I’ve been reading a lot about this issue, and it’s complicated, and yes of course controversial. I’ve found that unfortunately this act has very little chance of passing. BUT, I believe it’s important that we as beekeepers (and food eaters) let our representatives know that we care about our pollinators and an uncontaminated food supply and that there are other voices out here that don’t agree with the current state of our agriculture and the overuse of pesticides. So, here’s my article.
Neonicotinoids and the Save America’s Pollinators Act of 2013—What Beekeepers and Concerned Citizens Can Do
When my husband and I kept bees years ago there wasn’t much to worry about other than foulbrood and wax moths. Now we’ve started beekeeping again and we’re amazed at the number of problems honey bees have to deal with. A very worrisome threat to our bees and other wildlife today is from neonicotinoids.
Most beekeepers have heard of neonicotinoids, systemic pesticides which are suspected to play a role in Colony Collapse Disorder. But many don’t realize how much these chemicals are used in the U.S. and what effects they are having. We don’t think about what our neighbors might be spraying on their lawns and gardens or about what a local park’s staff is pouring around the trees. We don’t know what might be on the seeds we’re planting or how these chemicals might continue to affect insects, including our honeybees. But here are some things we should consider:
Neonicotinoids are the most widely used insecticides in the world and have covered millions of acres. They are systemic insecticides that make an entire plant toxic to insects.
During the winter beginning in 2012 and ending in 2013, United States beekeepers, on average, lost 45.1 percent of the colonies they operate.
According to scientists of the Department of Agriculture, current estimates of the survival of honey bee colonies show they are too low to be able to meet the pollination demands of United States agricultural crops.
Scientists have linked the use of systemic neonicotinoid insecticides to the rapid decline of pollinators and to the deterioration of pollinator health.
Neonicotinoids cause sub lethal effects including impaired foraging and feeding behavior, disorientation, weakened immunity, delayed larval development, difficulty learning new tasks, and increased susceptibility to viruses, diseases, and parasites. Numerous studies have also demonstrated acute, lethal effects from the application of neonicotinoid insecticides. In June 2013, over 50,000 bumblebees were killed in Oregon as a direct result of exposure to a neonicotinoid applied for cosmetic purposes to linden trees near a store parking lot.
The toxic effects of these chemicals can last for years in pollen and nectar from just one application. Scientists studying the Oregon bumblebee kill are concerned that the linden trees may be toxic to pollinators during every flowering season for years to come.
Other organisms are suffering devastating effects: Neonicotinoid contamination levels in water are killing aquatic invertebrates, and recent science has demonstrated that a single corn kernel coated with a neonicotinoid is toxic enough to kill a songbird.
In January 2013, the European Food Safety Authority determined that the most widely used neonicotinoids pose unacceptable hazards to bees, prompting the European Union to suspend their use on agricultural crops.
On July 17th, Representatives John Conyers and Earl Blumenauer introduced H.R. 2692, the Save America’s Pollinators Act. This Act directs the EPA to suspend use of the most toxic neonicotinoids for use in seed treatment, soil application, or foliar treatment within 180 days and to review these chemicals and make a new determination about their proper application and safe use.
Our honey bees have enough problems without being poisoned by neonicotinoids. Let your representative in Congress know that you want to see this Act passed. For more information and an easy way to contact your representative, see
“It’s Time for a Neonicotinoid Time Out” at Scientific American.com
“Killer in a Bottle?” CFANS, University of Minnesota