Your Source For Beekeeping News, Information and Entertainment
Dec. 6, 2021

HBHC Crop Pest Control with Dr. Caydee Savinelli (S4, E25)

HBHC Crop Pest Control with Dr. Caydee Savinelli  (S4, E25)

Dr. Caydee Savinelli leads the task force on Minimizing Pesticide Risk For Honey Bees. Caydee is a passionate entomologist and pollinators of all kinds are a big part of her life, so she has been very instrumental in helping the HBHC develop its best...

CaydeeDr. Caydee Savinelli leads the Honey Bee Health Coalition’s task force on Minimizing Pesticide Risk For Honey Bees.

Caydee is a passionate entomologist and pollinators of all kinds are a big part of her life, so she has been very instrumental in helping the HBHC develop its best management practices for pesticide protection.

Caydee stresses that both beekeepers and farmers need to understand the risks of pesticides to honey bees and works with both pesticide manufacturers and farmers so the labels are fully understandable.

Good pollinator stewardship boils down to good communication between pesticide manufacturers, farmers, and beekeepers, knowing bee habits, understanding an awareness of local laws, and putting all of these together for a Best Management Practice so farmers and honey bees can both thrive.

In addition to Caydee, one of our regional beekeepers and Bee Culture regular contributor, Ed Colby sends us a reading from his new book, A Beekeeper's Life - Tales from the Bottom Board, available on Amazon or wherever you buy your books!

All-in-All, we have a great episode for you this week! Listen today and learn how the Honey Bee Health Coalition is working to make the world safer for honey bees and all pollinators!

Links and websites mentioned in this podcast: 

Honey Bee Obscura


This episode is brought to you by Global Patties! Global Patties is a family business that manufactures protein supplement patties for honey bees. Feeding your hives protein supplement patties will help ensure that they produce strong and health colonies by increasing brood production and overall honey flow. Global offers a variety of standard patties, as well as custom patties to meet your specific needs. Visit them today at and let them know you appreciate them sponsoring this episode! 

We welcome Betterbee as sponsor of today's episode. BetterBee’s mission is to support every beekeeper with excellent customer BetterBeeservice, continued education and quality equipment. From their colorful and informative catalog to their support of beekeeper educational activities, including this podcast series, BetterBee truly is Beekeepers Serving Beekeepers. See for yourself at

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We want to also thank 2 Million Blossoms as a sponsor of the podcast. 2 Million Blossoms is a regular newsletter and podcast focused on stories and photos of all pollinators and hosted by Dr. Kirsten Traynor.


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Podcast music: Young Presidents, "Be Strong"; Musicalman, "Epilogue". Original guitar background instrumental by Jeff Ott. Ed Colby's short, "Possums in the Outhouse", Brightside Studio

Beekeeping Today Podcast is an audio production of Growing Planet Media, LLC

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S4, E25 – HBHC Crop Pest Control with Dr. Caydee Savinelli


Jeff Ott: Welcome to Beekeeping Today Podcast presented by Bee Culture. Beekeeping Today Podcast is your source for beekeeping news, information, and entertainment. I'm Jeff Ott.

Kim Flottum: I'm Kim Flottum.

Introduction: Hey, Jeff and Kim. Today's sponsor is Global Patties. They're a family-operated business that manufactures protein supplement patties for honeybees. It's a good time to think about honeybee nutrition. Feeding your hives protein supplement patties will ensure that they produce strong and healthy colonies by increasing brood production and overall honey flow.

Now is a great time to consider what type of patty is right for your area and your honeybees. Global offers a variety of standard patties as well as custom patties to meet your needs. No matter where you are, Global is ready to serve you out of their manufacturing plants in Airdrie, Alberta, and in Butte, Montana, or from distribution depots across the continent. Visit them today at

Jeff: Thank you, Global Patties, and thank you, Sherry. Each week we get to talk about how much we appreciate our sponsor's support, and you know we'd rather get right to talking about beekeeping. However, our super nice sponsors are critical to help making all of this happen. From the hosting fees to software or hardware, microphones, recorders, they enable each episode. With that, thanks to Bee Culture Magazine for continuing their presenting sponsorship of this podcast. Bee Culture has been the magazine for American beekeeping since 1873. Subscribe to Bee Culture today.

We also want to thank 2 Million Blossoms as sponsor of this episode. 2 Million Blossoms is dedicated to protecting all pollinators. Learn more on our Season 2 Episode 9 podcast with editor Kirsten Traynor and from visiting That is with a number 2. Also, check out 2 Million Blossoms the Podcast, available from the website or from wherever you download and stream your shows. Hey, everybody, thanks for joining us. We are really, really happy you're here. It's almost Christmas time. Hey, Kim, how are you doing?

Kim: Doing okay. It's still, I say this carefully, summer here.

Jeff: Wow.

Kim: 30s and 20s at night, but 40s, sometimes 50s during the day. This is not a bad way to spend December.

Jeff: That sounds like a typical December in the Pacific Northwest, other than the amount of rain we've been getting. I can't believe it's December already.

Kim: Yes, it is. [chuckles]

Jeff: Speaking of December and the approaching holidays, did you get my Christmas wishlist?

Kim: I missed that somewhere. [laughs]

Jeff: Everyone tells me that. I got to check my email program. Everyone tells me they haven't seen it.

