11 amazing reasons to save the honeybees
How to Create a Pollinator Oasis Right at Home
The Nature Conservancy of Canada
May 12, 2015
Did you know that about one-third of the world’s food crop production relies on pollination?
Perhaps due to this connection, the plight of pollinators (bees in particular) has recently become highly publicized worldwide.
Todd Farrell, conservation biologist with the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) says that while bees have been the poster child in the media, other pollinators such as butterflies and moths that are facing similar challenges should not be left out.
“We are just beginning to understand pollinators’ importance in our ecosystems and food systems, and their status in the wild,” says Todd.
“Insect diversity is vast and there’s a lot we still don’t know. Building up this knowledge base can help us better manage our lands.”
Farrell says that by conducting targeted surveys and contributing to province-wide counts, NCC scientists are able to gather more information on population sizes, trends and the locations of certain pollinator species.
For example, findings from one of last year’s moth surveys at an NCC property in the Rice Lake Plains Natural Area proved great potential as a core area for provincially and nationally significant moths.
While conservation organizations like NCC are making progress in the field and helping us build a better picture of pollinators on the lands they protect, change can happen right at home.
Here are three ways you can be a champion for our pollinators:
Pollinator friendly plants and wildflowers
Species such as wild bergamot and black-eyed Susan are examples of plants suitable in all areas. However, some plants may only be appropriate for a certain habitat type or climatic zone. Use native plant guides to learn about what’s appropriate for your area. Plants that pollinators will love include bee balm, milkweed and other nectar- and pollen-rich species. Choosing a variety of plants that flower at different times of the year helps ensure a steady food supply for our pollinators!
Tip: Once you’ve selected your seeds, help them germinate by sealing the seeds in a Ziploc bag with a damp paper towel.
Access to fresh, clean water is essential for pollinator health. Line a shallow dish with a few pebbles as landing pads, and voilà: a hydration station for your ladybugs, butterflies, bees and more.
Butterflies also use salt licks to satisfy a need for nutrients and minerals. Make your garden more inviting by creating a damp area over bare soil mixed with a little sea salt for a DIY salt lick.
Tip: Spot a grounded, exhausted bee straggling about? Help get it back on its feet (or wings rather) by offering a spoon with sugar water.
You may be surprised that not all bees live in hives; in fact, of Canada’s 800 native bee species, about 90 percent are solitary and live in underground burrows, wood tunnels or other cavities.
Tip: Even without any carpentry skills, you can build a bee condo using wood blocks and hollow stems.
COALITION CHALLENGES EXPANSION OF HAZARDOUS HERBICIDE CONTAINING AGENT ORANGE INGREDIENT
EPA allows nine additional states to use toxic 2,4-D on GE corn and soy crops
Farmworker using pesticides
A farmworker spraying pesticides in a soybean field.
Instead of being an environmental watchdog, the EPA is playing lapdog and allowing this deadly herbicide to be sprayed on millions of acres without adequate impact assessment.
Managing Attorney, Earthjustice
April 20, 2015
San Francisco, CA — A coalition of conservation, food safety, and public health groups filed a motion today challenging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s decision to expand the use of “Enlist Duo” on genetically engineered (GE) corn and soy crops to nine additional states: Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and North Dakota.
Earthjustice and Center for Food Safety filed the motion in the United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of Beyond Pesticides, Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Food Safety, Environmental Working Group, the National Family Farm Coalition, and Pesticide Action Network North America. This motion builds on the coalition’s earlier challenge of Enlist Duo, which already includes six Midwestern states where EPA previously approved the herbicide’s use on GE corn and soy crops.
The groups are challenging EPA’s decision to allow the use of Enlist Duo in 15 Midwestern states because of the serious impacts the powerful new herbicide cocktail, which combines glyphosate and 2,4-D, will have on farmworkers, neighboring farms, and ground and surface water, as well as endangered species. For instance, 2,4-D, a component of the infamous Agent Orange, has been linked to serious illnesses like Parkinson’s disease, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and reproductive problems. The EPA’s analyses also demonstrate plainly that the herbicide may affect endangered species like the whooping crane, Louisiana black bear, and Indiana bat through consumption of prey contaminated with the toxic chemical.
