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Home > Protecting Our Lands & Waters > Best Management Practices > Pollinators and Their Habitat > Bee Kill Compensation > Investigation Process

Investigation Process for Alleged Pesticide Bee Kills as Related to Compensation


To view a graphical representation of the Minnesota Department of Agriculture's (MDA's) investigation process as it relates to compensation for "acute pesticide poisoning" of honey bees visit:

Updated: January 14, 2016 Investigation Process for Alleged Pesticide Bee Kills as Related to Compensation (PDF: 150 KB / 1 page)

Below is a written explanation, broken into numbered sections, of the MDA's investigation process as it relates to compensation for "acute pesticide poisoning" of honey bees. Follow the numbers in order unless criteria explained suggest an alternate section flow.

  1. The MDA receives a call regarding an alleged pesticide related honey bee kill.  The MDA responds by organizing a team to investigate.
  2. Upon arrival the MDA conducts an interview with the beekeeper before investigating the alleged pesticide-related bee kill according to existing MDA protocols. In addition to sampling for pesticide residues, MDA investigators conduct hive health assessments and collects samples for mites / spores (short analysis time) and viruses (delayed analysis time depending on consultation).  The hive assessments and sample results are reviewed by an MDA entomologist.  The MDA reserves the right to contract with a third party as necessary. 
  3. After gathering information, collected samples are submitted to their respective laboratories for analysis.  Once analyzed, sample information is considered by investigators and shared with the beekeeper.  
  4. Information related to compensation is considered in the context of the law. For the bee kill to be considered an "acute pesticide poisoning" the following three criteria are strongly considered: 1) Are there 100 or more dead bees in/around the honey bee hive for every live frame of bees quantified? If there are 3 or fewer frames of bees present, a minimum of 300 dead bees need to be collected; if there are 10 or more frames of bees present, a maximum of 1,000 dead bees need to be collected. 2) Are pesticides present on/in dead bees? Both a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Science Laboratory and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture Laboratory are used to determine pesticide residue concentrations. 3) Is the apiary in question registered with BeeCheck / DriftWatch?
  • Generally, if the answer to any of these questions is no, the bee kill incident is not considered an "acute pesticide poisoning" eligible for compensation. See section 7 for how these cases are processed.
  • If the answer to all of these questions is yes, the bee kill is likely to be considered an "acute pesticide poisoning." Proceed to section 5 for information on how these cases are processed.
  1. If answers to questions in section 4 were yes, the beekeeper will be provided with or directed to a compensation claim form. Minnesota's "fair market value" for compensation to beekeepers is derived from the USDA's Emergency Livestock Assistance Program’s (ELAP) value for hive replacement.  Academic experts and beekeepers review the ELAP value annually to ensure a “fair market value” for Minnesota.
  2. The compensation claim form provides the beekeeper an opportunity to seek an upward adjustment to the "fair market value."  Requests for upward adjustments must be supported with a written explanation and documentation to justify the requested increase.
  • If an upward adjustment is claimed by the beekeeper, the claim is reviewed in consultation with academic experts and beekeepers, and is then submitted to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture commissioner for review and a compensation determination.  For more information on why experts are consulted, see section 7.
  • If an unadjusted, "fair market value",  claim is submitted by the beekeeper, the claim will go to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture commissioner for review and a compensation determination.
  1. Experts are consulted to:
  • Provide necessary chemical and colony health analytical services and interpretation;
  • Review death and illness investigations–
    • For research into associations between sub-lethal pesticide impacts and colony health.
    • For the opportunity to engage experts in an additional site visit; and
    • Review eligible compensation cases that seek upward adjustment to the "fair market value" compensation.