With other options exhausted over the past two years, beekeepers and partner organizations are now suing EPA to protect pollinators. We’ve filed over a million signatures from concerned individuals, a legal petition and a notice of intent to sue. And all to little avail. Now we’re upping the ante. Read more
Last week, the European Commission announced its position against the use of bee-harming neonicotinoid insecticides, urging nations within the European Union (EU) to impose a two-year suspension on their use. Great news for bees across the pond.
But here in the U.S., policymakers aren’t stepping up. EPA officials are continuing to ignore the emerging body of science that point to pesticides, and especially neonicotinoid insecticides, as a critical factor in bee declines. What’s worse, the agency is poised to approve yet another bee-harming pesticide. Read more
In both the popular imagination and ad campaigns, honey is the epitome of a wild food. After all, bees can’t be herded and overfed like cattle, or immobilized like broiler chickens if they are to continue making the sweet substance. As reported here last year, bees are “a key to global food security” due to their critical importance in food chains worldwide. In fact, honey seems to be a bellwether of global food insecurities. Read more
Four years ago, the United States government held the first congressional hearing on Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), an as yet unknown affliction responsible for the devastating and sudden losses of native honeybees, which mysteriously disappear and never return to their hives. While the news has been relatively silent on CCD the past couple of years, there’s been a resurgence of other media around this phenomenon, including “Vanishing of the Bees,” a documentary film directed by George Langworthy and Maryam Heinen and narrated by actress Ellen Page (“Inception” and “Juno”). Read more
There are two gardens on the roof at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco. One has a picturesque green lawn, a fountain, and an array of decorative trees and flowers. In other words, it’s exactly what you’d expect from a Nob Hill hotel. Nearby, on a smaller terrace, is something less expected: a culinary herb garden. Raised beds brim with lavender and rosemary, a small compost bin is visible in one corner, and, off to one side, honey bees busily travel to and from three large hives. Read more
The New York Times made a long-awaited (and much emailed) announcement on its front page last week: The mystery of the ongoing and agriculturally devastating bee die-off (aka Colony Collapse Disorder, or CCD) has been cracked! Read more
According to the recently released annual survey by the Apiary Inspectors of America (AIA) and the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), more than a third of U.S. managed honeybee colonies—those set up for intensified pollination of commercial crops—failed to survive this past winter. Since 2006, the decline of the U.S.’s estimated 2.4 million beehives—commonly referred to as colony collapse disorder (CCD)—has led to the disappearance of hundreds of thousands of colonies: Hives are found empty with honey, larvae, and the queen intact, but with no bees and no trail left behind. The cause remains unknown, but appears to be a combination of factors impacting bee health and increasing their susceptibility to disease. Heavy losses associated with CCD have been found mainly with larger migratory commercial beekeepers, some of whom have lost 50-90 percent of their colonies. Read more
Bees have been dying off in record numbers over the past few years — some American beekeepers have lost anywhere from 30 to 90% of their bees. The situation, termed Colony Collapse Disorder [CCD], has wreaked havoc on American agriculture and the $15 billion worth of crops pollinated by honeybees every year.
So I did what San Francisco State University biologist Gretchen LeBeun, creator of the Great Sunflower Project, has asked. I planted a Lemon Queen sunflower. And then I stood there watching for bees. I timed the first arrival, 7 minutes, 33 seconds. I stood in my front yard for over twenty minutes watching bees circle the new plant, doing loops around the Cone flowers and the Tickseed and circling back. Gretchen has asked us sunflower-planter participants to time how long it takes five bees to find this grand dame plant and then to send in this data via their website, to be included in their big research project on the honeybee disappearing act, the most mysterious and disturbing event in the world of agriculture today. Read more
Last weekend I spent a few minutes thinking enviously of all of you chowing down at Slow Food Nation. Then I got up and went outside to watch my bees. Read more