Bee-Harming Pesticides are Declining at Plant Nurseries, Report Shows

Los Angeles Times - Business Section   By Geoffrey Mohan  August 17, 2016

A honeybee works on an almond blossom on a farm south of Fresno. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)Retailers appear to be selling fewer ornamental plants laced with pesticides linked to bee population declines, according to a new report.

Less than a quarter of the trees and flowers from stores and nurseries tested by environmental activists contained pesticides at levels that could be harmful to bees, which are vital to pollinating many of the nation’s food crops. Two previous reports, in 2013 and 2014, revealed that more than half of the samples contained potentially dangerous levels of chemicals linked to bee deaths.

“Our data indicates that compared to two years ago, fewer nurseries and garden stores are selling plants pre-treated with systemic neonicotinoid insecticides,” said Susan Kegley, a chemist at the Pesticide Research Institute and lead author of the report released Tuesday by the institute and Friends of the Earth.

Neonicotinoids, which mimic nicotine insecticides produced naturally in leafy plants, have been linked to the decline of bee populations. 

In January, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said one such chemical, imidacloprid, “potentially poses risk to hives when the pesticide comes in contact with certain crops that attract pollinators.” Imidacloprid is found in at least 188 farm and household products in California.

Activists hailed recent pledges by such major retailers as Home Depot and Lowe’s to phase out neonicotinoids in the plants they purchase from nurseries, even as they urged others, such as Wal-Mart and True Value, to make similar moves. About 65 retailers, including Whole Foods and BJ’s Wholesale Club, have committed to phasing out neonicotinoid-treated plants, according to the report.

The pesticides are predominantly used to control sucking insects, such as aphids and psyllids, that damage the plants.

“The market is shifting away from selling bee-killing pesticides, and retailers including Ace Hardware and True Value are lagging behind their competitors,” said Tiffany Finck-Haynes, food futures campaigner with Friends of the Earth.

Jean Niemi, a spokeswoman for True Value Co., said the company is willing to phase out neonicotinoids when “suitable alternatives become commercially available.” In a letter sent to Friends of the Earth last year, the company said such a phase-out would occur over a three-year period.

A Wal-Mart spokesman said the company “has been monitoring the science around neonicotinoids” and bee health and will rely on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to assess the hazard posed by exposure to the chemicals.

A spokesman for Bayer CropScience, the primary manufacturer of Imidacloprid, said there is no evidence that proper use of neonicotinoids on home and garden products harms bees, and cautioned that losing home vegetation to insect damage can decrease habitat for the pollinators.

“Over its 20-year history, there has not been a single documented honey bee colony loss that can be attributed to a labeled use of imidacloprid,” said Bayer CropScience spokesman Jeff Donald.

“The unfortunate effect of the activists’ campaign is consumers who lose choice on how to protect their lawn and gardens, which may result in them losing plants and flowers to damaging pests or in them resorting to other costly or potentially more dangerous pest control measures,” Donald added.

Of the 60 samples taken nationwide — including several in the Bay Area and Sacramento — 14 showed traces of one or more neonicotinoid pesticides, mostly imidacloprid.  

Three of 13 samples from city-owned landscaping also tested positive. Most of the samples that tested positive contained one pesticide; two flower samples contained two different neonicotinoid insecticides, according to the report.

California’s $7-billion almond industry depends almost completely on pollination services provided by bees. Other crops that depend strongly on commercial honeybee colonies include alfalfa, apples, avocados, blueberries, cherries, cucumbers, onions, cantaloupe, cranberries, pumpkins and sunflowers.

California farmers applied nearly 144 tons of imidacloprid on more than 1.5 million acres in 2013, the last year for which complete data were available, according to the state Department of Pesticide Regulation.

The top users of the pesticide were wine-grape growers, who applied 30 tons of it to about 240,000 acres in 2013, according to the state agency. Growers of table and raisin grapes, tomatoes for processing, oranges and cotton also were among the heaviest agricultural users, according to the agency.

The single biggest user, however, was the predominantly urban pest-control industry, which applied nearly 37 tons to homes and businesses to combat pests such as termites, according to the agency.

Several studies have linked high levels of neonicotinoids to decreased foraging, failures of queen bees, breakdowns in hive communication and other colony-threatening phenomena. Last year, however, a study suggested that exposure to levels of the pesticide expected on most farms would pose no significant negative effects on bee colonies.