"Big chemical is profiting over dumping more and more toxins in our air, water and bodies and killing our endangered wildlife,” said Earthjustice attorney Paul Achitoff. “Instead of being an environmental watchdog, the EPA is playing lapdog and allowing this deadly herbicide to be sprayed on millions of acres without adequate impact assessment. We filed our motion so we can finally stop the cycle of more and more pesticides with less and less oversight.”
“Our federal regulators have again unlawfully bowed to the chemical industry, rather than protect our communities, land, and farms,” said George Kimbrell, Center for Food Safety senior attorney, counsel in the case. “We will continue to defend them vigorously.”
“In expanding its approval for this super-toxic chemical cocktail, EPA has shown an utter disregard for human health, our drinking water, and endangered species like the iconic whooping crane,” said Lori Ann Burd, environmental health director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “EPA has left us with no choice but to go to court.”
“Rural communities rely on EPA to take its job seriously. But in approving Dow’s proposed use of 2,4-D, EPA has failed to protect their health, their vulnerable crops and their livelihoods,” said Marcia Ishii-Eiteman, senior scientist at Pesticide Action Network North America. “Communities across the Midwest are furious, knowing that they now face unprecedented levels of 2,4-D drift each summer.”
EPA approved Enlist Duo to address the epidemic of glyphosate-resistant super weeds that now infest tens of millions of acres of U.S. farmland as a result of overuse of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup and probable carcinogen, on crops genetically engineered to resist glyphosate’s effects. Dow Chemical has introduced 2,4-D resistant crops as a quick fix to the problem, allowing farmers to douse their fields with both 2,4-D and glyphosate to kill resistant weeds. Independent and USDA scientists, however, predict that the Enlist Duo “crop system” will only foster resistance to 2,4-D in addition to glyphosate, continuing the GE crop pesticide treadmill.
States that are now approved to use Enlist Duo on GE corn and soy crops:
Arkansas - NEW
Kansas - NEW
Louisiana - NEW
Minnesota - NEW
Missouri - NEW
Mississippi - NEW
Nebraska - NEW
North Dakota - NEW
Oklahoma - NEW
Paul Achitoff, Earthjustice, (808) 599-2436
Abigail Seiler, Center for Food Safety, (202) 547-9359
Lori Ann Burd, Center for Biological Diversity, (847) 567-4052
Paul Towers, Pesticide Action Network North America, (916) 216-1082
ENGINEERING AN ENVIRONMENTAL DISASTER: 2,4-D RESISTANT CROPS
Agent orange ingredient lol. 2,4-D is one of the OLDEST herbicides on the market. You can already use 2,4-D on corn because corn is a monocot which is not susceptible to this selective herbicide. Only dicots, like soybeans, would this affect. This article is another propaganda piece. It is a fear installing piece. Corn farmers have been using 2,4-D for decades to control broadleaf weeds.
This is why you shouldn't believe everything you read on the Internet. A history of 2,4-d
The Saving America’s Pollinators Act directs the EPA Administrator to suspend the registration of certain neonicotinoids – such as imidacloprid, clothianidin, thiamethoxam, dinotafuran – and any other members of the nitro group of neonicotinoid insecticides until a determination has been made that such insecticides will not cause adverse effects on pollinators based on an evaluation of peer-review scientific evidence and a completed field study.
The bill also requires the Secretary of the Interior, in coordination with the EPA Administrator, to regularly monitor the health and population status of native bees and identify the scope and likely causes of unusual native bee mortality.
“Pollinators are not only vital to a sustainable environment, but key to a stable food supply. In fact, one out of every three bites of food we eat is from a crop pollinated by bees. It is imperative that we take a step back to make sure we understand all the factors involved in bee population decline and move swiftly to protect our pollinators,” said Rep. Blumenauer.
