Around 120 international agricultural journalists and bloggers attended the Future of Farming Dialog 2016 media event, from 6-8 September in Monheim, Germany. The focus of the event, organized by Bayer’s Crop Science division was “Perspectives on Sustainable Agriculture”. Experts presented modern technologies used on the field, showcasing best-practice examples to increase crop efficiency while ensuring high standards for environmental safety.
“The event was a great platform for Bayer Bee Care to present the Bee Care Program and some of our partnership projects being carried out around the world,” said Gillian Mansfield from the Bee Care team who was at the media event to meet and talk with journalists who had an interest in pollinator health. “Through the Bee Care Program, the company aims to contribute to the health, wellbeing and diversity of bees and other pollinators, while optimizing agricultural productivity,” she continued. “Our Varroa exhibit as part of the new BayKomm display area enables us to raise awareness of this parasite, which is a major threat to honey bee health in North America and Europe.”
Following the main media event, 80 agricultural journalists took the chance to visit the new Bee Care apiary in Monheim, to hear more about the Bee Care Program and to visit the Bee Care Center’s own bees. Sabine Langner, from the Biologicals and Beneficials team in Pest Control Research, took them to see the beehives on site, explaining about the structure of the hive and the honey bee life-cycle. The journalists also saw the pollinator garden which offers nectar and pollen sources throughout the bee season, a water source and habitat and nesting sites for wild bees. “It’s important for visitors to understand that there are many challenges facing bee populations in the modern world. Here they can see just what it takes to manage a honey bee colony well and how we can support pollinators, even in our own gardens,” explains Coralie van Breukelen-Groeneveld, Head of the Bayer Bee Care Center.
Pollinator safety is in focus along the entire product lifecycle of a pesticide. Every crop protection product that reaches the market costs on average $286 million and takes 11 years of research and development to ensure the highest safety and efficacy standards (Phillips McDougall, March 2016). After the garden tour, Langner gave the journalists further insight into the bee tests which are carried out, including our work on honey bee larvae tests and the development of new tests for bumble bees and solitary bee species. Further safety testing is also carried out at Bayer’s Höfchen field trial station where semi-field tests form part of the pollinator safety test process, she explained.
Some 75 percent of the world’s food crops – especially fruits, vegetables and nuts – depend, at least partly, on insect pollination and Bayer is aware that sustainable agriculture needs crop protection and pollinator protection to go hand in hand, to produce more food than ever. “Since bees are an essential part of sustainable agriculture, we understand that their health and wellbeing is important,” said van Breukelen-Groeneveld.
Working with partners all over the world, Bayer is contributing to current scientific studies that lead towards a better understanding of factors affecting pollinator health in order to find ways to keep them healthy. “We hope to have given journalists a better insight into the complexities of the bee health topic and to have given a flavor of our contributions to the wellbeing of pollinators, for the sake of sustainable agriculture,” van Breukelen-Groeneveld summarized after the event.