Many factors have been blamed for the bee die-offs: exposure to multiple pesticides, poor hive management practices, loss of habitat and natural pathogens such as mites and viruses. The USDA last year reported winter colony losses of about 23%, based on a survey of beekeepers. A winter decline of about 19% is considered normal.

In May, the USDA reported a 17% loss of colonies from commercial beekeepers during the first quarter of this year. About 114,000 colonies were lost in a manner suggesting colony collapse disorder in that period, the USDA reported. That same quarter a year ago showed 92,300 colonies lost under similar circumstances.

USDA Must Protect Its Scientists

The Pollinator Stewardship Council    By Michele Colopy  May 5, 2015

["Seriously, this has happened and it is important for us to write to our Senators to Take Action." 
Bill Lewis, 2013-2014 President California State Beekeepers Association, Past President Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association, Owner Bill's Bees]  

A recent article in Reuters ( ) stated USDA scientists are being harassed and their work is being censored or suppressed, especially work related to insecticides and herbicides. The USDA Inspector General’s office should conduct a thorough investigation into this matter and take necessary steps to ensure the USDA maintains scientific integrity by not interfering with the valuable work of its scientists.

All of the research the USDA conducts must maintain scientific integrity and transparency to ensure it is guiding science-based policy decisions. 

Scientific evidence has implicated insecticides as a leading driver of bee declines, and herbicides as a leading driver of the destruction of pollinator habitat.  Beekeepers, honey producers, and the crops pollinated by managed and native pollinators rely on USDA scientists to protect the health of our food supply.  Honey bees and native bees pollinate one third of the human diet.  For a sustainable and affordable food supply pollinators are key to crop yields, affordable food, and diverse nutritious food.

In March, the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) filed a citizen petition requesting the U.S. Department of Agriculture adopt new policies to increase job protection for government scientists who question the health and safety of agricultural chemicals. The petition urges the agency to adopt policies to specifically prevent the “political suppression or alteration of studies and lay out clear procedures for investigating allegations and of scientific misconduct.”

PEER found more than ten USDA scientists who have faced consequences or investigations, when their work called into question the health and safety of agricultural chemicals. These scientists documented clear actions that violated their scientific integrity, including:
•    USDA officials retracting studies
•    watering down findings
•    removing scientists’ names from authorship
•    delaying approvals for publication of research papers.

The USDA must maintain scientific integrity, and not allow harassment, censorship or suppression of science-based findings.  Please join us in support of USDA scientists.  Email your Senator today urging the USDA Inspector General to take the necessary steps to ensure USDA maintains scientific integrity in the protection of the health and safety of the American public.

Thank you,
Michele Colopy
Program Director
The Pollinator Stewardship Council

A Special Message from the Pollinator Stewardship Council


Pollinator Stewardship Council
P.O. Box 304, Perkinston, MS 39573


Dear Beekeepers,

One of the first crops pollinated this spring saw estimates of 80,000 honey bee colonies damaged due to an unregulated tank mix of pesticides. The pesticide label offered no protections to the honey bees. These damaged colonies had piles of dead bees in front of the hives, inside the hives, and the brood were “born” dead and dying.

dead bees in front of hivedying & dead brood

dead & dying brood

dead bees in front of hive

Visual evidence is not enough to prove these losses of honey bee colonies. Lab analysis of the “evidence of the bee kill” is needed to support beekeepers in their efforts to protect pollinators.

We are beekeepers, working to protect honey bees and native pollinators.We have been collecting reports of bee kills across the U.S. We need to do more! We received two donations of $5,000 each in support of our work to collect reports of bee kills, and to supply bee kill evidence kits to beekeepers and lab analysis of honey bees for pesticide exposureThis scientific proof of the level of pesticides bees are encountering in urban, suburban, and agricultural areas is important data of the real-world environment of pollinators.

State Agricultural and Environmental Agencies lack the budgets and staff to analyze bees for pesticide exposure.Help us help beekeepers.It will cost $150,000 to collect bee kill reports, provide 200 evidence kits and lab tests for pollen, pesticides, and pathogens. Two generous donors have already given $5,000 each.