USDA Survey Reveals Alarming Increase In Honeybee Mortality
A Sharp Spike in Honeybee Deaths Deepens a Worrisome Trend
Norway Creates Awesome “Bumblebee Highway”
May 24, 2015
Bees are still dying at an alarming pace. Though much of the world merely shrugs at this devastation, one city is taking active steps to make bees’ lives that much easier. Oslo, Norway has created the world’s first “bumblebee highway” – an intentional path running across the city that will appeal to and care for bees.
Highways are normally considered centers for pollution, but this is one highway that’s actually good for the environment. Bees are not only disappearing in general, but they are especially absent in urban areas where real estate is devoted to buildings and concrete rather than flowers and plants. Oslo’s plan to revitalize bee life in the city means creating a steady stream of flowerpots and other bee favorites running east-to-west. To ensure that bees don’t venture off the path, the goal is to place a flowerpot on the rooftop of buildings at least every 800 feet.
“The idea is to create a route through the city with enough feeding stations for the bumblebees all the way,” said Tony Waaktaar Gamst, a representative from the Oslo Garden Society. “Enough food will also help the bumblebees withstand manmade environmental stress better.”
While Norway already does a better job minimizing lethal factors like pesticides than other countries, six of the nation’s existing bee species are facing extinction anyway. The hope is that creating a bee-friendly environment within the city will help the bee populations’ numbers to rebound.
Perhaps the best part of the plan is that it has truly become a community effort. While environmentalists started this plan, since then both businesses and residents have contributed to the project with flowerpots of their own. Organizers have also created an app to chart the bee path. On the map, residents can see where the bee path has the most resources and where it is lacking, so citizens can take it upon themselves to improve areas that need more love. They then can take photos and share ideas to make the project more interactive.
In addition to flowers and vegetation, that also means putting out bee habitats so they have a quiet place to rest. Since bees like entering small cracks for shelter, Norwegians have taken to leaving old pieces of wood along the path to meet this need.
It’s not the first innovative bee initiative that Oslo has scored headlines for recently. Last year, upscale architecture company Snøhetta designed some elaborate golden hives. Over 150,000 bees live in the installations and the honey they generate is sold at a food court beneath the building. The beautiful geometric sculptures are meant to serve as educational public art – not only do they bring more bees to the city, but they also inform people about the importance of preserving these threatened insects.
Congrats to Oslo for being a leader when it comes to taking care of bees. Considering that bees play a role in the production of about one-third of the food humans consume, we’d all be wise to be more appreciative and protective of these insects.
U.S. EPA proposing temporary pesticide-free zones for honeybees
Thu May 28, 2015
By Carey Gillam
(Reuters) - U.S. environmental regulators on Thursday proposed a rule that would create temporary pesticide-free zones to protect commercial honeybees, which are critical to food production and have been dying off at alarming rates.
The restrictions are aimed at protecting bees from "pesticides that are acutely toxic" to them, and would cover foliar applications when certain plants are in bloom and when commercial honeybees are being used to pollinate crops, the Environmental Protection Agency said in an 18-page outline of the rule. In foliar applications, the pesticide is put on the plant.
Honeybees pollinate plants that produce roughly a quarter of the food consumed by Americans, and beekeepers travel around the country with managed hives to help the process.
The rule, due to be published in the Federal Register on Friday, would apply to pesticide applications to blooming crops where bees have been contracted to pollinate and would cover 76 active ingredients used in pesticides, including a popular class of insecticide known as neonicotinoids.
Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said that honeybees had disappeared at a staggering rate over the last year. Losses of managed honeybee colonies hit 42.1 percent from April 2014 through April 2015, up from 34.2 percent for 2013-2014, and the second-highest annual loss to date, according to the USDA.
