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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:

Please do not allow the use of neonicotinoid pesticides, it kills our necessary honey bees!!

We will control the Food ... We are forced to buy
Long live the Bee

We are poisoning this amazing planet at faster than ever rates. Greed and profits are more important than protecting our world and all who live on it. Wake up! There are consequences to these damaging actions. The longer we continue to blind ourselves to the consequences the greater the damage and the more difficult to undo. Stop letting the pressure of big business keep you from doing the right thing.

I believe Monsanto types are now working on a GMO bee.... The corporate goal is to patent all life. Money is running out of control.

Please save our bees. We need them.

quit killing out honeybees. no more pesticides

Please think of our future and get rid of these highly toxic pesticides.Marie.

Insistence upon use of this pesticide is clearly and simply a corporate crime with the US government complicit. Death of the bees will mean death of many humans as well.

I have been involved of all areas of horticulture for most of my 66 years, and I am keenly aware of the dominant role of bees as pollinators in our food production system. Over the years, I have sprayed my share of pesticides in vegetable and ornamental crop production, but always carefully following label instructions in order to limit possible harm to humans, to beneficials and the environment. But with the recent drastic decline in honeybee populations and the apparent correlation to the use of these new bee-toxic insecticides, I have ceased in the use of pesticides altogether for the past 15 years or so. By adopting sustainable practices, I have very manageable loss to insects, and I preserve these precious pollinators that are critical and irreplaceable players in the sustainability of our food production system. I maintain that we need to place a moratorium on the continued wholesale approval of these highly toxic products until we know for certain what their long-term impact will be on our future and that of our planet's natural resources. It seems our solution to a bump in the road in any aspect of agriculture or any other area for that matter is to create another chemical or temporary artificial fix with little or no regard for its impact on us or our environment. I think it is time for us to abandon this failing plan of action and seek alternative and sustainable solutions.

The Environmental "Protection" Agency has become less about protection of the environment and more about protection of multinational corporations. They have become yet another purposeless bureaucracy accepting all manner of bribes from lobbyists. It is up to the farmers and citizens themselves to become informed and stop using these products which eventually harm us all. The EPA clearly does not care about "protection" of anything besides their individual bank accounts.

quit killing out honeybees

The EPA is a joke On our country.
Under Obama it's become way worse than ever before
The bee problem is one that should be a national concern , and this administration has done nothing, and now is exasperating it.

Please outlaw this toxic poison that is killing our honeybees!! We have to have them!

As a mead maker and native of planet Earth, I think anything which harms honey bees is suicidal and to be avoided.

We need to remember that, as far as Mother Earth is concerned, we're just another experiment....the world will live without us, and, given current events, better off without us.
Having said that, I feel the biblical injunction, "Go forth and inherit the earth,...have dominion over the fish, etc", is a direct command to take care of it,.....dominion having at it's root domicile.
I unfortunately see no way out...colony collapse can, and probably will, happen to us also; but, being Irish and German, I'm stubborn enough to believe that, if we make changes not in the world, but in our own habits of consumption, and our own personal responsibility to our ecosystem, Mother Earth will honor us, and accept all the help we can give her.

You should let those bees live,they only take nectar to make honey. They don't sting people or do anything harmful.

EPA means ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION Agency. Honey bees are pollinators and are important to our environment. Protect the honey bees by doing away with toxic pesticides.

Soon we will be without our critical pollinators, bees. No matter how much money is spent there will be no way to replace their critical job in our ecosystem. Without them we will eventually die as well and in the mean time, our quality of life will be greatly diminished.

Soon we will be without our critical pollinators, bees. No matter how much money is spent there will be no way to replace their critical job in our ecosystem. Without them we will eventually die as well and in the mean time, our quality of life will be greatly diminished.

It is not just the farmers. We live on the edge of a forest owned by the local water company. The wild bees always came to the flowers on our deck, and often fell asleep in them. I loved finding sleeping bees when I went out in the early morning, but now it is rare. We are miles from any farm BUT some of our neighbors spray for mosquitoes and ticks. If you read the label you will see that the spray also kills bees, and if it drains down into the stream that runs through all our properties it will kill the fishes.
Our stream supplies water to New Haven - Yale should watch out!

Hi and thank you for your article. You and your readers may be interested to know that the Institute of BioAcoustic Biology in Albany, Ohio (with practitioners around the world) has "antidotes" to these chemicals, using sound frequencies. They can also suggest possible food antidotes to them. As we wait for legislative or judicial relief, which as we know can take years, this may be one way for beekeepers to protect their colonies. What do you think?

the greedy, unscrupulous Monsanto's of the world are making this planet increasingly

unlivable . where are they going?

Why would any responsible government agency not listen ttest products for harm to an industry as important as that as the honey bee before approving? This is alarming and unacceptable. Thank you Earth Justice!

Bee

You know that the Government is DUMB, they do not know what they are doing.

Save our bees before it is too late!

How in the world did you get your job(s)??? If you cannot see that you are no different than a politician with your hand out then we will all die under your direction. Do you also get paid off by Monsanto just like the politicians??

We must not wait for science to prove conclusively that a pesticide is unsafe; because in most cases the science is immature and incapable of such proof. If there is anecdotal evidence that it is unsafe, then it should be banned until the the industry proves conclusively that it IS safe. Discretion.