Kim: I haven't seen it, Jeff, I'm sorry. Try it again. Maybe I'll look this time.

Jeff: [laughs] Check your spam folder, it might be there. Coming up, we have a special visit from Ed Colby.

Kim: You know what Ed did working with the people at Northern Bee Books? Ed has been writing for Bee Culture Magazine for, I don't know, 10, 12 years. He started when I was there, and I convinced him to keep going. What he's done is he's gone back over 10 or 12 years and he's looked at all of the columns that he wrote, and he has now recorded them. Not only that, but Northern Bee Books put them in a book, so you can get all of the whole collection. He's recorded the ones he likes the best, and as I understand it, you got one of those today.

Jeff: Yes, I do, directly from the western slope of Colorado. Let's listen to Ed Colby.


Ed Colby: My sidekick Marilyn's niece, ended her career as an extreme skier when she broke both legs jumping off a cliff at a Snowmass competition. We attended her May wedding near Taos, New Mexico. Paulina married, of course, a kayaker and Telluride Ski Patrol. Her father rowed her to the ceremony on the banks of the Rio Grande in a dory The so-called preacher was a Grand Canyon River guide. The guests, mainly professional skiers and boaters. There were sunburned, sandaled women there you wouldn't want to have to arm-wrestle. Everything was laid back and behind schedule.

I didn't tell any of my own Grand Canyon stories, like twice flipping my own rafting House Rock wrapping with different wives, but you're not going to impress the pros with that story. Before we slipped away under cover of darkness, a dazzling bride confided, "We've got 10 acres down by Sawpit. I'd like to get some bees." Those who've sucked life's marrow and now yearn to become wise, bees are the new frontier. Today, nothing is more intriguing, more green, more hip than keeping bees. It wasn't always so. When I started 20 years ago, it merely confirmed what some friends already suspected, that I was nuts.

We've just gotten back from Taos, and already Marilyn was muttering that our getaway was too short. It was three days. Didn't I tore her on the dance floor and take her to those hot springs by the Rio Grande she'd been dreaming about? What did she expect in the merry month of May when the bees run me ragged? A week after we got home, she announced, "I have to go to Telluride Mount and film, today" Have to go? Today? This was the first I'd heard. I watched her roll down the driveway in her '99 Saturn with three okay tires and one nearly bald. "Can you change a flat?" I queried. "I've got Triple-A," she called out cheerily waving out the window. "Keep it under 45," I shouted. She'll be back, I mused, with the stories.

This left me home with our Blue Heeler dog Pepper and lots to do. I put him in the cab of my pickup and loaded a nuke in the back. All of a sudden, Pepper yelped and came flying out the window, madly snapping at a bee. I thought, "This is crazy. Why torment the dear boy? Better to leave him home even if he wants to come along because he hates honeybees and they hate him back." I headed for the Silt Mason yard. I brought empty honey supers thinking the little darlings might be on a honey flow, but the dandelions had come and gone to seed heads, and these bees made not a dollop of honey. Now they were starving. Blame stormy weather or an inattentive beekeeper.

I had six frames of honey in the truck, so I parceled them out and headed home for more. When I arrived, I was greeted by a very strange dog. He looked a lot like Pepper, but his face was bloated like some Pitbull mongrel. He had a wag in his tail. I reached for his throat, and it felt like it might be swollen too, so I couldn't be sure. His lips felt like big, fat, rubbery pancakes. I called the vet, but she'd taken off for the Memorial Day weekend. I keep my own allergic reaction EpiPen and I got it out. Then I decided not to panic. It had been a couple of hours since poor Pepper got stung, and the danger of anaphylaxis should have passed.

Pepper and I went outside and he started harassing the geese. This was a good sign. I called my neighbor, Howard, and said, "You need to take a picture of this." Pepper growled and snapped at Howard's Australian shepherd. I think Pepper is going to be all right. Another hour went by. It was getting late. I put Pepper back in the house and ran back to Silt Mason to feed the bees. "He'll be fine," I kept telling myself, and of course he was. He still had the Pitbull look the next day, but by the morning after he looked like Pepper again. Pepper still loves the truck, even though that's where this all started, but he stays away from my bees. He just hates them.

Jeff: Oh, poor Pepper.

Kim, Ed sure does a great job with those.

Kim: His column sounds like it reads. He goes in one direction and then does an about face or an abrupt right turn and talks about something else. That's one of the things that's made him popular because you're never sure what's going to come up next, and people like his style.

Jeff: Don't know where he's gone and where he'll end up, but it's going to be a fun journey.

Kim: Yes, exactly.

Jeff: Thanks a lot, Ed, we appreciate that. Keep them coming, we like them.

Kim: Yes.

Jeff: Folks, if you like what you hear on the show today, make sure you go at the top of the screen of our website and/or your favorite web app and click on the Subscribe or Follow, whichever is presented there. Make sure you don't miss a single episode of Beekeeping Today Podcast.

Kim: Do you know what else, Jeff?

Jeff: What's that?

Kim: People that are listening to this today, what do we know that somebody else should know that should be listening to this? If you're listening to this today and you know somebody that should be listening to what we're talking about, share this podcast. There's a button. Share and send the link to a friend of yours or somebody you know that needs to know about what we're talking about today. Jeff, the Honey Bee Health Coalition, that needs to know about the Honey Bee Health Coalition, more about it or something about it, or at least become somewhat familiar with it. Share our podcast.

