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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:

I KEEP ASKING MYSELF THE SAME QUESTION. IT'S LIKE BEATING OUR HEAD AGAINST A WALL, ISN'T IT?

The UK lost its bumblebees.
They had to turn to New Zealand to bring bumblebees from there back to their ancestral home to restart the species.
And of course Monsanto is furious that the European Union is trying to block pesticides that may be leading to these collapses - and suing to FORCE them to buy their products. So much for free trade.......

Randi, Bumblebees do pollinate but they do not produce much honey. I believe you meant to say honey bees when you said bumblebees. I just googled about bumblebees and it was saying that yes, bumbles make honey but not really an excess. Their colony is much smaller, in the ground and the honey if for the survival of the colony and feeding of the queen that will keep continue the colony. Taking their honey may kill their colony whereas honeybees have large colonies of bees and they store excess honey that can be "harvested". You still want to leave enough for the bees to use through the winter and winterize their hive to ensure they survive the cold and lack of flowers to work. I don't know anything about their history in Europe. I have family members who keep honeybees in Ohio.

Free trade? It's extortion. It's murder.

We need the birds and the bees. We need to keep advocating for the good of the planet and future generations! Thank you, Earth Justice!

Face it, this planet is doomed! Big Business controls what once was our government. It is beyond criminal. Just what is their plan. Hey all you evil CEOs just give us a hint. Oh could it possibly be about money, surely not! That's not the American way! These people are criminal, evil and should be the first to go on a space shuttle to Mars. They wouldn't have to worry about bees there or any other living thing. I wish they would go now and let the people that care about the planet take care of it. I love this planet and people that do it harm don't deserve to partake in its bounty. We aren't going to have a bounty though once these assholes get finished with it! I hope these devils burn in hell.

Face it, this planet is doomed! Big Business controls what once was our government. It is beyond criminal. Just what is their plan. Hey all you evil CEOs just give us a hint. Oh could it possibly be about money, surely not! That's not the American way! These people are criminal, evil and should be the first to go on a space shuttle to Mars. They wouldn't have to worry about bees there or any other living thing. I wish they would go now and let the people that care about the planet take care of it. I love this planet and people that do it harm don't deserve to partake in its bounty. We aren't going to have a bounty though once these assholes get finished with it! I hope these devils burn in hell.

About the only thing to get the attention of the companies responsible for this crisis is to boycott their products;. Hopefully that will get their attention.

Knowledge must be put in front of the people, when all see the facts these people will be hard pressed.

The reason they don't want to keep pollinators alive is that the GMO foods are artificially created and don't use natural pollinating to create a plant. When all food is GMO then the controlling industries who create the GMOs have total control over our food supply and they can name their price for food and even starve out whole populations if needed. They know very well what they are doing. There is also a lot of money being changed from hand to hand in furthering big food industries such as Kelloggs and the meat industries.

That makes horrible sense. Grow your own, buy local and buy organic if you can. Oh yeah- start raising bees. Bees are very cool.

Wow. That makes sense.

I'm afraid you're right, and I've suspected the same thing myself. I don't know what basis you have to say this, if you have informed data or what…I only know that's been my gut feeling. The big pollinators don't care because the world they're trying to create, hand in hand with the purveyors of GMOs and the FDA, don't care. They've already solved that problem. So now, my question is, what can we do to step the tide of corporate pests that feed on the human race and the planet? Is there any stopping them? Can people really take hold of themselves, do without guilty pleasures and boycott these vultures?

Can we do anything? It's not easy, especially on a global scale, and a more expensive way of life. First and foremost, support organizations opposing GMO's and working for accurate labelling. Second, find farmers markets and buy from the organic planters. Buy from health food stores whenever possible. We all don't have to do it all, but the more we do, the louder statement we make. I don't buy all my food this way, but especially fruits & vegetables if organic at Farmers Market. At health food stores vegetables, beans, rice, cereals, grains, and those types of foods. There's organic milk, cheese, etc. and even chicken, eggs, etc. In my opinion, the best way we can respond to any issue of concern, is to vote with our pocketbooks. It's also hard, because often it's a more expensive way to live.

Also needed is a letter signed by all scientists/researchers sent to FDA?congress/Senate and maybe as a full-page ad In NY Times.The letter should HUMILIATe the FDa.

EPA - Evil Promoting Atrocities!

The EPA/FDA need to keep their constituents straight, it is the publics safety that they are there to protect not the pockets of the billionaire corporations that develop these poisons.

FDA=Monsanto=Obama

FDA=Monsanto=Obama

FDA=Monsanto=Obama

Why allow these pesticides be used to destroy the food that we regularly eat? No food no people.. It is as simple as that.

Read the Georgia Guidestones and all will be explained.

Read the Georgia Guidestones and all will be explained.

Wake up, people of earth! We are hurting ourselves, our children and each other by wanting to control nature, and earth's creatures. Do we realize the consequence of using toxic chemicals and not honoring the earth? Do we value money more than health? Are we not called to be stewards?

