Stand With Moby to Save Our Bees

Center for Food Safety     

“Bees are directly responsible for one in three bites
of food we eat. We NEED them." 
- Moby | Musician, DJ, Activist


Many of the foods we need for healthy diets require bees for pollination, including many of our favorite fruits, vegetables and nuts. We have honey bees to thank for one out of every three bites of food we eat! But over the past decade we have witnessed alarming declines of honey bees. In fact, the number of managed honey bee colonies in the U.S. has dropped from over 5 million in 1940 to less than 2.5 million today. And while the honey bee is the primary pollinating species our food crops depend upon, native species of other bees and insects are also essential - without these species 70% of plants would be unable to reproduce or provide food. Unfortunately, these native pollinators are also in trouble. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service now lists nearly 40 pollinator species as threatened or endangered, and several more are currently being considered.It goes without saying that healthy bee populations are directly linked to our food security. But we don't just need bees for food. Bees are also an indicator species - meaning their presence, absence, and well-being is indicative of the health of our environment as a whole. So the plight of the bees is our plight as well.


There are a number of different stressors facing pollinators, including habitat loss, parasites and diseases. But over the last several years, scientists have increasingly attributed pollinator declines to the indiscriminate use of systemic pesticides, most notably a class of insecticides known as neonicotinoids.Neonicotinoids are up to 10,000 times more toxic to bees than other insecticides, and their use can have both immediate and long-term effects. This is because unlike traditional pesticides that are typically applied to the surface of plants, neonicotinoids are systemic – meaning they are absorbed and distributed throughout the entire plant system, including pollen and nectar (a big problem for bees). Viruses and pests have always been an issue for bees, but for decades beekeepers had been able to keep bee colony losses to 10-15%. In the early to mid-2000s – around the same time neonicotinoids gained a large share of the insecticide market and their use skyrocketed – this all changed. So while these bee-toxic pesticides are not the only cause of declining bee populations, they are a primary contributing factor and certainly one we must do something about—and fast. 


To protect pollinators, we need to shift away from the pesticide-intensive industrial agriculture system we currently rely on in the U.S. and move towards organic and other forms of sustainable ecological farming that are protective of wildlife, people, and the environment. We must also take swift action to protect bees from the most lethal bee-killing pesticides. In April 2013, the European Union declared a two-year ban on certain neonicotinoids across the continent on crops that are attractive to bees – as well as banning the sale of products containing these pesticides. If Europe can do it, so can the United States, and we must all put pressure on the U.S. government to follow Europe's lead in protecting pollinators. We can also take action in our own backyards – literally. From our backyards and gardens to schools, public parks and farms – all of these areas play a crucial role in ensuring healthy and vibrant pollinator populations. We must work together to eliminate bee-killing pesticides and seed coatings on the farm and at home, and create pollinator-friendly habitats to help reverse their plight.

"If insects were to vanish, the environment would collapse into chaos”

- Edward O. Wilson


Plant bee-friendly plants in your yard or garden

It’s easy to have a bee-friendly yard or garden. Bees love just about all flowering plants, but there are a few that are particularly beneficial for bees that grow well across the U.S.:

  • Chokecherry
  • Rosemary
  • Western Yarrow
  • Black-Eyed Susan
  • Common Milkweed
  • Mint
  • Linden Tree
  • Goldenrod
  • Sunflower
  • Coneflower

Avoid bee-toxic pesticides at home

It’s best for the bees (and for you) to avoid using toxic pesticides in your yard and garden, but if you do use chemicals in your yard or garden, look out for these common bee-toxic ingredients in products and avoid them:
  • Imidacloprid
  • Thiamethoxam
  • Clothianidin
  • Dinotefuran
  • Acetamiprid

Go organic to be bee-friendly

When shopping for plants for your yard or garden avoid plants that aren’t organic as many of them are pre-treated with chemicals that are harmful to bees.
Buy organic food as much as possible to support farming methods that avoid bee-toxic chemicals and pesticide-promoting genetically engineered crops.

Related Hunting Post Article:

Syngenta asks US EPA to Raise Tolerance Level for Thiamethoxam

Agro News         September 10, 2014

Syngenta has petitioned U.S. EPA to increase the legal tolerance for a neonicotinoid pesticide (thiamethoxam) residue in several crops. The petition would apply to alfalfa, barley, corn and wheat, both the crop itself and the straw and stover left over after cultivation. Syngenta is seeking to increase the levels from as low as 1.5 times for stover from sweet corn to as much as 400 times for hay from wheat.

Syngenta is seeking to change the tolerance levels because the company wants to use thiamethoxam as a leaf spray -- rather than just a seed treatment -- to treat late- to midseason insect pests, said Ann Bryan, a spokeswoman for the company.

Seed treatments are systemic, meaning the insecticide travels through the entire plant, including the pollen. But foliar treatments are more likely to stick to the leaf, where risk to pollinators decreases.

"Growers depend on neonicotinoids and other crop protection products to increase crop productivity," said Bryan in an email. "Syngenta is committed to biodiversity, including thriving pollinators."

Scientists say neonicotinoids can suppress bees' immune systems, making them more vulnerable to viruses and bacteria. The Fish and Wildlife Service agreed to phase out neonicotinoids on wildlife refuges nationwide starting in January 2016.

The increased residues could become a problem if farmers are spraying thiamethoxam at a time when alfalfa is blooming, said Reed Johnson, a bee toxicologist and an associate professor of entomology at Ohio State University. But most commercial growers cut alfalfa before it makes flowers and pollen.