Jeff: This is a great time of year to help with folks because they're starting to think about coming into beekeeping in this coming spring, they may be receiving-- Their Christmas list may include beehives or a nuke, or a package, or something. This is a great time to start sharing-

Kim: Yes. Exactly.

Jeff: -good sources of information. Hey, you mentioned, quick segue way fr today's show. We have Caydee Savinelli from the Honey Bee Health Coalition, wrapping up our extended four-part series of programs about the coalition. We started back in March, that was way back in March with the Senior Project Director, Matt Mulica.

Kim: Matt was good. He gave a good overview of how Honey Bee Health Coalition works, how it got started, and where the money came from, and you put a whole bunch of strangers in a room. It was pretty tense to begin with, but then after a while, they got to working together and things began to happen. Everybody began to see the value of having something like the Honey Bee Health Coalition. The next show we did was with Dewey Caron and Mary Reed, the State Inspector from Texas. Dewey is always good and Mary was excellent on that show. Then along came Pete Berthelsen talking about habitat. If there's anybody that knows anything about habitat for bees is Pete because he knows habitat for almost everything that lives.

Jeff: That's a great show.

Kim: This was a good series, and I hope folks go back and listen to all four of them, say in a row if you can, because you get the big picture.

Jeff: You can go out and search for those on the show on our website or in your app of choice, or they're in the links in the show notes below. Coming up today's Caydee Savinelli.

Kim: Caydee, she's going to talk about honey bee health relative to crop protection, and you know what that means. There's two elephants in the room when it comes to honey bee health. One of them's raw and the other one is the things that farmers have to do to protect their crops that bees sometimes don't deal well with.

Jeff: It's a sensitive subject for many beekeepers. It's very important, it's part of reality. I think it's really great that we have fantastic researchers such as Caydee working on protecting our pollinators.

Kim: They've already solved. They've already put together some solutions to this that farmers are being able to use, the beekeepers are being able to use and it's benefiting both of them.

Jeff: Sounds good. Well, let's get right into that talk with Caydee, but first, a quick word from our great friends at Strong Microbials.


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Jeff: Hey, everybody. Welcome back and while you're at the strong microbial site, make sure you click on and subscribe to the Hive, the regular newsletter full of interesting beekeeping facts and product updates. Hey, sitting across the virtual Zoom table right now is Caydee Savinelli from Syngenta. She is the US Stewardship Team and Pollinator Lead. She's here representing the fourth part of our Honey Bee Health Coalition series and talking about crop pest management. Welcome to Beekeeping Today, Caydee.

Caydee Savinelli: Well, thank you for inviting me. I was thinking about and I looked at all the other guests you've had in the past, and definitely, a lot of the guests are really closely tied to beekeeping. I'm less tied to beekeeping. I do consider myself to be a beekeeper, but not a honey beekeeper because I put out a lot of Mason beehives and things like that. I also wanted to share with the audience. I've been an anthropologist since 1977, so over 40 years. I actually really, really like insects, including bees. They're completely fascinating to me. I also want to mention that one of the reasons I got into entomology was, I really think it's important that agriculture is part of our DNA, so to speak. I wanted to have that nexus between agriculture and controlling insect-pest will harm crops. For the rest of all the other insects, I want to keep them as healthy as possible. That's really where I'm coming from.

Jeff: Oh, very good. We're all pollinator-friendly here on the Beekeeping Today Podcast. That's fine. You don't have to be a beekeeper to be on the show. Welcome. [laughs]

Kim: Well, Caydee, it's nice to meet you and to finish off this part with the Honey Bee Health Coalition, I'll say I've been waiting to finish this, not because I want to be done with it, but I've been waiting to listen to your part of this. The Honey Bee Health Coalition's doing what I consider to be a stunningly excellent job at doing what they do and keeping beekeepers informed. This is just another good part of what they do. I'm glad you could join us today.

Caydee: Thank you. It's good to meet you as well. Certainly, I've been a member of the Honey Bee Health Coalition since the very beginning, since it was first initiated. As you mentioned, I come in with a slightly different view because I come in from the crop protection and crop pest management side, but I think we need to have conversations on both sides, the beekeepers as well as the agriculture people. I think it's been a really good opportunity to really share views and have some interesting discussions. Sometimes we don't always agree, but I think that's part of learning.

Jeff: Absolutely. Well, let's step back and take a quick look at the Honey Bee Health Coalition, their main programs within for crop protection. Maybe you can talk on each one down the road here, but they have the Managed Pollinator Protection Plans and the best practices for pesticide for growers and beekeepers. Also, they've developed an incident reporting system. Those are a couple of the big three areas of the Honey Bee Health Coalition's programs. Let's start with how are the pesticides and practices changed over the years for growers and beekeepers?

Caydee: Do you want me to-- I was thinking about talking specifically about each program that [crosstalk]?

Jeff: Certainly, that'd be great.

Cayden: The MP3, the Managed Pollinator Protection Plans are actually developed by the state. Each state was given the task from EPA to come up with their own plan. The plan really is about how do beekeepers and farmers, and even homeowners in some states, how do they communicate with one another and really understand where the bees are as well as the pesticide practices, so that's really a state-run program. The Honey Bee Health Coalition has been involved as far as some of the earlier conversations around that. That's one that they don't necessarily own, but they're certainly part of that.