Donate today to ensure beekeepers and honey bees can continue to pollinate our neighborhoods, community gardens, farms, and wild lands. Support our project to provide bee kill evidence kits and lab analysis for pesticide exposure. You can complete the form below and mail it with your donation; or go online and make your donation today at

Thank you for being beekeepers,
Michele Colopy, Program Director

Download form

Thank you! Together we can make a difference for beekeeping operations, for pollinators, for a sustainable and affordable food supply

Bee evidence kits include:
Insulated shipping box
Disposable gloves
Pre-labeled sample vials
Pre-labeled PRI Sample Log Sheets
Pre-labeled Chain of Custody (COC) form
Evidence Collection Directions
Small Metal Spatula (for pollen and honey extraction)
Weighing dishes (for pollen extraction)
Trash bags to use as surface protectors to make a clean workspace
Rubbing alcohol wipes to clean sampling implements between samples

*kits developed by PRI (Pesticide Research Institute)

The Pollinator Stewardship Council’s mission is to defend managed and native pollinators vital to a sustainable and affordable food supply
from the adverse impact of pesticides.
a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization; all donations are tax deductible

Take the Pledge: Honey Bees Need Your Help

Honey Bee Haven Take the Pledge

Bees are responsible for pollinating one in three bites of food we eat...and they're in trouble. Since the mid-1990s, they've been dying off in droves around the world. Colonies have been mysteriously collapsing with adult bees disappearing, seemingly abandoning their hives.

This phenomenon — known as Colony Collapse Disorder, or CCD — is likely caused by a variety of interacting factors, including pathogens, loss of habitat and increased exposure to systemic and other pesticides.

Policymakers have yet to make pollinator health a top priority, and current regulations don't provide adequate protection for bees. But a groundswell of concerned citizens, gardeners and beekeepers is building to protect bees.

Join the movement! Take the pledge to provide a honey bee haven with access to pesticide-free food, shelter and water. It doesn't take much space — a few containers of the right kinds of plants tucked into your garden, on a balcony or front stoop, will get you started.

Guiding Principles:

  1. Protect bees from pesticides. Pesticides kill beneficial insects including pollinators and natural enemies that control common pests like aphids. Certain pesticides, including neonicotinoids, are highly toxic to honey bees in particular. Instead of using pesticides, explore organic ways to grow healthy plants, such as using compost for healthy soil and controlling pests with homemade remedies and biocontrols like ladybugs.
  2. Provide a variety of food for bees. Consider clustered plantings with staggered blooming times so there is food throughout the year and particularly in the late summer and fall. Native plants are always best, and inter-planting and hedgerows provide additional forage on farms.
  3. Provide a year-round, clean source of water for bees. This can be a river, pond, irrigation system, rainwater collection system or small-scale garden water features. Shallow water sources can provide more than enough water for bees, without creating opportunities for mosquitoes to breed.
  4. Provide shelter for bees. Leave some ground undisturbed and untilled and some dead trees and plants on the property for wild bees to nest in.

Pesticides Halve Bees Pollen Gathering Ability, Research Shows

The Guardian    By Damian Carrington   1/29/14

Scientists call for a permanent EU ban as neonicotinoid toxins are found to harm bees and deprive their young of food

Bumblebees exposed to controversial  pesticides collect just half the pollen they would otherwise harvest, according to new research, depriving their growing young of their only source of protein.

The work has been hailed as important by independent scientists because it sheds light on how the neonicotinoid pesticides can harm bees.

"Pollen is the only source of protein that bees have, and it is vital for rearing their young," said Professor Dave Goulson, at the University of Sussex and who led the study. "Collecting it is fiddly, slow work for the bees and intoxicated bees become much worse at it. Without much pollen, nests will inevitably struggle."

two-year EU ban of three neonicotinoids, the most widely used insecticides in the world, began in December, following research that showed harm to honey and bumblebees. The neonicotinoids are "systemic" pesticides, being applied to seeds so that the chemical spreads within the plants. Over three-quarters of the world's food crops require insect pollination, but bees have declined in recent decades due to loss of flower-rich habitat, disease and pesticide use.

Goulson's team tested one of the three, called imidacloprid, at low doses aimed at replicating those encountered by bees in fields. They attached tiny electronic tags to bees so their movements could be tracked and each bee was weighed on its way in or out of the nest.

Bees exposed to the neonicotinoid brought back pollen from only 40% of trips, while unexposed bees carried pollen back from to 63% of trips. Furthermore, exposed bees that did return with pollen carried 31% less than unexposed bees. Overall, the nests exposed to the pesticide received 57% less pollen. The ability of bees to collect sugary nectar did not differ significantly between the bees. The work is published in the peer-reviewed journal Ecotoxicology.