Switching from a systemic pesticide to a leaf spray can be a relatively good thing for bees, said Johnson, but if the spray drifts to other flowers nearby, pollinators could be exposed anyway.

EPA is accepting comments on the proposed changes, as well as amended tolerances for several other pesticides, until Oct. 6.

Live Chat: What's the Buzz About?:

What's the Buzz About?:  A conversation about bee declines, impacts on our food system & what you can do about it.

TODAY: June 16, 2014: Tune into the live stream by going to at 6pm PT / 9pm ET. And don't forget to submit your questions during the event via Twitter with the hashtag #BeeChat!

Thanks for for joining us for this important conversation.

Bees are responsible for one in three bites of food we eat, and their numbers are declining across the country. And these die-offs point to larger challenges facing our increasingly industrial food system.

As we kick off National Pollinator Week, please join the Berkeley Food Institute and Pesticide Action Network for a lively discussion with scientists, beekeepers and journalists about what's driving bee declines, what it means to our food and farming system and what we can do about it.

The event will be streamed live online. RSVP here to receive the link in an email & join the discussion! And don't forget to submit questions via Twitter during the event with the hashtag #BeeChat.

Co-sponsored by Beyond Pesticides, Center for Food Safety and TakePart.


Todd Woody, senior editor for environment and wildlife, TakePart (moderator)

Mr. Woody is the senior editor for environment and wildlife at TakePart, the digital news arm of Los Angeles film production company Participant Media. He previously covered environmental and green tech issues as a contributor to The New York Times, The Atlantic, Quartz and other publications. 

Susan Kegley, PhD, CEO, Pesticide Research Institute

Dr. Kegley is a hobbyist beekeeper, chemist and CEO of Pesticide Research Institute, where she conducts research and environmental monitoring on pesticides, and has acted as an expert consultant to groups from Pesticide Action Network to the Pollinator Stewardship Council.

Gene Brandi, beekeeper and vice-president, American Beekeeping Federation

Mr. Brandi began his commercial beekeeping business in 1978 and has been active in leadership of various beekeeping organizations, including serving as President and Legislative Chairman of the California State Beekeepers Association Board of Directors, serving on the National Honey Board and on the American Beekeeping Federation Board of Directors, including currently as the Vice – President. 

Claire Kremen, PhD, Co-Director, Berkeley Food Institute

Dr. Kremen is a Professor of Environmental Science, Policy and Management at University of California, Berkeley.Her current research focuses on exploring the ecological, social and economic benefits, costs and barriers to adoption of diversified farming systems, and on restoring pollination and pest control services in intensively farmed landscapes.

Event Location

Berkeley Food Institute - live streaming online 

If you're in the Berkeley area and would like to join the event in person, please RSVP to
More info:

Take Action Reminder: Deadline June 16, 2014

Highways BEE Act: H.R. 4790 was introduced by Reps Alcee Hastings (D-FL) and Jeff Denham (R-CA) on May 30 and is strongly supported by the Pollinator Partnership (P2). Hastings and Denham are co-chairs of the Congressional Pollinator Protection Caucus (CP2C). 

Click Here for Additional Background. More information is also provided below the letter.

POLLINATOR ACTION REQUEST: You can help honey bees, monarch butterflies and other pollinators by signing on to group letterbelow as ORGANIZATION and/or as INDIVIDUAL.

Deadline ASAP, and by June 16—the first day of National Pollinator Week!

Who Can Sign: 
Organizations at all levels and types (national, state, local)
Researchers, other individuals

Forward this Opportunity: To others who may be interested. Spreading the word helps! Can either forward this e-mail, or include this link with your personal note: 


The undersigned support H.R. 4790, the Highways Bettering the Economy and Environment Pollinator Protection Act (Highways BEE Act).

Pollinators, such as honey bees and native pollinators, birds, bats, and butterflies, are essential to healthy ecosystems and are vital partners in American agriculture. Honey bees, monarch butterflies and other native pollinators are suffering drastic population losses, due in part to loss of habitat. 

Highway right-of-ways (ROWs) managed by State Departments of Transportation (State DOTs) represent about 17 million acres of opportunity where significant economic and conservation/environmental benefits can be achieved through integrated vegetation management (IVM) practices, that can—

Significantly reduce mowing and maintenance costs for State DOTs, and

Help create habitat, forage and migratory corridors that will contribute to the health of honey bees, monarch butterflies and other native pollinators, as well as ground nesting birds and other small wildlife.

Neighboring agricultural lands and wildlife ecosystems will benefit through improved pollination services.

The Highways BEE Act directs the Secretary of Transportation to use existing authorities, programs and funding to encourage and facilitate IVM and pollinator habitat efforts by willing State DOTs and other transportation ROWs managers, building on innovative IVM efforts in a growing number of State DOTs.