The best management practices, this is where I really have had an active role in the best management practices. The thought around this is how do you have farmers use pesticides, but at the same time not cause harm to bees. Now, for some listeners are probably thinking, how is that possible? Because we know pesticides and I'm speaking about insecticides right now, they're designed to harm insects. That's really how they are. We believe, and this is a Syngenta view, that if you use the insecticides according to the label because the labels are designed to say, "Okay. We're going to not use them during the time when the pollinators are active."

For instance, a lot of the foliar applications we say, "Don't use when the bees are actively foraging. We'll even have on our labels that says "Don't spray them at all during flowering." We avoid that time when the bees are out. These best management practices are-- Certainly there's a lot of information on the label and we hope everyone reads the label. What the Honey Bee Health Coalition has done is saying, "Okay. Let's look at a number of different crops and let's look at each crop during certain times of the growing season, as well as what the bees are doing relative to that crop," and in some cases, like in the case of canola. Canola is a very important crop for bees and especially honey bees. When you talk about corn, not so much, however, there are some concerns with corn during planting season, with the potential dust to migrate over to where the bees are. We're looking at each crop a little bit differently depending on how it's used, which products are used, and then what are some of the best ways to mitigate any potential problems. I can get into a lot more details if you want me to. I can talk about some other programs, but that's the overall view. I'm going to go back to the incident reporting and then we can get into more questions.

The incident reporting is actually something that both the states have incident reporting. If there is a bee kill, they have to go to the state, usually, it's the state Department of Agriculture, and it may depend on the state too, but they have to report it to the state. I live in North Carolina and I'm really lucky to live in North Carolina because we have a very strong apiary inspector program who also will go out and inspect if there's any problems. A lot of times it could be either the bees aren't being fed properly or there's diseases. It's not always pesticides, but they will go out and they know how to sample and really look at that. The incident reporting that the Honeybee Health Coalition is really trying to say, "Okay, beekeepers, if you do have an incident, here's the simple way to report it so that the information does get collected."

As a registrar, we call ourselves registrars, we think that's very important because if there are bee kills or potential bee kills, we want to know about it too because if we have to make adjustments on the label, we can do that but if we don't have the information, we're sort of living in a vacuum. I think it's really important to really, for the beekeepers to report any incidents, but also to work through their state apiary inspectors if they have them because they're really the first line of defense as well as the experts.

Kim: Well, I can see where the beekeeper would be-- What's the word I want? The role of state inspectors is the biggest variable you have there because some states have none, some states have just very, I'm not going to say inactive, but there's one inspector for the whole state so they're stretched a mile thin. I can see where that role might not work well everywhere. If that's the case, if I don't have the state inspector or one who can come and look, what happens then?

Caydee: This is part of that incident reporting. You can also report to the EPA. Now you're going to a much higher level, but the EPA will actually gather all of the information and it's anonymous, but they also use that. For instance, if we go through reregistration, they'll look at all of these reports and they call them 682s but they're basically it's a use that happened, but you had an adverse effect. They'll look at that as well, but I think that's also important, but typically if you have a state apiarist it's best to go through them because they're really the experts.

Kim: Well, I can see that from a beekeeper's perspective, an incident report is something you really want to pursue because once you have an incident, then it can be examined and the situation that led up to it can be reversed or at least reduced. From a beekeeper's perspective, these would be really important.

Caydee: The timing is critical because if there is an incident and a lot of times they will take samples and send them off to official labs to have them sampled to see what the bee ingested but if you wait a few days, then you've lost precious times. The timing's really critical. Some will even freeze the bees. In other words, they take them and collect them. The timing's really critical. Then the other thing, and I know in talking to beekeepers and everything is you go into these big agricultural areas where you may be-- and I'll use almonds as an example and this is in California. I think the almond growers have done an amazing job in ensuring that products are used so that they're not harming bees.

In other words, even if there's a night application, but if it has toxicity that allows them to use it but otherwise like I said, our products, we say don't spray them. Anyway, the bottom line is if you're in a big agricultural situation, you may have something that happens in a field, I don't know a mile away or something, and so it's not really in that place where the honeybees are. It could be further away because they might be foraging somewhere else. That's where it gets a little tricky, is trying to understand the source of the pesticide poisoning.


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Jeff: Well, before we get much further go into the next question, can you restate for us what is a neonic and what is the neonic problem? What's the issue at hand?

Caydee: Neonic is an insecticide and when the neonics were registered, some of the benefits of the neonics is that they're generally less harmful to workers. In other words, from a human exposure, less of a problem. At the same time, they are insecticides so they are highly toxic to bees and so that's definitely a concern. I also want to state that the neonics tend to be very specific in what they control. What I mean by that is when you look at some of the older chemistry, they're more broad spectrum. In other words, they control lots of different taxa. Whereas the neonics are really good on what we call sucking insects so things like aphids, things like Colorado potato beetles, which are more chewing insects, but they're not very active on, let's say lepidopterans which are butterflies and that type of thing, but they are highly toxic to bees. That's why we have very specific language.