Commercial beekeepers reported adverse effects from pesticide applications to roughly 20,000 bee colonies pollinating almonds and roughly 2,000 colonies contracted to pollinate blueberries in 2014, and there are claims of tens of thousands more colonies similarly affected, the EPA said.
Beekeepers, environmental groups and some scientists say neonicotinoids, or neonics - used on crops such as corn as well as on plants used in lawns and gardens - are harming the bees.
But Bayer, Syngenta and other agrichemical companies that sell neonic products say mite infestations and other factors are the cause.
The White House has formed a task force to study the issue, and the EPA said Thursday it continues to conduct "chemical-specific risk assessments for bees" and will consider additional product-specific mitigation efforts.
Critics said the plan falls short because it does nothing about neonics used in seed treatments, applied before the seed is planted. The seed treatments have long-term damaging effects on bees as the neonics persist in the environment, critics say.
"EPA needs to take the next step and ban these poisoned seeds,” said Lori Ann Burd, environmental health director for the Center for Biological Diversity.
Ace Is Now the Place With Fewer Bee-Killing Pesticides
The hardware chain moves to eliminate products containing insecticides linked to pollinator deaths.
MAY 27, 2015Taylor Hill
Ace Hardware had been the holdout when it came to removing pesticides linked to the mass die-off of honeybees that pollinate a third of the world’s crops.
Big-box competitor Home Depot announced last year that it would require suppliers to label plants sprayed with neonicotinoid (neonic) pesticides. In April, Lowe’s said it would phase out the sale of neonic-treated plants.
Now Ace has caught the buzz. On Tuesday, the world’s largest retailer-owned hardware co-op said it is “willing to move away” from selling plants containing neonicotinoids.
The move comes two weeks after President Barack Obama released a strategy to save the bees, including examining the impact of neonics and other pesticides.
“We’re committed to providing our customers with products that not only meet their needs, but that are also in compliance with applicable laws and regulations from environmental agencies and regulators,” Frank Carroll, Ace Hardware’s vice president of merchandising, said in a statement.
Details on when neonicotinoid products will be removed from store shelves were not released, and an Ace representative did not respond to a request for comment.
Each Ace Hardware store owner has wide latitude in choosing what products to offer.
For Michelle Leopold, owner of a Marin County, California, Ace Hardware store, corporate headquarters’ move to eliminate neonics was overdue. Leopold has been selling neonicotinoid-free plants since 2013, when she saw a documentary about bees called Queen of the Sun.
“I just realized that I can have an impact on the bees since I owned this store, and we provided a lot of the plants to gardeners in the region,” Leopold said.
She educated herself on what neonic-class pesticides were lurking in the products on her shelves, too, and self-labeled them.
“For the most part, people here stopped buying those labeled products because they really care what’s going into the water and into the environment,” Leopold said.
Bee expert Tiffany Finck-Haynes of the environmental group Friends of the Earth said she hopes Ace’s announcement means the chain will take neonic-containing lawn and garden products—such as Bayer’s Power Force multipurpose insect killer, Ortho’s flower fruit and vegetable insect killer, and Scotts’ Rose Pride rose and flower insect killer—off the shelves so more backyards are safer for bees.
She said Ace’s decision could have been due in part to the thousands of petition signatures and calls sent in from citizens demanding that neonics be removed from store products.
“In the past year, more than 20 nurseries, landscaping companies, and retailers have taken steps to eliminate bee-killing pesticides from their stores,” Finck-Haynes said.
Wild Bees Could Save Our Crops—If We Save Them
A new study shows that wild bees need natural habitat to survive trips to pesticide-laden orchards and farms.
JUN 4, 2015 by Taylor Hill
Wild bees, the original pollinators of the United States’ food supply, are suffering from pesticides just as much, if not more, than their European-descended, commercially bred brethren, according to a new study.
In a paper published Wednesday in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, scientists discovered just how important natural habitat is in protecting native pollinators from the negative affects of both pesticides and supposed “bee-safe” fungicides.
