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Why Honeybees Matter

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View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
06 December 2013, 9:43 AM
Collapsed colonies spell disaster for our food system, and toxic pesticide is to blame
Honeybee visits a mountain mint blossom. (Photo courtesy of Penn State)

Want to know what else disappears if honeybee colonies continue their alarming rate of collapse? Our food.

According to Time Magazine, honeybees, which pollinate crops like apples, blueberries and cucumbers, are responsible for one-third of the food we eat.

Which is why a lawsuit brought by Earthjustice is so important. We're representing the Pollinator Stewardship Council, American Honey Producers Association, National Honey Bee Advisory Board, the American Beekeeping Federation, and beekeepers Bret Adee, Jeff Anderson and Thomas R. Smith. In the opening brief just filed, groups argue that the EPA failed to measure exactly what risk a toxic pesticide, sulfoxaflor, poses to bees.

At issue is the fact that this potent pesticide—so poisonous that EPA classifies it as “very highly toxic” to honeybees and other insect pollinators—was approved by the EPA despite evidence linking it and similar “neonicotinoid” pesticides to the widespread and massive bee colony collapse. And now, an entire industry is being wiped out, and beekeepers are rightfully angry. As a result, beekeepers enlisted Earthjustice in July as their final recourse to save their struggling industry.

Here is what beekeeper, farmer and Earthjustice client Rick Smith said about this case:

Native and managed pollinators are a national resource providing an irreplaceable service in the production of high quality fruits and vegetables for our families.

Pesticide application is a stewardship responsibility farmers take seriously. The EPA neglected to provide mandatory label instructions which would protect pollinators and allow farmers to proudly live up to that stewardship responsibility.

And if you missed it, listen to an August 2013 interview about the lawsuit with Earthjustice attorney Greg Loarie, who discusses what's at stake, alternatives to sulfoxaflor and what consumers can do to help bees:

As one who has had a fascination with all of
Nature since childhood, and respect for it,
I am always amazed
by those who seem to be so short sighted!

Planet Earth is our home, but it is also
home to so many other species, who have
a right to carry on.!

I became involved with the DEP years ago,
in helping to raise and release some
young Bald Eagles back
into South Jersey, where they were once
Plentiful before we began using DDT.
Pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, and
Insecticides may seem like the way to go to
some folks; but those who are thinking
about the rippling effect of these harsh
chemicals, know these are not the solution!

The pollinators are critical in the food web,
Not only for us; but in the wider picture.
40% of our fruits/vegetables are pollinated
by the honey bee. Our food!!!

While they move from
Flower to flower, they not only help to create
The fruits of that plant; but help that plant to
continue having its future with the spreading
of The pollen. These flowers feed butterflies
And others too and are an important/integral
part Of the ecosystem!

Im very involved with a community garden
Where we live. Over the summer, the
presence Of the honey bee and
several other pollinators
was noticeably low !!

Like many who have written comments
before me, I Too, wonder when
we are going to stop.............
harming the earth.
Do we have to put every
Creature on the endangered list or
have them Become extinct
before we wake up??

EPA letters stand for the Environmental
Protection lets see some
Protecting of the honey bee and
the other pollinators too, instead of allowing
Sulfoxalfor to be on the market.


So, it is not enough with hive collapse. What are you going to grow now....poisoned dirt?
Unfortunately, if no longer surprises me on the ignorance of those that pollute/destoy etc, all for money. I wish you good eating with poisoned weeds on your poisoned and mineral free dirt.

How about we ask a team of accountants "what % of a C.E.O.,s salary & bonus is subject to IRS deductions on behalf of the general tax revenue?

What would you call an entity that knowingly and deliberately engages in practices that harms the environment, innocent creatures, and all of humankind?


At last the crazies are in charge. What have we been missing all these years apart from new and wonderful ways of killing one another.

It is time everyone who cares stand up and be counted.

I wish corporations would stop trying ways to get filthy rich by introducing pesticides into the environment that eliminate living animals or insects that have a purpose on this planet. Please keep these people from trying to cheat the natural systems the earth provides naturally.

The same people who have their lawns sprayed for wild violets and dandelions in an effort to have them look like putting greens, have their trees butchered because they have too many leaves. They are killing our bees and praying mantis, and walking sticks and butterflies because the peonies have ants, and there are caterpillars on the milk weed. We have encouraged bumble bees to nest here and mark the entrance to keep barefooted grandchildren away from their homes. We have two nests so far. I found the first nest early in spring as I pulled weeds and was suddenly covered with bees. I slowly stepped away from the nest, and they left me unmolested. Now if someone can help me with spiders.