I think part of what's considered to be the problem is because they're so toxic to bees, then in some cases, we're accused of killing all the bees. I don't think that's the case. It's just a misunderstanding of the product and I want to remind everybody insecticides are designed to kill insects, but in the case of neonics, because they're selective, things like ladybugs, they don't harm. There's this bug called the big-eyed bug, which is a really good predator, they're not harmed. In other words, they're actually softer on a lot of what we call all beneficial insects than some other products.

There's good and bad, but I think sometimes the bad gets emphasized without considering how they're good. We did a pretty extensive study a few years ago, we hired a ag informatics, which was a group of university people. One of the questions was what would the world look like if neonics were no longer available? If you think about it, a lot of people think, well, if you don't use neonics then you don't-- it's not really controlling insects, but Europe is a good place where they-- I don't want to say they ban, but they're not using neonics and after one year they started having some insect problems that they didn't have and then they are spraying more. Assuming that the insect problems are not going to go away in agriculture, you then start replacing neonics with older chemistry and you also actually add more pounds of active ingredients to the environment.

There's always this balance between what we're trying to control versus what we're trying to benefit. I think sometimes we lose sight of that and everyone thinks just get rid of a certain class of insecticides and everything will go back. I don't think it's that way at all.

Kim: Well, good.

Caydee: I'm serious about this because I've studied it and everything, and I don't want to harm insects unduly. Can I just share a personal story?

Jeff: Certainly.

Caydee: One of the other reasons why I got into agriculture was my grandfather who emigrated from Italy. My grandfather was Italian, but he became an American citizen and his dream was to have an orange grove. He had an orange grove in Florida. I went down there as a child and I was just completely enamored with everything about agriculture and seeing all these things. Back in the day when my grandfather had his orange grove, they really didn't have that many pests. When they were controlling insects or mites or whatever scales, they pretty much used oil. Most people would think oil they think their oil's not bad, but oil's actually it's pretty broad spectrum but I mean, that was really what they were using and they weren't using a lot. But we had the Asian citrus psyllid come in and that insect by itself is not that bad. However, it does transmit a disease.

The problem with the disease is once it gets inside the tree, it basically shortens the life of the citrus tree and so instead of getting 50 or 75 years of a citrus tree, now you're 15. The citrus growers are having to replant trees more often and spray a lot more than they did. That's been, to me, a real tragedy with some of these invasive pests and we lose sight of that sometimes. These new pests come in, they take over, and the farmers are really left with very few tools that they can use to really control them. In some cases, they're really trying hard to just sustain business.

Jeff: Regarding the pesticide poisoning, one of the things that's often mentioned to us by guests are the synergistic effects of the pesticide with a surfactant or anything else that's mixed in the tank. Is there any research that's starting? I know the variables would be unmeasurable, but is there any research that is centering on any of the synergistic effects?

Caydee: Yes. I'm smiling because I'm thinking how granular do you want me to be? I'm going to try to be simple. Let me just explain a couple of things. I hope it makes sense. If it doesn't, you can cut this part out. A lot of times, bees are like all organisms. They have these genes that allow them to break down toxins. It's not just toxins from pesticides, it's other toxins. A lot of people think that bees don't have these, they call them cytochrome P450s. They don't believe they have them, but they actually do so.

I'll give you the real examples because this was documented. In some cases, there are examples where if you have let's say triazole fungicide and a pyrethroid insecticide, but remember they have to be in the tank together. You can't spray one one week and something two weeks later, because to me that's not the same because they're separated. That has been documented to have synergy.

Yes, there is synergy in that case. Sometimes people will take the word synergy and maybe overuse it. I'm saying this with conviction and the reason why I'm saying this is that Syngenta is working with a university cooperator who went through all of the papers that were claiming synergy. What they found was it was pyrethroids and triazoles, which we already knew. A lot of times they say, well, it's this and that and something else. More often than not, it's not. It's really how they do the study, the number of treatments that they do, how they measure it.

This is really a fine work.

My favorite study came out of North Carolina State University where they were actually looking at some-- There's some synergists, there's some products that actually will be added to, let's say pyrethroid to make them more active. They're taking known synergists and adding them and in the lab, they actually saw synergy, but when they took it to the field, they weren't seeing that. The other thing that I'm always careful when I look at studies, I say, okay, is it lab study? Is it field study? Is it complimentary work? Because otherwise, sometimes the lab study is a worst-case, or maybe the exposure is too high. Synergy is definitely something out there, but sometimes everyone thinks everything's synergistic and it's not the case.

Jeff: It's a catchword.

Caydee: It's a catchword. We have mixtures and sometimes people think synergy, but synergy is one plus one equals three or four. It's not one plus one equals two. That's additive. That's different than synergy. There will be a paper published maybe this year, maybe early next year, that really delves into that. The person that we hired to do the work, we provided him the studies, he looked at all the work and he came up with his conclusions. We weren't monitoring what he was doing other than when he was writing the paper. He'll have a paper published later on, maybe late this year, I think he submitted it. That'll help.

You also had a question about adjuvants. Not all adjuvants are the same. I know that they've said the silicone, I think the silicon dioxide has some effects and there have been some proven studies with that. Just because someone's putting an adjuvant doesn't mean it automatically creates synergy. A lot of times when they use adjuvants, and we don't use as many adjuvants with insecticides per se, because when we develop formulations, they're formulated in such a way so that for us, it's about covering the plant surface, if it's necessary, maybe help to penetrate.