The Trouble with Beekeeping in the Anthropocene  By  @bryanrwalsh  8/9/13

The beepocalypse is on the cover of TIME, but it looks like managed honeybees will still pull through. Wild bees—and wild species in general—won't be so lucky in a human-dominated planet

I’ve written this week’s cover story for the magazine, on the growing threat to honeybees. You can read it (with a subscription) over here. The short version: beginning nearly a decade ago, honeybees started dying off at unusually and mysteriously high rates—this past winter, nearly one-third of U.S. honeybee colonies died or disappeared. At first this appeared due to something called colony collapse disorder (CCD); hives would be abandoned without warning, with bees seemingly leaving honey and intact wax behind. The apocalyptic nature of CCD—some people really thought the disappearance of the bees indicated that the Rapture was nigh—grabbed the public’s attention. More recently, beekeepers have been seeing fewer cases of CCD proper, but honeybees keep dying and bees keep collapsing. That’s bad for our food system—bees add at least $15 billion in crop value through pollination in the U.S. alone, and if colony losses keep up, those pollination demands may not be met and valuable crops like almonds could wither.

More than the bottom line for grocery stores, though, the honeybee’s plight alarms us because a species that we have tended and depended on for thousands of years is dying—and we don’t really know why. Tom Theobald, a beekeeper and blogger who has raised the alarm about CCD, put that fear this way: “The bees are just the beginning.” 

But while we don’t now we exactly what causes CCD or why honeybees are dying in larger numbers, we do know the suspects: pesticides, including the newer class of neonicotinoids that seem to affect bees even at very low levels; biological threats like the vampiric Varroa mite; and the lack of nutrition thanks to monocultures of commodity crops like wheat and corn, which offer honeybees little in the way of the pollen they need to survive. Most likely, bee deaths are due to a mix of all of those menaces acting together—pesticides and lack of food might weaken honeybees, and pests like Varroa could finish them off, spreading diseases the bees don’t have the strength to resist. Unfortunately, that means there’s no simple way to save the honeybees either. Simply banning, say, neonicotinoids might take some of the pressure off honeybees, but most scientists agree it wouldn’t solve the problem. (And getting rid of neonicotinoids would have unpredictable consequences for agriculture—the pesticides were adopted in part because they are considered safer for mammals, including human beings.) Honeybees are suffering because we’ve created a world that is increasingly inhospitable to them.

Still, for all the alarm, honeybees are likely to pull through. As I point out in the magazine piece, beekeepers have mostly managed to replace lost colonies, though at a cost high enough that some long-time beekeepers are getting out of the business altogether. Beekeepers are buying new queens and splitting their hives, which cuts into productivity and honey production, but keeps their colony numbers high enough to so far meet pollination demands. They’re adding supplemental feed—often sugar or corn syrup—to compensate for the lack of wild forage. The scientific and agricultural community is engaged—see Monsanto’s recent honeybee summit, and the company’s work on a genetic weapon against the Varroa mite. Randy Oliver, a beekeeper and independent researcher, told me that he could see honeybees becoming a feedlot animal like pigs or chickens, bred and kept for one purpose and having their food brought to them, rather than foraging in the semi-wild way they live now. That sounds alarming—and it’s not something anyone in the beekeeping industry would like to see—but it’s also important to remember that honeybees themselves aren’t exactly natural, especially in North America, where they were imported by European settlers in the 17th century. As Hannah Nordhaus, the author of the great book A Beekeeper’s Lamenthas written, honeybees have always been much more dependent on human beings than the other way around.

The reality is that honeybees are very useful to human beings, and species that are very useful to us—think domesticated animals and pets—tend to do OK in the increasingly human-dominated world we call the Anthropocene. But other wild species aren’t so lucky—and that includes the thousands of species of wild bees and other non-domesticated pollinators. Bumblebees have experienced recent and rapid population loss in the U.S., punctuated by a mass pesticide poisoning in Oregon this past June that led to the deaths of some 50,000 bumblebees. A 2006 report by the National Academies of Science concluded that the populations of many other wild pollinators—especially wild bees—was trending “demonstrably downward.” The threats are much the same ones faced by managed honeybees: pesticides, lack of wild forage, parasites and disease. The difference is that there are thousands of human beings who make it their business to care for and prop up the populations of honeybees. No one is doing the same thing for wild bees. The supposed beepocalypse is on the cover of TIME magazine, but “you don’t hear about the decline of hundreds of species of wild bees,” says Jennifer Sass, a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

That’s meant almost literally—we don’t hear them anymore. The plight of the bees illustrates our outsized influence on the this planet as we reshape it—consciously and not—to meet our immediate needs. But just because we have this power doesn’t mean we fully understand it, or our impact on our own world. We are a species that increasingly has omnipotence without omniscience. That’s a dangerous combination for the animals and plants that share this planet with us.  And eventually, it will be dangerous for us, too.

(PHOTOS: The Bee, Magnified: Microscopic Photography by Rose-Lynn Fisher)

(MORE: Behind the Bee’s Knees: The Origins of Nine Bee-Inspired Sayings)

Read more:

Link to Time Article,9171,2149141,00.html#ixzz2bgDT9cAq

Time Magazine Envisions a World Without Honeybees  By Liz Judge  8/11/13

TIME Magazine's cover this week depicts a single bee, its wings flapping in frenzied motion on a stark black background. It forebodingly reads, "A WORLD WITHOUT BEES: THE PRICE WE'LL PAY IF WE DON'T FIGURE OUT WHAT'S KILLING THE HONEYBEE".

The article by Bryan Walsh addresses a disastrous phenomenon that could tumble the basis of our food system: the widespread collapse of honeybee colonies nationwide known as "colony collapse disorder." Honeybees across the nation have been dying at rates unseen in history. To say that the bees are dropping like flies, well, it's an affront to the necessity of bees in our food systems and economy. It's hard to talk about colony collapse disorder and not sound Doomsday-ish. And that's because, as Walsh reveals, one-third of the food on our tables is there because of honeybees, which polinate a wide array of the foods we love and need, and their survival is required to fuel our both our bodies and our economy. Forget about berries, fruits, many vegetables if we fail to address this honeybee crisis.

