Inaction? Intransigence? Negligence? Whatever the right word, we’re reminded that the U.S. is behind the curve when it comes to protecting bees. Yesterday, Europe’s restrictions on bee-harming pesticides went into effect. Today, in a full-page advertisement in the New York Times and six other major papers, Pesticide Action Network (PAN) and over 60 other food, farm, faith, and investor groups called on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to take action to protect bees. Read more
It appears we may be on the verge of a new silent spring, a season marked, not by the absence of birdsong, but by the lack of insect buzzing.
A range of flying invertebrates—from the iconic monarch butterfly, to moths you’ve never heard of, to a number of once-common bumblebees—are suffering significant declines. Some biologists are warning that the losses could have serious consequences for the food web and for human agriculture, especially since native pollinators are far more important for food crop pollination than the domesticated European honeybee. Read more
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