Really those are things that are unique to the formulation. Sometimes we'll add some of these adjuvants, or we can't formulate, and so we do that. I know that there's going to be a lot more talk about adjuvants. I just saw something the other day, someone saying they're not regulated, but I also think it goes back to some of those lab studies when people looked at adjuvants and they haven't necessarily had the same rate that they would use in the tank. A lot of times they use adjuvants for drift management too. To me, drift management is really important because you want to keep the product on the field.

Kim: One of the things that Coalition is doing is producing best management practices for both beekeepers and applicators. According to your webpage, I see you've got soy, corn, and canola best management practices. You're about ready to release one for apples, I hope by next spring. If I wanted one of those, where can I get it? If I wanted one of those best management practices, I can go to my grower, or a grower can go to a beekeeper and say, "Here's what the Honey Bee Health Coalition is recommending."

Caydee: You go to the Honey Bee Health Coalition website, and there's downloadable resources, and they have those best management practices. My only watch out, there was one, I was looking at it yesterday, there was a presentation that summarizes it, but some of these best management practices are about 26 pages or 20 plus pages. Sometimes you need to have a little simpler for some people because they don't necessarily want to read all 20 pages.

The one thing I want to just bring up, and I'm going to be selfless promoting, but Syngenta along with the other registrants and it goes beyond neonics, we've come up with a pollinator stewardship. It's a five-fold. It has some really common practices. In other words, and I'll just name them. Sometimes if you just start off with the simple area first and then let people delve into. Some of the things that we say and this goes across Honey Bee Health Coalition is, first of all, read the label.

Read the label is really important. There's really good information. I used to write labels in my previous job. That's number one. Also, know the toxicity of the product. If you have a insecticide that's highly toxic to bees, you will have label languages say, "Don't spray during flowering." That's understand the toxicity. It's also understanding bee habits because has been put in a lot of different literature, honeybees are only out during certain parts of the day. Later in the day, when it starts getting darker, some people are spraying then, some people are spraying earlier in the morning when the honeybees are less active. That's important, communicating with your beekeepers.

A lot of the farmers that I work with, they work with the beekeepers. They know the beekeepers in their area, and they'll even say, "Okay, if you're going to put the hives on my farm, please put it behind these trees because that's like a windbreak. Therefore, you won't have the drift." That's also really important, is communicating. Then also know some of the local laws, because sometimes some states and even some counties have some differences. I'm just trying to think. As I mentioned before, drift management's very important.

Then also seed treatment. To me, seed treatment is one area and this is neonics seed treatments. Syngenta and the other registrants have been working with this Growing Matters Coalition. The Growing Matters Coalition has been promoted by Honey Bee Health Coalition.

We have what we call the BeSure! with the exclamation mark every year. Our whole idea is that we have different blurbs, social media, PSAs, interviews, et cetera. We're trying to really remind farmers during planting season, be really careful about dust, and then during application, foliar applications, think about drift. The dust part is important because farmers can use different types of equipment that pushes the dust into the ground, and it's the dust that comes off the planter as well as using some different lubricants. For us, dust mitigation is very important.

Kim: Quick question. On crops, you mentioned apples and soybeans, corn. I'm going to bet that that corn is aimed more at sweetcorn as a commercial crop than field corn?

Caydee: It's actually both. It is actually for both in these particular recommendations. I think it's the dust. Let me just bring up what I think is an important point. Your listeners need to understand this is that, I've been working on, I've been doing this for a long time. A long time. I know when we were starting to really think more about honeybees because the studies we used to do on honeybees is really on the adults. We knew the adult activity. Now, we do larval studies and that type of thing. We have a much better understanding where we have some potential problems. The other thing that we've done as an industry, and it's been pretty comprehensive and pretty extensive is that we've done what we call pollen and nectar studies. We've gone across many, many, many crops including corn, which only has pollen, no nectar, as well as soybean and you can imagine trying to get nectar out of a little soybean flower because it is small and sometimes you get the pollen contamination, so it's tricky.

We've done very extensive pollen and nectar studies with seed treatments and according to EPA, and you can find this on their website as well as their evaluations, seed treatments pose a very low risk. Very low risk. Now, you'll probably say, well, low risk means there are some risks but keep in mind from an EPA's point of view, there's no such thing as no risk. Low risk is as good as it gets. From a pollen and nectar point of view, which is typically later in the season from under your seed treatments, it's a very low risk to the honey bees.

Dust is an area that we definitely have concerns about and we continue to say, please be careful with the dust or at least make sure that the bees are not close by when you're planting corn.

Kim: I can tell you just right off the top, I spent three summers working at the USDA B Lab in Madison, Wisconsin, and for three summers, I sucked nectar out of soybean flowers all summer long.


Kim: I appreciate the fact of how difficult that can be. Are you looking at adding-- You said you're going to add apples to these BMPs, are you're looking at any other crops?

Caydee: Well, I haven't heard of any other crops because when we do these BMPs, it's pretty extensive. It takes a lot of time because you want to get a lot of experts. You want to have people that are experts in the crops and know the whole phonology of the cropping system. You want to also understand what they're using in terms or times when it's most problematic and so that has to be done. When you think about apples, Western apples are a lot different than Eastern apples in terms of pests and even how they use products. I think this one's going to take a little bit of time.