The article illustrates the stakes—what can happen if we lose even more honeybees: The example Walsh singles out is California's $4 billion almond crop, which could fail, and he calls up a powerful demonstration in which a Whole Foods in Rhode Island removed from its produce section all of the foods that exist because of honeybees: 237 out of 453 food items vanished, reports Walsh.

He then asks the necessary question: What's killing them? The TIME article does include a lot of scientific navel-gazing. Much of the mainstream media coverage around honeybee colony collapse just stops there, with scientists scratching their heads, asking questions and spinning a mystery. But, thankfully, Walsh digs into the role of pesticides in all of it. He reports on the lethal effects on bees of a class of pesticides called neonicotinoids, or "neonics" for short.

Neonics are highly toxic to bees. Science shows that these pesticides could be the reason for the widespread die-off, and if these pesticides aren't killing the bees directly, they are likely causing them to lose their way back to the beehive, so they get lost and starve.

But the problem of pesticides is actually morphing and growing as big industrial chemical companies develop and rush to market numerous new types of pesticide chemicals; and those dangerous, new chemicals and pesticides are being rubberstamped for approval by the Environment Protection Agency. Earlier this year, the EPA approved another bee-killing pesticide called Sulfoxaflor. Sulfoxaflor is shown to be “highly toxic” to honey bees and other insect pollinators. Sulfoxaflor is a new chemistry and the first of a newly assigned sub-class of pesticides in the “neonicotinoid” class of pesticides, which some scientists have linked as a potential factor to widespread colony collapse.

The doubt some scientists are casting on the role of these toxic chemicals in colony collapse is unconvincing to many beekeepers across the country, who have observed it all first-hand and know the patterns better than anyone. And these beekeepers have seen all they need to see in their struggle to keep their businesses alive and survive financially. They are so concerned with the effects of pesticides on their industry that they haveenlisted Earthjustice as their lawyers in taking the last-resort action of suing the EPA for continuing to approve pesticides like neonics. Anything but a litigious crowd, the beekeepers feel there's no other recourse to save their struggling industry.

They say that by approving this and other pesticides, or even by providing scant information for farmers about how they should apply the pesticides to protect the honeybees, the EPA is dooming their industry. And they have tried and tried to get EPA to take a close look at the repercussions of these chemicals not only on the beekeeping industry but also on our food systems.

Rick Smith, beekeeper and farmer and Earthjustice client in the lawsuit, when we filed the lawsuit in July, said:

The beekeeping industry has proactively engaged EPA to address concerns for many years. The industry is seriously concerned the comments it submitted during the Sulfoxaflor registration comment period were not adequately addressed before EPA granted full registration.

The sun is now rising on a day where pollinators are no longer plentiful.

Randy Verhoek, President of the Board of the American Honey Producers Association, added:

The bee industry has had to absorb an unreasonable amount of damage in the last decade. Projected losses for our industry this year alone are over $337 million.

Explained Bret Adee, President of the Board of the National Pollinator Defense Fund:

The EPA is charged with preventing unreasonable risk to our livestock, our livelihoods, and most importantly, the nation’s food supply.

This situation requires an immediate correction from the EPA to ensure the survival of commercial pollinators, native pollinators, and the plentiful supply of seed, fruits, vegetables, and nuts that pollinators make possible.

We got involved in this case because the stakes are tremendously high. As Earthjustice attorney Janette Brimmer put it:

The effects will be devastating to our nation’s food supply and also to the beekeeping industry, which is struggling because of toxic pesticides.

This lawsuit against the EPA is an attempt by the beekeepers to save their suffering industry. The EPA has failed them.

And the EPA’s failure to adequately consider impacts to pollinators from these new pesticides is wreaking havoc on an important agricultural industry and gives short shrift to the requirements of the law.

Stay with us as we fight to save beekeepers and their bees, our nation's food supplies, and the future of our country, which depends on a sustainable and healthy food system.

Bill Seeks To Halt Bee-Killing Pesticides in U.S.

Global Issues  By Matthew Charles Cardinale (Atlanta, Georgia) 7/29/13

ATLANTA, Georgia, Jul 29 (IPS) - Two Congressional Democrats have co-sponsored new legislation called the Save America's Pollinators Act of 2013 to take emergency action to save the remaining bees in the U.S., and in turn, the U.S. food supply.

At issue is the use of toxic insecticides called neonicotinoids. Recent studies suggest that at least four types of these insecticides are a primary cause of the massive decline in bee populations seen in the U.S. in recent years.3

It is estimated over 10 million beehives been wiped out since 2007, as part of a phenomenon known as Colony Collapse Disorder.

"Given that EPA allowed many of these insecticides on the market without adequate safety assessments and without adequate field studies on their impact to pollinator health, we feel it's time that Congress support a bill like the Conyers-Blumenauer bill, which would suspend the use of the neonicotinoids until EPA does the adequate science to prove that these neonicotinoids… are not harmful - and if they are harmful, to keep them off the market," Colin O'Neil, director for government affairs for the Centre for Food Safety, told IPS.

"One-third of food that's reliant on the honeybee pollination is really under threat, and threats to pollinators concern the entire food system," O'Neil said.