Big government has got to go, end of story. We are ruled by mega-bucks corporations that clearly have only one thing on their minds: more short-term profits. The heck with the long-term effects on nature, and on the rest of us. Hats off to anyone fighting the good fight! Whether you know it or not, you are considered a part of the Aurorean Nation Community -- light-bringers and dawn-warriors.

WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE?!!! this needs to stop now, Bees are crucial to the environment and our plants. not be poisoned by disgusting and vile pesticide bullshit!! I've had enough of this crap going on.

Bees are essential to our agriculture. We must stop decimating them.

Bees are essential to our agriculture. We must stop decimating them.

The effect of barring bee-killing pesticides on Monsanto's profit margin is insignificant compared to the survival of bees. The pollination of many of our food products depends upon bees, and the FDA and EPA should realize that they are shooting themselves in the foot if not in the head by allowing such products to be used.

My question is; WHY is ANOTHER pesticide being created to kill bees? Or is this just another non-selective pesticide that happens to kill bees? And why is the EPA approving yet another pesticide that does the same job as the hundreds of others already out there on the market? OH, I get it; its so some greedy chemical company can sell even more "crap to the masses"!! Sounds like who ever the chemical co. is has a strangle hold on the EPA!!

Well, I hope you guys at Earth Justice win one for the bees and for us too, as we are ALL going to be effected by the results of this out of control corporate greed!!!!!!!!!!

EPA is meant to protect the environment and people. We can't afford colony collapse of bees or any insect which pollinates our food source. EPA has lost its' focus, must be put back on track and ban these toxic chemicals.!

Neonicotinoid insecticides are the cause of Bee Colony Collapse Disorder. There is no doubt that the use of these type of insecticides are killing the bees. I can not understand why the EPA would approve these chemicals for use in the environment. We know what these chemicals are doing to the honey bee industry. But I have read or heard of no study of the affect on native pollinators. An also how this poison is being concentrated in the tissues of higher predators up the food chain. We could be poisoning ourselves! So, let's stop this insanity NOW!

Are they crazy? Your apple trees will stop producing, you will end up paying 10 times the cost for a GMO apple. Your garden will stop producing, you will end up paying 10 times the cost for fresh GMO produce. GREEDY, IMMORAL, MONEY-HUNGRY BASTARDS that want to control the food market. The EPA should ban any more toxic chemicals that kill our bees.

We must be kinder to our ecosystem before it perishes...so many just don't realize the importance of honey bees!

Is there a petition against this yet, because I'd like to sign!

Is this how GMO foods will be introduced? To replace actual food? Government from hell.

It sure seems like "they" are trying to get rid of the bees
so we would have to eat gmo foods ! How dare they !

Agreed. GMOs are merely an exponential dose of pesticide delivery system. Guess we must be pests then eh?

There are companies that manufacture oil-eating microbes that could be useful in cleaning the (petroleum-based) pesticides from the soil. When the microbes are finished they input healthy humates back into the soil. It is a real option for environmental cleaning. So then stopping the continued use of poison is another thing altogether. Just google to find..- one co is ultra tech.

I agree that the FDA is owned by Big Business, what government agency is not? This has to stop, not only is this killing the bees but it is killing us eventually. We need them for pollination of our food. But our government and Big Business is only worried about profit. We must fight this every way possible.

Amen. Well said.cPMtR

Bees are so important to the food chain and must be protected. Get rid of these highly toxic pesticides otherwise millions of bees will be wiped out for good and that will be disastrous.

Its clear that you have been bought-off. I hope its clear to you that
WE WILL NOT GO AWAY!!!!

Corporations are about making money, almost exclusively for their execs and for their stockholders....the more the better...Boycotting their products is the only message they really can hear....So which companies are most responsible? which products do they offer to the largest percentage of the public? let's stop purchasing that product....Cesar Chavez stopped the purchasing of lettuce and grapes for years....and he didn't have the internet to spread the word....but it worked for the farmworkers in the 70'. It could work again now...

Wikipidia states that the neonicotinoid insecticides are Bayer Crop Science's product. It would seem that short-term gain on their investment has long trumped the value of maintaining a reasonably good corporate reputation, i.e., they have a history of selling questionably products. I am not sure if they are in any way connected to the baby-aspirin manufacturer, on the order of Kraft and, Nabisco, which I consider to be the money-laundering branches of the tobacco companies that killed my father and grandmother.

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.

Yes, we must get the word out and make this a more visible issue. We must require a FDA that is not owned by corporations.

Bees need our help just like we need theirs to life. We can't let them down.

Another fine example of american exceptionalism and how very dumb and stupid a creature we are. We do not have an alternative planet; this planet is a finite resource we are destroying exponentially. We are killing bees, bats, spiders, wolves, bears, birds, trees, etc, and we are killing ourselves, mostly out of being lamebrained idiots. Without the balance of nature, we are doomed. We need it and them; they do not need us. Shall we choose life, or shall we choose death, it is simple enough perhaps even a human could understand what it all means.

Amen!

Seems like the EPA should remove the "P" from their name; doesn't seem like they are interested in protecting us anymore.

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