I haven't seen the first draft, but I also think you could probably apply this to things like pears because pears and apples are both palm fruit, so yes. Definitely, I would say without hesitation, the majority of the insecticide labels say do not apply during flowering. At least you're avoiding that, which is great. Which is great. I say it at all the meetings because they're highly toxic. I think that's probably the best thing to do is just avoid spraying, or do not. We say do not which any PAs if farmers do spray insecticide during flowering, they've actually broken the law when it says not to.

Jeff: It is very important to follow the label. People laugh when you say that, but there's a reason why it's in the label, and you as a label writer, [chuckles] you know why it's there.

Caydee: I know when I first took the job or my previous job, I took it and I think within the first two weeks, maybe we didn't have the language explicit enough. Maybe we hadn't explained it, but we actually had a bee kill and I do not like bee kills. It really ruins everything for me because it's not that I want to deal with it, but I really feel bad because of all the work we do. We even got down to the point where we were saying very specific timing, petal fall. The pink stage or early pink or whatever. It was very specific because sometimes suddenly we'll say, well, five days before petal fall or petal and then they're like, "Well, I don't really know when that's going to be.

because sometimes it happens like in a couple of days."

We tried to be very careful in the language, but I think also unless you have early-season pests, for instance, one of our products controls aphids, and it's probably the only product that does a really good job on these aphids, but they're really mainly in New York. That one they do early season, but usually, it's really like when the twigs are out and there's hardly any flower or even buds. That's good but typically a lot of the insects we're trying to control are after flowering anyway which is important.

Kim: One of the other things I was wondering about and I'm listening to you address it a little bit and you mentioned dust and with those come the term, the neonics. The dust is the problem for beekeepers, I guess the biggest problem. The options a farmer has is hope it rains in terms of controlling dust.

Caydee: Well, as I mentioned, there's a couple of things. They have newer equipment now that has-- A lot of times people think when you see the tractor going through the field, what's behind it is the neonics. No, it's actually, they have what they call these vacuum planters. You used to have what they call finger pickups. Do you remember those where there was like, they picked up individual seeds? Now it's like a giant vacuum. As the vacuum is going through and depending on the lubricant, it may actually abrade or cause dust to form. Before they used to have the equipment, there's this one spot that went straight up in the air and that's not an ideal state, but if you have it going down into the ground, much better. Some have hooded- they have like these like it's almost like curtains that go around, but really you want to mitigate the dust as much as possible.

There are some lubricants that are less dust-causing problems and people know about them, but that's what we really promote. Or the best thing is if the bees can be staged further away during- because corn planting takes about what, two weeks maybe. When it happens, it happens quickly. If they can keep the bees a little bit out of harm during that corn planting season. Once that's done, then it's less hazardous. We're more worried about corn than soybeans, but we're certainly, soybeans could be an issue as well. The corn is definitely more of an issue.

I do want to say that as a company and as other seed treatment providers, we do a lot of testing for dust. They call it a recipe, so they actually have the active ingredient and then they have all the codings that go on the seed and we will go through various tests to make sure that the dust off from that formulation is not a problem. We use the European standards because the US doesn't really have any standards and European standards are very strict. We look at that, we look at cold temperatures, warm temperatures, different equipment, and everything. We do a very extensive testing just to make sure that we're not potentially putting a product out there. Once it gets into the planter, there's always that chance and we're hoping that as things progress we're using more of these modern planters.

Kim: One of the other things that you're involved in with the Coalition is enhancing nutrition. I like that phrase a lot. Enhancing nutrition. Where's your role and what they're talking about is farmers planting additional forage for bees.

Caydee: Okay. For a moment, I was like, please don't ask me about bee nutrition because I am not an expert. Thank you. Okay. Yes, of course. I always tell people I have different parts of my job and I have been very lucky to work with a number of different groups, planting, forage, and habitat. One of the groups we work with, and I think you had Pete Berthelsen speak for the-- Pete and I have gone back a long way and we certainly support his organization, the Bee and Butterfly Habitat Fund, to plant flowers outside of the area where the farming is. It's farmland that they wouldn't be farming anyway, which I think is great. We've actually worked with a number of potato growers who have those four corners when they do the center pivot irrigation and they can plant forage and habitat there.

One question is, well, aren't the pesticides reaching that? Generally, no, because the way they're applying them, it's very precise. That's been a lot of fun and yes, wherever we can plant forage and habitat, to me that's like, let's do it. It's really important. It helps not only the honey bees, but it also helps monarch butterflies, native bees, and that type of thing. Certainly, when I started thinking about honey bees, that's really what I was focusing on. As I evolved over the last few years, I started thinking you plant and you've got lots of bees, it's not just one type of bee. I think sometimes even with monarch butterflies, people think, oh, you plant these flowers and then you just have monarchs. No, you have a lot of other insects too besides butterflies.

It's fun to see all the different insects and see how they're all really doing well. I love that. As an entomologist, you want to see insects everywhere. It's fun for me. I'll tell you one quick story. My town has a- they just bought a farm and they had this milkweed patch and it's a lovely milkweed patch. I wrote to them earlier this year, and I said, "Please, please, please do not cut down that milkweed patch like you do every year." Apparently, the farmer didn't even know. He wasn't paying attention. The town allowed the milkweed to stay and so that was just great. I think we all can do something even at the local level.