Hannah Feltham, at the University of Stirling and another member of the research team, said: "This work adds another piece to the...

Read more at:

Miticides, Ag Chems, and Inert Ingredients A Deadly Mixture in a Beehive

This message brought to you by Bee Culture   1/28/14

Alan Harman

Disturbing new research finds four pesticides commonly used to kill mites, insects and fungi – fluvalinate, coumaphos, chlorothalonil and chlorpyrifos – are also killing honey bee larvae within their hives.

A team from Penn State and University of Florida also found that N-methyl-2-pyrrolidone (NMP) – an inert, or inactive, chemical commonly used as a pesticide additive -- is highly toxic to honey bee larvae.

“We found that four of the pesticides most commonly found in beehives kill bee larvae,” says Penn State’s Jim Frazier. “We also found that the negative effects of these pesticides are sometimes greater when the pesticides occur in combinations within the hive.

“Since pesticide safety is judged almost entirely on adult honey bee sensitivity to individual pesticides and also does not consider mixtures of pesticides, the risk assessment process that the Environmental Protection Agency uses should be changed.”

The research was funded by the National Honey Board, the U.S. Department of Agriculture-National Institute of Food and Agriculture-Agriculture and Food Research Initiative-Coordinated Agricultural Projects and the Foundational Award programs. Frazier says the team's previous research demonstrated that forager bees bring back to the hive an average of six different pesticides on the pollen they collect. Nurse bees use this pollen to make beebread, which they then feed to honey bee larvae.

To examine the effects of four common pesticides – fluvalinate, coumaphos, chlorothalonil and chlorpyrifos – on bee larvae, the researchers reared honey bee larvae in their laboratory. They then applied the pesticides alone and in all combinations to the beebread to determine whether these insecticides and fungicides act alone or in concert to create a toxic environment for honey bee growth and development.

The researchers also investigated the effects of NMP on honey bee larvae by adding seven concentrations of the chemical to a pollen-derived, royal jelly diet. NMP is used to dissolve pesticides into formulations that then allow the active ingredients to spread and penetrate the plant or animal surfaces onto which they are applied.

The team fed their treated diet, containing various types and concentrations of chemicals, to the laboratory-raised bee larvae.

“We found that mixtures of pesticides can have greater consequences for larval toxicity than one would expect from individual pesticides,” Frazier says.

Among the four pesticides, honey bee larvae were most sensitive to chlorothalonil. They also were negatively affected by a mixture of chlorothalonil with fluvalinate. In addition, the larvae were sensitive to the combination of chlorothalonil with the miticide coumaphos.

In contrast, the addition of coumaphos significantly reduced the toxicity of the fluvalinate and chlorothalonil mixture.

Penn State professor of entomology Chris Mullin says the pesticides may directly poison honey bee larvae or they may indirectly kill them by disrupting the beneficial fungi that are essential for nurse bees to process pollen into beebread.

“Chronic exposure to pesticides during the early life stage of honey bees may contribute to their inadequate nutrition or direct poisoning with a resulting impact on their survival and development,” he says.

The researchers note that fluvalinate and coumaphos are commonly used by beekeepers in their hives to control Varroa mites, and are found to persist within beehives for about five years if not removed by beekeepers.

Chlorothalonil is a broad-spectrum agricultural fungicide that is often applied to crops in bloom when honey bees are present for pollination because it is currently deemed safe to bees. Chlorpyrifos is a widely used organophosphate in crop management.

“Our findings suggest that the common pesticides chlorothalonil, fluvalinate, coumaphos and chlorpyrifos, individually or in mixtures, have statistically significant impacts on honey bee larval survivorship,” Mullin says.

“This is the first study to report serious toxic effects on developing honey bee larvae of dietary pesticides at concentrations that currently occur in hives.”

The team also found that increasing amounts of NMP corresponded to increased larval mortality, even at the lowest concentration tested.

"There is a growing body of research that has reported a wide range of adverse effects of inactive ingredients to human health, including enhancing pesticide toxicities across the nervous, cardiovascular, respiratory and hormone systems,” Mullin says.

“The bulk of synthetic organic chemicals used and released into U.S. environments are formulation ingredients like NMP, which are generally recognized as safe. They have no mandated limits on their use and their residues remain unmonitored.

