sources of variation in the current assay for residual toxicity and determine the protocol that most reflects field conditions by 2020. These results would be used by growers, crop consultants, beekeepers and regulators to identify the types of pesticides whose residual toxicity values would be vulnerable to change according to environmental conditions.  
    2. Residual Toxicity Estimates. We would establish 3h, 6h, 8h, 1d and 5d residual toxicity values for all widely used fungicide and insecticide treatments applied at bloom, as well as common tank mixes by 2021. These values would enable growers, crop consultants, beekeepers and regulators in making pesticide selections that minimize impacts to honey bees.
    3. Bee Protection Protocols. We would expand on an existing vegetable seed protocol by 2021 and create a new protocol for the Oregon clover seed industry by 2020. These Protocols would increase levels of communication among growers, crop consultants and beekeepers around pesticide use during pollination and reduce pesticide exposure of bees.  
    4. Extension and Training.  We would deliver two 60-minute face-to-face trainings on the Bee Protection Protocols to the seed growers and beekeepers, and two day-long workshops covering advanced topics in bee stewardship on farms in 2019 and 2020. We would also provide two YouTube videos and four podcasts that show case growers who have achieved excellence in stewardship by 2021. Finally, we would produce two new Extension publications, revise an existing publication and produce two infographic postcards.  This training would translate into reduced pesticide exposure of bees in vegetable and clover seed.
    5. Measuring Increased Communication and Reduced Pesticide Exposure. We would implement grower and beekeeper surveys to assess the effectiveness of the protocols to improve communication and reduce exposure.
    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.