During the last winter alone, which began in 2012 and ended early this year, U.S. beekeepers lost 45.1 percent of the colonies they operate, with some beekeepers losing 100 percent, according to a government-sponsored study.

The European Union has already imposed a two-year moratorium on several types of neonicotinoids, after the European Food Safety Authority found in January 2013 that certain neonicotinoids were threatening Europe's bee populations.

In May 2013, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a joint study noting that, "Acute and sublethal effects of pesticides on honey bees have been increasingly documented, and are a primary concern."

The proposed legislation, by Rep. John Conyers and Rep. Earl Blumenauer, would require the EPA to suspend the use of at least four neonicotinoids, including imidacloprid, clothianidin, thiamethoxam, and dinotafuran.

The legislation would prevent the EPA from re-authorising the use of the chemicals as pesticides until the agency conducts a full review of the scientific evidence. It would have to determine there are no unreasonable adverse effects on bees or other pollinators or beneficial insects before allowing them back on the market.

Through their pollination activities, by which bees allow plants to reproduce, bees are responsible for over 125 billion dollars in global food production, including over 20 billion dollars in the U.S., according to the legislation's findings.

"Neonicotinoids cause sublethal effects including impaired foraging and feeding behavior, disorientation, weakened immunity, delayed larval development, and increased susceptibility to viruses, diseases, and parasites and numerous studies have also demonstrated acute, lethal effects from the application of neonicotinoid insecticides," the legislation states.

"Recent science has demonstrated that a single corn kernel coated with a neonicotinoid is toxic enough to kill a songbird," it says.

In June 2013, over 50,000 bumblebees were killed in Wilsonville, Oregon, as a direct result of exposure to a neonicotinoid that was used not as a pesticide, but to cosmetically improve the appearance of certain trees.

So many bees have already died in the U.S. that just one more bad winter here could cause a major food crisis, one U.S. Department of Agriculture scientist said in the recent report.

O'Neil notes the U.S. House recently approved an amendment to the Farm Bill that would establish an interagency consultation process on pollinator protection, and would establish a task force to address bee decline.

"Passage of that was the first indicator this summer that members of congress were really waking up to this issue," O'Neil said.

"We feel this bill is necessary because the bees are dying now, and we can't wait four years down the road to come to the conclusion that pesticides are killing bees," he said.

The Centre for Food Safety recently sent an email to their members asking them to contact Gina McCarthy, the new head of the EPA, to encourage her to take action to benefit bees. McCarthy is believed to be a strong proponent of environmental stewardship.

"We're hoping she's going to be a better steward of bee health at the EPA than her predecessor was," O'Neil said.

One of the neonicotinoids was conditionally registered for agricultural uses by the EPA in 2003, based on the fact that it was already registered as an insecticide for non-agricultural uses.

"So they allowed it to be conditionally registered without a field study on the condition this field study would still be received. Ten years later this requirement has never been met and the EPA continues to allow the use," O'Neil said.

Scott Hoffman Black, executive director of the Xerxes Society, an organisation that advocates on behalf of invertebrates, told IPS, "The important fact about , they're systemic, they're inside the plant. Others go straight on the plant, and the rain would wash it off after. It's in the roots, it's in the stem, it's in the flower, it's in the flower nectar."

When asked what would happen to te U.S. diet if there was a bee collapse large enough to eliminate pollination across the nation, Hoffman Black said that crops like wheat and corn, which do not require pollination, would still be available.

"Vegetables, fruits, nuts, all things that are highly nutritious and taste really good," would be eliminated, Hoffman Black said. "We would have rice and wheat.

"Our ecosystems are based on pollination of native bees; everything from grizzly bears to songbirds rely on food that rely on pollination," he said.


© Inter Press Service (2013) — All Rights ReservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service

Congress, Pull bee-toxic pesticides off the market

Pesticide Action Network  1/17/13

Good news! Representatives John Conyers (D-MI) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) have introduced the "Save America's Pollinators Act," a bill that will require EPA to pull bee-toxic neonicotinoid pesticides from the market until their safety is proven.

Urge your Representative to support this critical bill.

Scientists tell us that "neonics" are a key contributing factor to dramatic bee die-offs. Yet these insecticides continue to be widely used, and EPA won't take action until after its review is complete in 2018. Meanwhile bees continue dying off in droves, with beekeepers reporting losses between 40-70% this year.

The Save America's Pollinators Act (H.R. 2692) would suspend use of neonicotinoid pesticides until a full review of scientific evidence — and field studies — demonstrate no harmful impacts to pollinators. This is the fighting chance our honey bees need.

Contact your Representative now!

Farm Bill's Good and Bad Sides

(The following is brought to us by CATCH THE BUZZ (Kim Flottum) Bee Culture, The Magazine of American Beekeeping, published by A.I. Root Company.)

May 24, 2013 

From Michele Colopy, Program Director, National Pollinator Defense Fund

As you know the Farm Bill is working its way through Congress. What is surprising are the number of amendments (there are now over 300). Some are positive, and others appear problematic. Though not all amendments make it to the final Farm Bill please take time to read the following:   

The positive: Senator Barbara Boxer has proposed the following amendment that would:

1.   Create an interagency task force on bee health and commercial beekeeping

2.   Encourage a more proactive approach to protecting pollinator health at U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, U.S. Dept. of the Interior, and the Environmental Protection Agency; and

3.    Require feasibility studies for modernizing one current ARS honey bee research laboratory, and establishing one new ARS pollinator research laboratory.