“Multi-billion pounds of these inactive ingredients overwhelm the total chemical burden from the active pesticide, drug and personal-care ingredients with which they are formulated. Among these co-formulants are surfactants and solvents of known high toxicity to fish, amphibians, honey bees and other non-target organisms. While we have found that NMP contributes to honey bee larvae mortality, the overall role of these inactive ingredients in pollinator decline remains to be determined.”

Also available online at

 Bee Culture, The Magazine Of American Beekeeping, published by the A.I. Root Company. Find us at - Twitter.FacebookBee Culture’s Blog.

Honeybee Shortage Threatens Crop Pollination in Europe

BBC News    By Matt McGrath   1/8/14

In more than half of European countries, there are not enough honeybees to pollinate crops, according to new research.

Scientists believe that a boom in biofuels has sparked a massive increase in the need for pollination.

The shortage is particularly acute in Britain which has only a quarter of the honeybees required.

Researchers believe that wild pollinators including bumblebees and hoverflies are making up the shortfall.

The study is published in the journal Plos One.

Food for fuel

The number of honeybees in the UK and elsewhere has been in decline in recent years, with both pesticide use and disease being blamed for losses.

Across Europe though, overall numbers of honeybee colonies increased by 7% across 41 countries between 2005 and 2010.

But in the same period, the area of biofuel feed crops, like oilseed rape, sunflowers and soybeans, increased by almost a third.

"There have been big increases in lots of countries with oilseed rape," said lead author Dr Tom Breeze from the University of Reading.

"In Greece in 2005, there were a few hundred hectares grown, but since then it has exploded because they can get biofuel subsidies for it."

map bees


The scientist say that the deficit across Europe now amounts to 13.4 million colonies or around seven billion honeybees.

The research suggests that much of the work is now being done by wild pollinators including bumblebees, solitary bees and hoverflies.

Britain is one of the countries with the biggest shortfall - only Moldova, with an economy 300 times smaller than the UK, has a bigger honeybee shortage.

Little is known about the number of wild pollinating species as they are not being monitored in the UK. The researchers believe this reliance on them could be hampering yields and putting UK crops at risk.

"We face a catastrophe in future years unless we act now," said Prof Simon Potts, from the University of Reading, a co-author on the paper.

"Wild pollinators need greater protection. They are the unsung heroes of the countryside, providing a critical link in the food chain for humans and doing work for free that would otherwise cost British farmers £1.8b to replace."

While steps have been taken at the EU level to protect bees by introducing a moratorium on neonicotinoid pesticides, the researchers say other European legislation is exacerbating the pollinator shortage.

Under the EU renewable fuel directive, 10% of transport fuel must come from renewable sources by 2020, though the final figure is still being negotiated.

Whatever the ultimate target, the directive has seen large increases in the planting of oil crops including soybeans, oil palm as well as oilseed rape.

"There is a growing disconnection between agricultural and environmental policies across Europe," said Prof Potts.

"Farmers are encouraged to grow oil crops, yet there is not enough joined-up thinking about how to help the insects that will pollinate them.

"We need a proper strategy across Europe to conserve wild bees and pollinators through habitat protection, agricultural policy and farming methods - or we risk big financial losses to the farming sector and a potential food security crisis."

UK apples need a buzz

The UK apple industry is particularly dependant on pollinators say the researchers.

The wild creatures add £37m a year to the value of just two varieties of British apples, Gala and Cox.

"Pollinators not only increase the number but improve the quality of the apples you get. They are bigger, firmer and sell for a better price," said Dr Breeze.

If anything happened to these wild species, the industry would be in trouble he said.

"We just don't have the honeybees to compensate for them."

New EPA Label Not The Saving Grace We Thought

(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.) 

This is long, but you should read all of it. And then be glad you are not a pollinating insect(CATCH THE BUZZ has commented extensively on this subject, here. Stopping the Poison must begin, and this doesn’t do it.) 

