WASHINGTON, D.C. — A beekeepers group is opposing EPA’s recent proposal to protect bees from acutely toxic pesticides, arguing the plan applies largely in situations where pesticides’ risks to bees are already mitigated by the terms of pollination contracts and fails to address risks of synergistic effects of multiple pesticides mixed in applicators’ tanks. EPA is taking comment through June 29 on its proposed plan that would prohibit foliar applications, during bloom, of acutely toxic pesticides at sites where bees have been contracted for pollination. The proposal also encourages states to craft pollinator protection plans to reduce risks to managed bees at or near other application sites, reports insideepa.com.

The May 28 proposal is an early step under a broad federal strategy released last month for implementing President Obama’s June 20, 2014, memo on improving pollinator health by restoring habitat and assessing risks to bees from pesticides and other stressors.

But a source with the Pollinator Stewardship Council (PSC) says pollination contracts already protect managed bees at sites where EPA has proposed restrictions and that the plan fails to adequately address risks to bees from synergistic effects of multiple pesticides. “There was no need to do this,” the source says, previewing arguments the beekeepers’ group will include in comments to EPA later this month. “Farmers who are hiring a beekeeper are not going to wipe out the bees.” Instead, the source argues that EPA should protect bees from mixtures in applicators’ tanks, which can include controversial neonicotinoid pesticides along with other chemicals like fungicides or herbicides, and potentially pose greater risks to pollinators through synergistic effects, even though the tank mixtures do not violate pesticide labels, reports insideepa.com.