Wild honeybee populations and diversity of species were recorded at 19 apple orchards in various parts of New York in 2011–2012. Scientists collected bees in insect nets for 15-minute periods at each location to obtain standardized samples.
Researchers also gauged the spraying of pesticides and fungicides at each orchard and surveyed the amount of surrounding natural, bee-friendly habitat.
The findings were clear: The more intense the pesticide use in a given orchard, the fewer wild bees and number of species were found. However, more natural habitat around a given orchard blunted the effect of pesticides on wild bee populations.
“The differences we saw from one site to the next were stark,” said study coauthor Bryan Danforth, a Cornell University entomology professor. “We would see 45 different wild bee species in one site, and only five in another.”
Danforth pointed out that other factors—such as the soil quality that ground-dwelling solitary bee species like—could have influenced population numbers from one site to another, and that further testing is needed.
Mia Park, the study’s lead author and a University of North Dakota professor, said the effect of pesticides on wild bees was strongest in the generation that followed pesticide exposure. That suggests pesticides are interfering with wild bee reproduction.
“What we’re trying to find out is the role of the wild bees on pollination outside of the work the honeybee does,” Danforth said.
For the past three years, Danforth has been surveying Cornell University’s 37-acre apple orchard. The site went commercial honeybee–free in 2012, leaving its flowers and future fruits to be pollinated naturally.
“The orchard manager hasn’t noticed any difference in fruit set, and we’ve realized we don’t need honeybees to be trucked in here,” Danforth said.
So, Why Should You Care?
About 35 percent of the world’s food production relies on pollination by honeybees, whose numbers have plummeted over the past decade. Beekeepers report 30 to 40 percent losses in bee colonies each year—much higher than what has been considered “sustainable.”
The reason for the honeybee die-offs has been pinned to a range of factors, including neonicotinoid pesticides, fungicides, hive-invading microscopic mites, and even the stresses of truck transport.
“There are a lot of things when it comes to honeybee health that we can’t control,” Danforth said. “If we keep trucking them around the country, the cost of pollinating fields is going to keep going up as the colonies keep declining.”
America needs to “diversify its pollinator portfolio,” he said, and recognize the benefits of wild bees.
Wild bees are better and more efficient pollinators than their foreign brethren, but they don’t get nearly enough credit for their role in pollinating the $30 billion worth of crops annually, Danforth said.
Now, Danforth and his colleagues are looking to put an economic value on wild bees. That study is still in its early stages, but he expects the results to indicate that wild bees are responsible for pollinating at least as much, if not more, than honeybees on the East Coast of the United States.
“What we’re seeing is that native bees are very valuable to New York farms, and what they need is more native habitat,” he said.
France Bans the World’s Leading Herbicide From Garden Stores
The move follows the World Health Organization’s finding that Monsanto’s Roundup is a probable carcinogen.
JUN 15, 2015Taylor Hill
Walk into any neighborhood garden store and you’ll most likely find weed-killing jugs of chemicals right next to the tulips, daisies, and bird feeders.
But that will no longer be the case in France.
On Sunday, Ségolène Royal, the environment and energy minister, announced a plan to ban Roundup from all garden=store shelves in the country.
The reason? The world’s most popular weed killer contains glyphosate—a chemical the World Health Organization in March determined to be “probably carcinogenic to humans.”
“France must be on the offensive with regards to the banning of pesticides,” Royal said Sunday on French 3TV.
It’s a blow to U.S.-based biotech giant Monsanto, which first developed glyphosate-based Roundup products 40 years ago. In the 1990s, the company introduced “Roundup Ready” genetically modified crops that can withstand glyphosate. That led to widespread use of the herbicide in corn and soybean fields around the world. Now, the International Agency for Research on Cancer says there’s “limited evidence” that exposure to Roundup aids in the formation of non-Hodgkin lymphoma in humans, based on studies conducted on farm workers in the U.S., Canada, and Sweden.