Jeff: It all starts there.

Kim: Pete gets up in the morning looking for ways to provide more habitat, and you're just backing them up there with providing nutrition. Hand in hand, it should be working pretty well.

Caydee: Yes, I hope so, but we could all do more. We're not there yet.

Jeff: Oh, real good. Caydee, this has been great fun having you here. Is there anything that you'd like to mention that we haven't asked you about yet?

Caydee: Sure. I have a great deal of respect for beekeepers because I know it's a hard job. I know it's a lot of work to keep the bees healthy. I really have a lot of respect, which is probably why I'm not a beekeeper. I also want just to always remind ourselves that the bees in our case, is part of the agricultural landscape.

We have to find a way to have a balance between the bee health as well as the farmers in what they need to do. If we can get to that place, I think we're in a really much better place and I think part of it is just really trying to understand and communicate with one another. I think there's a lot of farmers and beekeepers that already have this relationship, and I think it would be best for us to continue promoting some of the cooperation that takes place.

Jeff: I think that's a good word to end on.

Kim: Good point.

Jeff: Yes, very good. Caydee, it's been as I said, great pleasure having you on the show. Thank you for representing Honey Bee Health Coalition and all the great work that they're doing. We look forward to possibility having you back.

Caydee: Oh, great. Thank you.

Kim: Caydee, thank you for being here. I learned some things and I hope our listeners did and good luck in keeping doing what you're doing.

Caydee: Thank you. I certainly enjoy it. It's my passion.

Jeff: Thank you. Bye-bye.

Caydee: Thank you. Bye-bye.


Jeff: I was a little concerned as a beekeeper having someone on the podcast talking about chemicals and the application of chemicals and the benefit of chemicals on crops, but when you sit back and think about the dependency our food system has on chemicals, you can't separate them anymore. You can't go back.

Kim: The Honey Bee Health Coalition people knew that right at the beginning, and they made it a point to have those people sit at the table because if you're not at the table, you can't talk. As Caydee said, that's what we need. Is we need more opportunities for exchanging ideas and solving problems. I think what we did today is part of that. What the Honey Bee Health Coalition is doing certainly is leading the way.

We only got one planet. We only got a short time to be here, so we got to learn to get along.

Jeff: Absolutely. It kept me thinking about-- I think it was maybe Jerry Hayes, or maybe-- I can't remember who said, but that very first meeting with the Honey Bee Health Coalition, we had all these different groups representing at the table probably sitting there with their arms folded. I'm not going to talk to that person. I'm not going to talk with that person, but here they are several years later and making great progress and doing great things for bees and for agriculture.

Kim: You're going to have the information for the Honey Bee Health Coalition contacts on the webpage?

Jeff: Always.

Kim: Good.

Jeff: Yes, yes, and links to the other episodes in this series. That about wraps up for this episode. Before we go, I want to encourage our listeners to rate us five stars on Apple Podcast, wherever you download and stream this show, you both help other beekeepers find us quicker. Even better, write a review and let other beekeepers looking for a new podcast know what you like.

You can get there directly from our website by clicking on reviews along the top of any webpage. As always, we thank Bee Culture, the magazine for American beekeeping for their continuous support of Beekeeping Today Podcast. We want to thank our regular episode sponsor, Global Patties. Check them out at

We want to thank Strong Microbials for their support of the podcast. Check out their full probio line at We want to thank Betterbee for joining us. Check out their full line of beekeeping supplies at Finally and most importantly, we want to thank you, the Beekeeping Today Podcast listener for joining us on this show.

Feel free to send us questions and comments at question to We'd love to hear from you. Anything else, Kim?

Kim: I think that about wraps it up, Jeff.

Jeff: All right. Thanks a lot, Kim. Take care. Thanks a lot, everybody.

Ed ColbyProfile Photo

Ed Colby

Beekeeper, Author

Sideline beekeeper. Columnist, Bee Culture magazine "Bottom Board" column since 2002. Author, A Beekeeper's Life, Tales from the Bottom Board. (

Actuarial tables indicate I should be retired, but I continue to be obsessed with Apis Mellifera. I live in western Colorado with the gal Marilyn, the blue heeler Pepper, 15 chickens, three geese, four lambs and way too many bees.

Caydee SavinelliProfile Photo

Caydee Savinelli

Stewardship Team and Pollinator Lead

Caydee Savinelli is the Syngenta U.S. Stewardship Team and Pollinator Lead. In this role, she leads a team with goals of advocating, educating, and collaborating for stewardship of Syngenta products in order to provide American farmers a variety of tools. The team provides catalyst for change through Sustainable and Responsible Business and Good Growth Plan initiatives. Some of the main areas of the stewardship team’s focus are environmental issues, endangered species, pesticide safety education and pollinator and biodiversity conservation initiatives.

Caydee has focused on pest management, product development and crop protection throughout her 37-year career and has worked in the U.S., Europe and Latin America. Caydee holds a Ph.D. in Entomology with a minor in Crop Science from North Carolina State University, a M.S. in Entomology from The Pennsylvania State University and a B.A. in Biology from Gettysburg College. Caydee’s interest in agriculture and entomology started in childhood during the time spent at her grandfather’s orange grove in Florida.