Spider and other predator insects are actually as beneficial as bees.
Daddy long legs & wolf spiders eat black widows. Brown Recluse eat cockroaches and silverfish. In agricultural areas and gardens they serve to reduce pests; their benefit may exceed US $100 billion per
year. They are usually very non-aggressive & only bite when threatened or provoked. Indoor numbers can be kept down by vacuuming or catch & release in ceiling corners, dark areas behind furniture, behind picture frames etc. Please do not spray pesticides which is a very cruel way to die. I catch all insects in my house (including scorpions & black widows) by placing a container over them & then sliding a piece of cardboard underneath. Non-poisonous species I release in my garden & flowerbeds. Poisonous species I release in non-residential areas, vacant lots etc. I have never been stung or bitten. Good website:

We literally ARE nature. Trying to kill "pest" species with high tech

biocides will have side effects like any "medicine" has side effects.

In this case the side effect is suicide. We are systematically killing

the miracle and damaging ourselves when we buy these chemicals........

but you already know that.

As a species we all know that bees are but proverbial canaries in the coal mine, The real problem is that we are running out of canaries! We have a veritable graveyard of extinct species and the list is growing exponentially. At this rate, we will soon enough stop adding to the list in any substantial way as there will be no species left to add but our own. However, even now it is still not too late.

stop hurting bees

It seems that anything involving man-made pesticides, chemicals, and
in some cases medicines in part or in whole will kill our plants,
insects, animals, and us.

We should turn toward finding organic solutions to problems of
producing foods, medicines, etc.

Humans are killing the bees with pesticides that should never have
been approved.

We should demand that the EPA and FDA do their jobs in a way that does not threaten individuals, animals, insects, our foods that grow in soil and those that live in our rivers and oceans.

This is critical to all living creatures on the planet.

Stop using pesticides ! . Protect our Bee colonies.

FDA+ Mosantos + Goverment = Big criminals.

This is so sick, we need to protect everything involved here. The bee's are OUR lifeline, what does this tell you about your grandchildrens future? Not happy til we're all dead, this is so sick! Do the RIGHT thing protect our bee population, it DOES affect US all!

Submitted by susan rudnicki (not verified) on December 15, 2013.

As a rescuer of feral bee colonies from conflict with humans in Southern California, and a keeper of feral honeybees, the big piece of the story the media and some advocacy groups are neglecting is the genetic selection of "designer honeybees" coming out of Ag School labs and the in-hive treatments with chemicals and antibiotics that the commercial and conventional beeks are putting in their OWN hives. These practices depress the immune response system of bees, and the genetic manipulations ensure a shallow gene pool with characteristics HUMANS desire, but which serve to weaken bee stocks.
Watch the two little documentary films which bravely set out this scenario---"More Than Honey" and "Vanishing of the Bees" Big Ag and Big Pharma/Chem industries are definitely to blame for their part, but the highly controlled and abusive practices of commercial pollinator industry has a lot to answer for as well. Your are not getting the full picture here. We MUST stop dousing hives with chemicals for invasive, exotic bee pests and diseases and address the many underlying problems with a unsustainable, abusive migratory pollinator industrial model to prop up our industrial food systems.

I have paid twice beekeepers to get them out of my water meter. Finally the city sprayed them dead. Now they are crawling again in the same place, beautiful rates hanging in my water meter. Wished someone had the knowledge and bring me a hive. I have no car only a bike.I will never use their returgitated honey but want them to live not being killed! I need them for my 17 fruit trees! In a city lot. Eat and press all their fruits and juices. Coby 1818 341-6153

Susan, I could not agree with you more!

Not all for profit companies are bad. Our company is working the "save the beeS" path through different means.

We teach gardeners how to raise gentle mason bees. We want these people to be so successful raising these bees a few different things happen:

1) the gardener has too many bees after a few years and provides us with those excess cocoons. We then will get these to nearby orchards for augmentation of the normal honey bee pollination.

2) People who own bees behave differently with their yards. Less chemicals, and they get mad at their nearby neighbor who sprays. Mason bees only move in a 300' circle, so it's easy to know what's going on.

3) Since mason bees are gentle, people get over their fear and tell others... and thus we have the first two elements being repeated.

We support all efforts to restrict use of toxic chemicals, but we're tired of waiting for someone else to do things. Thus, we're actively working in parallel to such efforts.

We need bees. Mason bees are an answer to augment the industrious honey bee.

I have always dreamed of keeping bees. I live just south of San Francisco, really close to the ocean and it is super cold, windy, etc. Do you think Mason bees could survive here? Maybe I will ask for that for Christmas. I love bees!

The answer is to stop polluting and killing the Honey Bee. Saving the Honey Bee and all bees will save the rest of us. The Honey Bee is like the Canary in the coal mind.

The answer is to stop polluting and killing the Honey Bee. Saving the Honey Bee and all bees will save the rest of us. The Honey Bee is like the Canary in the coal mind.