“Under the conditions recommended on the label, the product does not present any particular risk for the user,” a company representative said to Reuters in an email. Monsanto executives contend that the IARC’s findings on glyphosate didn’t include the “full body of science” on the herbicide.
“In total, 160 nations have reviewed the scientific record and have concluded that glyphosate is safe for use,” Monsanto states on its website—but that should probably be changed to 159 now.
Glyphosate now shows up in everything from honey to soy sauce and flour, said Paul Towers, spokesperson for the Pesticide Action Network North America.
“The international community has sent a wake-up call to the U.S., underscoring the point that industrial agriculture is a disaster in the making,” Towers said.
So, Why Should You Care? As weeds become more resistant to herbicides like glyphosate, the spraying of glyphosate-based Roundup has increased. More than 88,000 tons of glyphosate were used in the U.S. in 2007, compared with 11,000 tons in 1992. That means more human exposure to a potentially carcinogenic chemical.
Glyphosate has also been linked to the precipitous decline in monarch butterflies. The herbicide can kill milkweed, which is monarch caterpillars’ sole food source.
“Eliminating Roundup, as France has done, will help protect the iconic monarch butterflies, and we believe that other countries, including the U.S., must address Roundup and glyphosate use…as it has essentially wiped out milkweed,” said Tiffany Finck-Haynes, a pollinator expert at Friends of the Earth.
President Obama’s national pollinator strategy, released last month, didn’t propose curtailing glyphosate or other chemicals known to be harmful to pollinators. Instead, it focused on setting aside “pollinator friendly” land while inviting more research on a class of pesticides called neonicotinoids.
“There is a need for a countrywide transition to least-toxic ecological weed management,” Towers said. “The new plan must break the cycle of weed resistance that keeps farmers on a pesticide treadmill and phase out reliance on health-harming herbicides.”
France Bans Monsanto’s Roundup as Environmental Groups Push for Stronger Safety Standards
Jun 17, 2015
Court Sides with the Bees, Overturns EPA Approval of a Pesticide
Sep 13, 2015
Written by Margaret Badore
Appeals court calls EPA approval of bee-threatening pesticide “based on flawed and limited data.”
A federal appeals court has overturned the Environmental Protection Agency’s approval of the pesticide sulfoxaflor, citing the threat to already vulnerable bee populations. Sulfoxaflor is used in several products manufactured by Dow AgroSciences for use on fruits, vegetables and grains. It’s sold under the brand names Closer and Transform.
The EPA approved sulfoxaflor, which belongs to a classes of pesticides called neonicotinoids, back in 2013. But prior to approval, even the EPA seemed concerned about the dangers the pesticide posed to bees, and asked for more data. However, according to the court opinion, approval was granted before the additional studies were completed.
A growing body of research implicates neonicotinoids in the global decline of bee populations. A recent assessment by the European Food Safety Authority found that several types of these pesticides pose a ‘high risk’ to bees.
The court ruling is the outcome of a lawsuit filed by a group of beekeepers against the EPA. Although the ruling does not affect the many other types of neonicotinoid pesticides on the market, it may set an important precedent. Greg Loarie, an attorney for EarthJustice who represented the beekeepers in the suit, told Mother Jones that the ruling shows the EPA must ask for robust data from pesticide manufacturers. Future studies should show that pesticides are not only safe for individual bees, but also safe for the entire hive.
“Without sufficient data, the EPA has no real idea whether sulfoxaflor will cause unreasonable adverse effects on bees,” stated the court decision.
That’s important, because colony collapse disorder is a complicated phenomenon that may be caused by a confluence of environmental threats. It seems likely that a buildup of sublethal exposure to pesticides may have ripple effects for the larger colony.
The court concludes: “In this case, given the precariousness of bee populations, leaving the EPA’s registration of sulfoxaflor in place risks more potential environmental harm than vacating it.”
Federal Court to EPA: No, You Can’t Approve This Pesticide That Kills Bees