(See the attached Boxer amendment)

The problematic:

Senate Amendment 984. Senator Fischer, Senator Carper, and Senator Johanns submitted an amendment intended to be proposed by Senator Fischer to Senate bill 954, to reauthorize agricultural programs through 2018; which was ordered to lie on the table; as follows: on page 1050, after line 23, her amendment would add the following:


Section 17(c) of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (7 U.S.C. 136o(c)) is amended-- (1) by striking ``The Secretary'' and inserting the following:``(1) In general.--The Secretary''; and (2) by adding at the end the following:``(2) Importation of seed.--For purposes of this   subsection, seed, including treated seed,shall not be considered to be a pesticide or device. ``(3) Applicability.--Nothing in this subsection precludes or limits the authority of the Secretary of Agriculture with respect to the importation or movement of plants, plant products, or seeds under-- ``(A) the Plant Protection Act (7 U.S.C. 7701 et seq.); and ``(B) the Federal Seed Act (7 U.S.C. 1551 et seq.).''.

Regrettably there have been incidences of bee kills when seed treatment dust has killed bee hives.  It appears that item number 2 of the Fischer amendment codifies seed treatments as a non-application of pesticides. The Farm Bill is moving fast through the Congress.  If seed treatments are not regulated as a “pesticide,” what will be the recourse for bee kills such as the one recently in Minnesota.  For video results of this bee kill select this link,

The Farm Bill reauthorization and amendments such as the Boxer Amendment, and the line concerning seed treatments will be voted upon soon, possibly before the Memorial Day Weekend recess.  Please call or email your Senators and Representatives today, and voice your opinions. 




Honey Bee Die Offs Caused by Multiple Factors Including Pesticides

Moyers & Company  By Theresa Riley  5/2/13

A federal study released today attributes the massive die-off in American honey bee colonies to a combination of factors, including pesticides, poor diet, parasites and a lack of genetic diversity. Nearly a third of honey bee colonies in the United States have been wiped out since 2006. The estimated value of crops lost if bees were no longer able to pollinate fruits and vegetables is around $15 billion.

The report comes on the heels of an announcement Monday by the European Union that they are...


Beekeepers and Public Interest Groups Sue EPA Over Bee-Toxic Pesticides

Bee Culture - Catch the Buzz   By Kim Flottum     3/21/13

Lawsuit seeks to address bee Colony Collapse Disorder and demands EPA protect livelihoods, rural economies and environment

Today, a year after groups formally petitioned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), four beekeepers and five environmental and consumer groups filed a lawsuit in Federal District Court against the agency for its failure to protect pollinators from dangerous pesticides.  The coalition, represented by attorneys for the Center for Food Safety (CFS), seeks suspension of the registrations of insecticides that have repeatedly been identified as highly toxic to honey bees, clear causes of major bee kills and significant contributors to the devastating ongoing mortality of bees known as colony collapse disorder (CCD).  The suit challenges EPA’s ongoing handling of the pesticides as well as the agency’s practice of “conditional registration” and labeling deficiencies. 

“America’s beekeepers cannot survive for long with the toxic environment EPA has supported. Bee-toxic pesticides in dozens of widely used products, on top of many other stresses our industry faces, are killing our bees and threatening our livelihoods,” said plaintiff Steve Ellis, a Minnesota and California beekeeper. “Our country depends on bees for crop pollination and honey production.  It’s time for EPA to recognize the value of bees to our food system and agricultural economy.” 

The suit comes on the heels of a challenging season for California’s almond farmers, who produce 80% of the world’s almonds.  Almond growers rely on beekeepers to bring literally billions of bees from across the country to pollinate their orchards.  However, many beekeepers are reporting losses of over 50% this year and the shortages have left many California almond growers without enough bees to effectively pollinate their trees.  This is a vivid demonstration of why the Plaintiffs are demanding EPA to classify these bee-toxic pesticides as an “imminent hazard” and move swiftly to restrict their use.     

The pesticides involved — clothianidin and thiamethoxam — are “neonicotinoids,” a newer class of systemic insecticides that are absorbed by plants and transported throughout the plant’s vascular tissue, making the plant potentially toxic to insects.  Clothianidin and thiamethoxam first came into heavy use in the mid-2000s, at the same time beekeepers started observing widespread cases of colony losses, leaving beekeepers unable to recoup their losses.

“Beekeepers and environmental and consumer groups have demonstrated time and time again over the last several years that EPA needs to protect bees.  The agency has refused, so we’ve been compelled to sue,” said Center for Food Safety attorney, Peter T. Jenkins.  “EPA’s unlawful actions should convince the Court to suspend the approvals for clothianidin and thiamethoxam products until those violations are resolved.”

The case also challenges the use of so-called “conditional registrations” for these pesticides, which expedites commercialization by bypassing meaningful premarket review.  Since 2000, over two-thirds of pesticide products, including clothianidin and thiamethoxam, have been brought to market as conditional registrations.

“Pesticide manufacturers use conditional registrations to rush bee-toxic products to market, with little public oversight,” said Paul Towers, a spokesperson for Pesticide Action Network. “As new independent research comes to light, the agency has been slow to re-evaluate pesticide products and its process, leaving bees exposed to an ever-growing load of hazardous pesticides.”