News From Beyond Pesticides and others. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) new pesticide label for honey bee protection, announced last Thursday and published in CATCH THE BUZZ, has been widely criticized by beekeepers and environmentalists as offering inadequate protection in the face of devastating bee decline. Under the new guidelines, the labels will prohibit the use of some neonicotinoid pesticides when bees are present, and include a “bee advisory box” and icon with information on routes of exposure and spray drift precautions. Critics question the efficacy of the label change in curtailing a systemic pesticide that contaminates nectar and pollen, poisoning bees indisc riminately, and the enforceability of the label language, which is geared to managed not wild bees. EPA has not formally acknowledged the peer-reviewed science linking neonicotinoid pesticides to colony collapse disorder and bee decline, as is the case in the European Union’s European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). 

Specifically, the new label applies to pesticide products containing the neonicotionoids  imidaclopriddinotefuranclothianidin and thiamethoxam. Neonicotinoids are a relatively new class of insecticides that share a common mode of action that affect the central nervous system of insects, resulting in paralysis and death. They include imidacloprid, acetamiprid, clothianidin, dinotefuran, nithiazine, thiacloprid and thiamethoxam. Peer-reviewed science has repeatedly identified these insecticides as highly toxic to honey bees and other pollinators. The neonicotinoid class of insecticides has been identified as a leading factor in bee decline.

“Multiple factors play a role in bee colony declines, including pesticides. The Environmental Protection Agency is taking action to protect bees from pesticide exposure and these label changes will further our efforts,” said Jim Jones, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. Tonight, August 20 at 9 PM Eastern, listen in to EPA’s Reuben Baris, Fate Scientist, EPA Office of Pesticide Programs’ Enviro nmental Fate and Effects Division & Dr. Tom Steeger, Senior Science Advisor, EPA Office of Pesticide Programs’ Environmental Fate and Effects Division, through the ABF CONVERSATIONS WITH A BEEKEEPER, on assessing pesticide exposure to bees. If you are an ABF member, be sure to tune in, or catch the archived program later.

Unfortunately, this label change does not address the fact that neonicotinoids are systemic, meaning plants take up these pesticides and exude them in their pollen and nectar, with residues remaining in the plant for its lifetime (EVEN IF SPRAYED AFTER DARK, OR WHEN IT’S COLD), continually endangering any pollinators that forage or pollinate  these contaminated plants. Additionally, the bulk of neonicotinoid uses are in fact for treated seed, which accounts for the majority of corn planted in the U.S.  Contaminated dust that originates from the planting of these seeds drift off fields and have been known to kill large numbers of bees. Recently, 37 million honeybees were reported dead across a single farm in Ontario from the dust associated with planting neonicotinoid-treated corn seeds.  According to New York beekeeper Jim Doan, “In New York state, for example, foliar application of neonics are used only for apples and some vegetables, and no t used for the majority of the crops out there – corn and soybeans – which are seed coatings. When I heard about the new labeling requirements, my first question was, so are we going to put these labels on the bags of corn? No.” 

Neonicotinoids are primarily used as seed treatment for corn and soybeans, as well as in home and garden products. These chemicals contaminate nectar and pollen, as well as soil and surface water.  Foraging and navigational disruptions, immune suppression and learning/memory disorders have been documented in bees exposed to even low levels of these chemicals. An extensive ove rview of the major studies showing the effects of neonicotinoids on pollinator health can be found on Beyond Pesticides’What the Science Shows webpage. 

There is also concern that the new label language is unenforceable. EPA is aware that label directions such as these are not adhered to in the real-world. Many beekeepers can attest to this and have repeatedly communicated this to EPA enforcement and registration officials. Addressing lack of co mpliance has been an area the agency has not sufficiently addressed throughout the years. For instance, after specifying that, “the product may not be applied while bees are foraging. Do not apply this product until flowering is complete and all petals have fallen,” EPA adopts the loophole: 

“If an application must be made when managed bees are at the treatment site, the beekeeper providing the pollination services must be notified no less than 48-hours prior to the time of the planned application so that the bees can be removed, covered or otherwise protected prior to spraying.” 

This keeps the onus on the beekeepers to make sure their bees are safe. (LEAVING NO PROVISION TO MOVE THE INNOCENTS TO SAFETY) 

On March 21, 2013, Beyond Pesticides joined beekeepers, environmental and consumer groups in filing a lawsuit in Federal District Court against EPA for its failure to protect pollinators from dangerous pesticides. The coalition is seeking suspension of the registrations of insecticides- clothianidin and thiamethoxam- which 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 oversight of these bee-killing pesticides, as well as the agency’s practice of “conditional registration” and labeling deficiencies. 