As long as brainless bureaucrats in the EPA and BLM (and not experts such as biologists, physicians, chemists, environmentalists etc,) make decisions based on who paid them to make stupid, moronic, uneducated decisions, we better learn how to get to Mars quick, because our lovely Earth will become a cemetery. There will be no life of any kind left - poisoned air, poisoned water, no food, no animals, no humans. What a great legacy we will leave to whoever survives us (probably the cockroach.) Read The Road by Cormac McCarthy. Amen.

We won't have to go to Mars because the conditions here will be similar.

Amen, I couldn't of said it better myself, it just takes one look into the background of the individual members of the decision makers in the EPA to see who they are REALLY working for, not for us.. that's for sure... I don't know how they sleep at night and how they can look their children and grand children in the eyes knowing they are contributing to their demise....

Saving the pollinators is one of out most urgent issues. We need to be moving rapidly into organic practices, not adding more toxins to the deadly mix we already have. Organic isn't difficult and the benefits are huge. Quit pandering to the greed of corporations and start caring for the larger population and the long term needs of all life,

agenda 21 anyone?

Stop wi the pesticides. You are killing all of us!

Please protect the bee's, with out them we will lose a great many species of plants interrupting the food chain.

Please protect the bee's, with out them we will lose a great many species of plants interrupting the food chain.

This BS has been going on as long as there were $$$ chem companies. Our job is to pressure government until we bleed and they cry"No More!".
What the hey are farmers thinking????????
Anyone using this crap is culpable, too.


If you are in the position to keep one or move hives of bees, do so.

Bee culture is fascinating-
and support community gardens and local organic farms.


I have signed up for bee-keeping classes this spring. I am hoping that they will be able to survive in such a caustic environment.

In many ways, the Bush regime morphed into the Obama regime, with hardly a ripple.

When the Obama administration got started, they quickly found they could not get appointees approved by the Senate easily. Foolishly, they backed off from the normal practice of replacing nearly all of the positions that are appointed, and left in place many US Attorneys and other appointees, who now serve as moles who continue Bush-era policies, or whatever the conservative line is, to frustrate the President and make him look unable to govern, and to harass or imprison Democrats around the country. This is apparently a continuation strategy of the Bush administration policy of packing not only the appointed service but also the upper level civil service with conservatives from religious colleges (Liberty University, etc.). The Senate has finally removed the filibuster rule from these appointees, but the damage is already done.

Can anyone get Bill Maher or Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert to talk about this absolute travesty?
It makes no sense. I agree, the EPA should be disbanded and completely reformed with informed and interested people, as well as properly funded. Will it ever happen? Doubtful in this age, when people don't want taxes raised. And many truly can't afford more, but many can. Or could we each give up the price of a drink a week to fund something? Anyone want to quit smoking to supply funding?
It just seems the world is going to hell!

Together we shall talk about this and not rely on the conservative media to do the talking for us. Spread the word.

Can anyone get Bill Maher or Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert to talk about this absolute travesty?
It makes no sense. I agree, the EPA should be disbanded and completely reformed with informed and interested people, as well as properly funded. Will it ever happen? Doubtful in this age, when people don't want taxes raised. And many truly can't afford more, but many can. Or could we each give up the price of a drink a week to fund something? Anyone want to quit smoking to supply funding?
It just seems the world is going to hell!

I'm beyond knowing what to say to the polluters who benefit financially from their malpractices.
I find it abhorrent, but I'm merely a voting individual, without the corporate incentive/control for
profit, first, and social responsibility last, if at all.


How long will it take us to figure out that we are going to undermine our ability to produce adequate food, unless we stop poisoning a critical pollinator....the honeybee. Humans should stop assuming that we are the all knowing, the controller. Unless we stop spraying our honeybees into toxic extinction, our chances for agricultural security are a big fat waste of time.

Debbie HIcks

Because people think only of themselves, they are very selfish, and stupid, brainwashed, and most of all ignorant. They live in their
own world and you had better not disturb THAT world.

How do we get recolonize our American Bees ?

As long as there is demand for products from the bee-killers this will never change. These type of business people don't care a damn about bees or humans or anything. They just want to make money. We need to get information on which organizations are doing this and find bee-friendly alternatives to their products.

I just don't understand why we must mess around with anything in nature. We should already know that we destroy most of what we touch.

Is it a requirement of the FDA that they hate their own children. To allow such horrendous chemicals is insane. I wouldn't sell my children for a Million Dollars & yet they allow their children & ours to be exposed to these chemicals & to allow these chemicals to decimate the bee population & disrupt the food chain is beyond despicable. All it takes for Evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.

Save God's insects and our food supply!

We cannot live without bees and insects. We CAN live without Montsano and huge agribusiness corporations

IF THIS DOSEN`T STOP ! WE ARE NEXT----------------------------------------------------

Why are people so STUPID!!!!!!!!!!!!!



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