In addition, the plaintiffs challenge the inadequacies of existing pesticide labels meant to ensure environmental and health protections.  “EPA has ignored its responsibility to protect bees by allowing impractical labels and lax enforcement,” said Jay Feldman, Executive Director of Beyond Pesticides. “Despite clear evidence and on-the-ground feedback to the contrary, EPA has failed to ensure that bees, birds and ecosystems are protected.”

Independent scientists have assessed the effects of clothianidin and thiamethoxam on honey bee colony health and development, examining both sub-lethal exposure effects and acute risks. Scientists have also identified massive data gaps that prevent accurate assessments as to their continued safety, not just for honey bees but for ecosystem integrity on the whole.  A major new report issued this week by the American Bird Conservancy, The Impact of the Nation’s Most Widely Used Insecticides on Birdssounds dire warnings about EPA’s failures to assess threats to birds and to the aquatic ecosystems many species depend upon. 

In March 2012, CFS and a coalition of prominent beekeepers, along with Pesticide Action Network and Beyond Pesticides filed an Emergency Petition with the EPA asking the agency to suspend the use of clothianidin.  Yet, a year later, the agency has refused and indicated it will not finish its Registration Review for clothianidin and thiamethoxam, as well as other neonicotinoids, until 2018.

Plaintiffs include four beekeepers, Steve Ellis of Old Mill Honey Co. (MN, CA), Jim Doan of Doan Family Farms (NY), Tom Theobald of Niwot Honey Farm (CO) and Bill Rhodes of Bill Rhodes Honey (FL) as well as Beyond Pesticides, Center for Food Safety, Pesticide Action Network North America, Sierra Club, and the Center for Environmental Health.

This ezine is also available online at

(The above is brought to us by CATCH THE BUZZ (Kim Flottum) Bee Culture, The Magazine of American Beekeeping, published by A.I. Root Company.)

Packin' the Plum Pollen

        Bug Squad - Happenings in the Insect World   By Kathy Keatley Garvey   3/13/13 

Ever watched an in-flight honey bee packing her load of pollen? 

A foraging bee carries her ball-like load of pollen on her hind legs and continually moistens it with a little nectar. The size and shape changes as she works. Sometimes you'll see BB-sized loads and at other times the pellets seem as large as beach balls. The color varies, depending on the color of the pollen she collects.

In the UC Agricultural and Natural Resources (UC ANR) publication, Beekeeping in...


Visit the Kathy Keatley Garvey Bug Squad blog at:

Visit the Kathy Keatley Garvey website at:

Save the Date to Save the Bees!

Center for Food Safety

Where have the bees gone? The unchecked use of dangerous pesticides has resulted in alarming honey bee losses around the world and right here at home. Yet EPA refuses to suspend their use, and pollinators and our environment are paying the price. Please join us on Thursday, October 25 at 12 Noon to tell EPA that they must take action. Save the Bees Now!

 Join Us for a Rally at EPA

WHEN: Thursday, October 25th from 12 Noon to 1pm

WHERE: Outside of EPA Headquarters 340 12th St NW, Washington, DC

Rally will feature speakers from various nonprofit and environmental organizations, commercial and urban beekeepers, film documentarians and more.

Download the flyer!

Center for Food Safety | Beyond Pesticides | PAN North America | Sierra Club

Governor Brown signed the Homemade Food Act into law!!

The law will go into effect in January.

Read more at: The Sustainable Economics Law Center where you can download a copy of the full bill. 

SELC is planning to create a legal resource guide to answer some of the frequently asked questions that come up from aspiring food producers interested in taking advantage of this new law. They also plan to work with county health departments around the state to make sure that this law gets properly implemented. 

(The above was provided by CSBA Sec/Treas, Carlen Jupe.)

EPA Announces Partial Response to Petition - Act by 9/25/12

Beyond Pesticides   9/25/12
EPA Thinks Pollinators Should Buzz Off! Take Action by September 25, 2012
EPA’s recent decision to deny the petition recognizing that honey bees face “imminent hazard” and requesting the suspension of the pesticide linked to bee die-offs is a blow to beekeepers and over one million citizen petition signatures worldwide. This decision puts beekeepers, rural economies, and our food system at risk. EPA believes the bees are alright, but with hives still averaging losses over 30%, bees are crying out for help. With one in three bites of food reliant on honey bee pollination, it’s imperative that EPA act now! Comments must be received on or before September 25, 2012.

Tell EPA to suspend the use of the bee-killer clothianidin and protect pollinators! 

Letting EPA know what you think is your right!

To have the most impact, EPA needs to hear directly from you with your comment in the docket! Email communications on this is not as effective and often do not get read or counted. 

Please submit your comments directly to the docket by using the link provided. Click the link and tell EPA what you think in the form provided Please note that only fields with an asterisk are required, and if you are not affiliated with an organization, you may put your own name in the Submitter's Representative field (if you are still having problems, click here). You can use the sample comment as a guide, or you can copy/paste the sample comment below into the form in the docket. Once you are done editing your comments, click the submit button and you are done!

Bees Need Immediate Action - Bees Can't Wait Until 2018

Pesticide Action Network   9/19/12

The good news? Congress is starting to look into EPA’s failure to protect honey bees from pesticides. A few senators recently sent a letter to Lisa Jackson urging the Agency to take swift action, asking for a “more finite and expedited timeline” than 2018.

The bad news is that EPA is still stalling.

Help us get the message across: Bee die-offs are an emergency and need action now.