In the meantime, EPA has stated it would support short-term mitigation measures, such as improved seed coatings to reduce contaminated dust, and improved farming equipment, measures which do not go far enough to protect both commercial and wild bee populations. These new label changes, while an improvement from current pollinator hazard statement on pesticide labels, also do not go far enough to protect bees, especially wild bees. (EMPHASIS CTB) 

“This is a step forward, certainly, but it does not address the issue that we need to address. EPA deserves a pat on the back for coming up with something, but we have a long ways to go,” said Mr. Doan. “We need to continue to put pressure on the agency and the industry and keep moving forward.” 

Earlier this year, the EU announced a two-year suspension on these bee-killing pesticides. In early July, Beyond Pesticides urged President Obama in a joint letter to direct EPA to follow Europe’s lead in suspending certain neonicotinoid pesticides uses and take on even more protective measures, including a minimum two-year suspension for all outdoor uses of neonicotinoid insecticides pending resolution of their hazards to bees and beneficial organisms. Highlighting the negative environmental and economic impacts of outdoor uses of the EPA-approved neonicotinoid insecticides as well as a recognition that the initial risk assessments for these chemicals fail to adequately consider key risks to bee health, the letter to President Obama notes that it, “would not be responsible to continue to allow these threatening compounds to be used so broadly.” 

YOU CAN Take Action: Beyond Pesticides’ BEE Protective campaign has all the educational tools you need to stand up for pollinators. Some specific ways you can help are: Join us  in asking Lowe’s and Home Depot and other leading garden centers to take action and stop the sale of neonicotinoids and plants treated with these chemicals. Tell your member of Congress to support the Save America’s Pollinators Act.  

For information on what you can do to keep the momentum going, see

 Sources: EPA Press Release,

 But Wait, There’s More…..

 Continue reading...

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

Bayer launches Bee Care Tour…

(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 2/28/13

ORLANDO, Fla., Feb. 27, 2013- A national Bee Care Tour will encourage growers, beekeepers and researchers to focus on the myriad of factors causing the decline in honey bee populations, said Robyn Kneen, Bayer CropScience’s North America Bee Health Project Manager. 

Bayer’s mobile Bee Care Tour is launching this week in Orlando, Florida, and will travel to university agriculture schools and farm communities across Corn Belt states over the next three months. Tour stops will include The Ohio State University in Wooster (register hereto attend); University of Illinois in Urbana; Iowa State University in Ames; The University of Nebraska in Lincoln; and University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.

 “There’s a lot of misinformation out there, and that’s why Bayer is taking a proactive approach toward dealing with this issue,” Kneen said, regarding speculation on Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). 

“That term has been utilized to refer to all honey bee losses,” Kneen said. 

However, “researchers have reached a consensus that this is a complex issue.” What is labeled by some as CCD is actually the result of a variety of problems, including...


Pesticides on Brink of Ban Over Honey Bee Losses

Western Farm Press   by Chris Bennett in Farm Press Blog    2/20/13

  • A neonicotinoid ban might cost Europe up to $23 billion and put 50,000 jobs on the chopping block.
  • For U.S. agriculture and California, the neonicotinoid outcome in Europe may serve as a regulatory road map.

Honey bees are a massive global business, responsible for a third of the world’s food production. Honey bees provide $15 billion in added U.S. crop value each year, and as the USDA reports, “About one mouthful in three in our diet directly or indirectly benefits from honey bee pollination.”

It’s difficult to overstate honey bee significance to the planet’s food security. And since 2006, after the bullrush onset of Colony Collapse Disorder, scientists and beekeepers have looked for a source of blame; a cause to explain millions of abandoned hives and billions of dead bees.

The EU, mainly based on the research of Italian biologist Marco Lodesani, thinks it has fingered the culprit: neonicotinoid pesticides. According to Businessweek, three years of research led Lodesani to a conclusion of toxic poisoning: “Our findings show that the bee colonies are dying off in such large numbers, and that the link is pesticides,” said Lodesani. He added that the ‘pharma’ link, as he calls it, is strong enough to rule out other suspected causes, such as a deadly virus, as a principle cause for colony deaths.”

The European Food Safety Authority (ESFA), took Lodesani’s report and ran with it. As a result, neonicotinoid pesticides are on the brink of European ban. On Feb. 25, the EU’s 27 member states will vote on a proposed two-year neonicotinoid ban...