We don't have a choice. If all the bees die we will not have any food to eat. It's a no-brainer.
Their are other alternatives to toxic pesticides. The EPA needs to understand the basics of how crops grow and how important bees are.

God has made all things good. It is not up to us to destroy everything that moves. Get a life, one that does not involve killing!

It is amazing how the EPA and the USDA have ignored the scientific community and are responsible for damaging our food supply and our planet. This is not only wrong, but it is immoral and unethical. I pray these agencies understand how important the decisions they make are, what damage their actions are causing, return to good farming practices and stop the use of toxic pesticides and GMO foods.

Well put!! Thank you

As an American governmental agengy you need to protect the people you serve not big business.

EPA, if you're gonna become another rogue government agency like the
USFWS, BLM, DNR, and other infidel bureaucracies,
We, The People, will rise up in rebellion and shut you down so fast,
it'll make your heads spin!!
Get rid of those @#%&!! pesticides or else we will have you prosecuted
on charges of criminal endangerment to the public,
violations of the Endangered Species Act and other crimes against Nature,
and HIGH TREASON against the American people and the United States!!

Just remember this, you bureaucratic pencil-necks...
If our bees die from pesticide poisoning, we die from starvation...
And if we die from starvation,
you will die when God strikes you down with His mighty hand!!!

Instead of getting rid of our bees,
get rid of the Koch Bros. and the Monsanto mafia!!
Rub out the corporate polluters, NOT the American people!!

Please address your concerns to your congressperson, the President.

Protect the bees=PROTECTING MANKIND.

The future of veg and fruit food production depends largely upon the honey bee for pollination. Lets stop all the absolutely asinine behavior. We all know the poisoning of our wild life is criminally destructive so quit it now.
George Quinn
Fort Pierce, Florida

Stop the Neonecotinoid pesticide!

Please help save the bees-without them we would have no food.

If the EPA isn't doing its job then we need to defund the EPA and start over after kicking out the prepaid Monsanto's EPA . Start over. Reset.

This is ridiculous. EPA is in the business of approving something and then making the tax payers to clean up the mess. We need food not more pesticides.

My fellow citizens have here already expressed my thoughts and feelings so well that all I can add is a strong ditto!

The GMO perpetrators have deployed their multipronged attempt to redesign our nature.First they destroy the soil by spraying glyphosate a chelator that renders vital minerals unusable by plants so that only those crops that are genetically modified can grow.Then they go after pollinators so that they can have an excuse to further manipulate the genes of those plants that need pollinators so as to pollinate themselves .Lastly they will attempt to genetically manipulate our genes so that we can tolerate excessive amounts of toxic substances found in their shoddy wares cause what they come up with can only be bought from your local chemical store such is their toxicity .Any person who buys GMOs is helping these companies in crime for their ultimate goal is to enslave every human being left on this planet by making sure he/she can no longer grow natural crops in any other way but by spraying huge amounts of chemicals on them.

The US now has 1,200 pesticides approved for agricultural use; the European Union has 400. Can we even doubt that the EPA is rife with corruption? The answer is a big NO; as they stink of corruption.

This is a perfect example of the downside of capitalism where corporate greed and the quest for ever increasing profits trumps all other considerations.

Honeybees and other pollenators have a crucial role in our agricultur. Killing them off will only increase the crappy modified foods we have to eat, and decrease the amount of healthy foods available to us from local farms.

Thank you for all the work you do to try to make this country a better, healthier and more aware place. In so many ways we have become a scientific experiment gone awry causing illness to people, plants and other species, especially bees. We are all guinea pigs and the outcome is dire and at the mercy of companies looking for quick profit. I just asked my husband today, 'who is fighting for the planet' and received my answer. You are and we all need to do more. Maybe if there were pesticides to help reduce the human population, the carrying capacity of the planet wouldn't be at steak. There are just too many people on this planet who are unconscious and don't see what is truly important compared to the ones that do.

Warmly,

Carol

You are right on board with Monsanto's plan to reduce the human population. Why else would they be poisoning the food, air and water? Soon your dream will be a reality. Alas there won't be much left for the remaining humans bc the soil air and water will be contaminated. But at least it won't be over crowded. If the 1% or to be fair, the .001% we're not such parasitic, inbred, ego centric, crazy, greedy, psychopaths, there is more than enough on the planet for everyone. We Just have a handful of real turds controlling the majority of wealth and they are nut jobs. Hoarding the wealth like hoarders do. They are simply clueless and insane from breeding amongst their own families for 1000's of years. Old trust fund families that have never done a days work in their lives. Don't buy the lies that they are richer because they are smarter or work harder. They are just parasites that live off the body of the economy they control through fraudulent monetary policies that rob the working class . The parasite has outgrown the body. The economy is a tapeworm eating itself. Monsanto is part of this. If these parasites control the world food supply nothing else will grow thanks to Monsanto, we will truly have The Hunger Games in reality. This is their goal.
Warmly,
Lynn

There is better ways maybe more expensive but better ways then lethal chemicals

This is a perfect example of the downside of capitalism where corporate greed and the quest for ever increasing profits trumps all other considerations.

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