Last March — alongside partners and beekeepers, and with your support — we filed an “emergency citizen petition” on behalf of bees. In June, we submitted tens of thousands of your signatures to the Agency in support of that petition. We urged them to take seriously the unprecedented decline of pollinators, and the contribution of neonicotinoid pesticides to that decline, by declaring that these losses constitute an “imminent hazard.” They declined to do so.

Before next Tuesday, we have an opportunity to respond to EPA's recent decision that pollinator declines don't present an imminent hazard.

Join us in telling EPA that, in fact:

  • Bee die-offs are an emergency requiring immediate action — and 2018 is much too late!
  • Keeping a bee-toxic pesticide (clothianidin) on the market illegally — despite the absence of valid science supporting its registration — is unacceptable.

Between now and September 25, decisionmakers are legally required to listen. Please help us make our collective voices heard and send a clear message to EPA: stop stalling.

Take Action at PANNA

See our LACBA Petitions and Legislation Page 

Tell EPA Honey Bees Can't Wait - Ban Clothianidin

The pesticide clothianidin may be killing our honey bees off by the billions, destroying a key species and endangering our food supply in the process.

The EPA wants to wait until 2018 to review the safety of this suspiciously approved pesticide but our honey bees can't wait 6 more years. And every bee colony that collapses threatens the future of our food supply...

France, Italy, Slovenia, and Germany have already banned clothianidin over concerns of its role in Colony Collapse Disorder.

Ask the EPA to ban the use of this pesticide without delay.

Michelle Obama, Tell Barack to Honor His Campaign Promise to Label GMO's

By Organic Consumers Association (Contact)

To be delivered to: Michelle Obama, First Lady

Michelle, tell President Obama to honor his campaign promise to require GMO labeling and ask him to endorse California's Proposition 37, a citizens' ballot initiative to label GMOs. Michelle Obama is a champion of better nutrition in school lunches and of ending childhood obesity. Which makes it all the more disappointing that her husband, President Obama, has failed to keep his campaign promise to support GMO labeling. 

On the campaign trail in 2007, candidate Barack Obama said: “We’ll let folks know whether their food has been genetically modified because Americans should know what they’re buying.” 

But since becoming President, Obama has...

EPA Wants To Hear What You Think Of Clothianidin

Remember, Democracy is Decided by those who show up. Read the information, go to the web page and put in your comments. 

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY: Clothianidin; Emergency Petition To Suspend; Notice of Availability

SUMMARY: PANNA and others submitted a request for the EPA to immediately suspend Clothianidin and take other actions affecting the registration. The EPA is announcing the decision to deny the suspension request and is inviting the public to comment on the decision and the remainder of the petition. Read more...

DATES: Comments must be received on or before September 25, 2012.


(The above brought us by CATCH THE BUZZ (Kim Flottum) Bee Culture, The Magazine of American Beekeeping, published by A.I. Root Company.) 

NY Senator Gillibrand Asks Feds to Speed Review of Pesticides

(The Associated Press - July 27, 2012)

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is asking federal regulators to speed up their review of pesticides that could be harming honeybees.

A mysterious honeybee problem called colony collapse disorder has decimated honey bee populations in recent years.

The Environmental Protection Agency is reviewing a class of pesticides called neonicotinoids (NEE'-oh-nick-oh-tin-oyds) that could be toxic to honeybees.

The EPA is expected to complete its review in 2018. But Gillibrand is asking the agency to complete the review by the end of next year because of the vital importance of the pollinating insects to agriculture. 


(Press Release from NY Senator Gillibrand July 26, 2012):

With Colony Collapse Disorder Threatening NY Crops, Gillibrand Calls for Expedited Review of Harmful Pesticides to Protect Honey Bee Health

Honey Bees And Other Insect Pollinators Provide The Agriculture Industry With an Estimated $15 Billion Annually

Washington D.C. – With Colony Collapse Disorder decreasing the U.S. bee population by 30 percent since 2006, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, today called to expedite the review of pesticides that could be inadvertently decimating honey bee populations. Honey bees are vital to the health of agricultural industries in New York as one in three bites of food is reliant on honey bee pollination. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is not expected to complete their review until 2018. Senator Gillibrand urged a quicker timeframe, asking that it be completed by the end of next year. 

“Our agriculture industry is vital to the upstate New York’s economy,” Senator Gillibrand said. “Our farmers need honey bees to pollinate our crops and produce. However, certain pesticides may be unintentionally killing off the honey bee population. By expediting this review, we can help save our honey bee population and grow our agricultural economies.”

The EPA is currently reviewing neonicotinoids, a class of pesticide that could be toxic to honey bees and other pollinators in high or chronic doses. Research has shown that neonicotinoids can cause disruptions in mobility, navigation, feeding, foraging, memory, learning and overall hive activity, all functions that are vital to the survival of the honey bee. This would have the potential to negatively impact almond, bluberry, pumpkin, apple and cherry crops; crops that are crucial to the economy of New York farmers. New York State has already begun to discontinue use of neonicotinoids. After reviewing the pesticides, the EPA would make any warranted regulatory changes to better protect the nation’s honey bees from harmful pesticides. 

In her letter to EPA Administrator Shelia Jackson, Senator Gillibrand wrote, “Protecting honey bees and other pollinators is vital to American agriculture. In fact, one in three bites of food is reliant on honey bee pollination, and threats to pollinators concern the entire food system and could drive up the cost of food in this country. Highlighting the economic importance of pollinators, a recent study by Cornell University found that insect pollination results in a value of more than $15 billion annually.”