Thursday, March 10, 2011

Bill To Save The Bees

We need to tell our federal and state representatives they need to submit a bill to ban neonicotinoids to save our honey bees. We can get them to do this by writing letters/emails to them. I am sharing a recent letter I sent out to my U.S. congressman, U.S. senators and my state senator and representative in Oregon. I am working both on the federal and state level to get bills passed. If we are unable to get our federal representatives to submit a bill perhaps we can at least get a state bill passed. (For details on why this is important, go to

Below is the actual letter I sent to Congressman Peter DeFazio.  Please copy and use this letter to send to your representatives. It helps to add your personal point of view. You can also write an entirely new letter. It is always more powerful to use your own words. However, if you don't have time, please copy and send this one, but change the representatives name and sign your name on the bottom. I am including a link here that will allow you to easily look up your federal and state representatives names and contact address/email/phone numbers.

 Actual Letter  

Peter DeFazio 
405 East 8th Ave. #2030
Eugene, OR 97401

Re: Solution to Honey Bee Die Off

Dear Congressman DeFazio,

Our honey bees are going extinct and Bee keepers finally know why. We just need to do something about it. You have the ability to introduce a bill that will save the honey bees. Albert Einstein said “If the bee disappears from the surface of the Earth, man would have no more than four years left to live.”

You can save our honey bees and the one out of every three foods they alone are responsible for pollinating. Without the honey bees 1/3 of our food crops would not be pollinated and our diet would become severely restricted. Additionally we need the honey bees, and leaf cutting bees to pollinate alfalfa. There are 23 million acres of alfalfa in the United States. Alfalfa is fed to most dairy animals and some beef animals. Alfalfa is integral to milk production. Lactating animals need a lot of energy to keep up the milk production. Alfalfa is the primary source of energy for these animals on most dairy farms. The dairy industry needs the honey bees.

Until now, beekeepers did not know what was killing the bees. However, recent research points to the use of a group of pesticides called neonicotinoids. The manufacturers have been trying to implicate disease as the causative factor, but research now proves that it is these insecticides that are the main culprit. Neonicotinoids have already been banned in Italy, France and Germany. Italy has recently announced that one year after their ban the bees are back again!

No one has yet proposed a bill to ban neonicotinoids in our country. I am hoping you will be the one to do this.

I have attached additional information regarding this urgent matter below. Please take a look at the following short document to get a better understanding of the situation. I have also included the name and phone number of an OSU researcher who can give you additional data.

The Honey Bee Problem

Each year United States beekeepers lose 30-40% of their hives. This can't keep up. Some of them are going out of business. One large U.S. beekeeper named David Hackenberg who has been keeping bees for almost half a century, has recently reported a 70% loss of bees. Who will pollinate our food if not for the honey bees? Although there are other pollinators, the honey bees are alone responsible for pollinating 1/3 of all the fruits and vegetables we eat. Do we want to lose 1/3 of our food supply? We must save the bees for their own sake as well as ours. This drastic decrease in worldwide bee numbers is indicative of an environmental disaster. Many beekeepers are convinced this disaster is due to insecticides being used on orchards and farmland that the bees pollinate. This massive demise in our bees seems to have started with the introduction of one specific type of insecticide group called the neonicotinoids.

Brand Names of various chemical neonicotinoids:
Clothianidin: Poncho, Titan, Clutch, Belay, Arena.
Imidacloprid: Admire, Advantage, Confidor, Gaucho, Marathon, Merit, Premeir, Provado, Bayer Advanced, Rose Defense, Kohinor,  Hachikusan, Premise, Prothor, Legend and Winner. 
Thiamethoxam: Actara, Crusier, Platinum, Helix, Centric, Adage, Meridian and Flagship
Acetamiprid: Assail, Intruder, Adjust
Thiacloprid: Calypso

Some Countries Ban Neonicotinoids to Save the Bees
Some countries have put various bans on the use of neonicotinoids. These countries include France, Germany, Slovenia and Italy.  It has recently been noted that one year after placing bans on neonicotinoids in Italy, the bees came back. We want our bees back in the U.S. We must ban these neonicotinoids.

Research Confirms Bee Death Due To Neonicotinoids
Research by Dr Jeffrey Pettis and his team at the US Department of Agriculture’s Bee Research Laboratory has shown that very low levels of imidacloprid (even microscopic doses) make the honey bees more vulnerable to infections.

Pettis exposed two groups of bees to the well-known bee disease agent Nosema. One of the groups was also fed tiny doses of the neonnicotinoid imidacloprid. There was a higher uptake of infection in the bees fed the insecticide, even though the insecticide could not subsequently be detected, which raises the possibility that such a phenomenon occurring in the wild might be simply undetectable.

Although the US study has not been published, French researchers at the National Institute for Agricultural Research in Avignon have independently carried out similar research and published their study in the journal Environmental Microbiology. They stated “We demonstrated that the interaction between nosema and a neonicotinoid (imidacloprid) significantly weakened honey bees.”

Professor Vincenzo Girolami from the University of Padua published research in the J. Econ. Entomol. 102 (5): 1808-1815 (2009) that examined the bee neonicotinoid affect by looking at corn grown from seed that was coated in neonicotinoids and how it effects the bees.  The research showed that the neonicotinoid coated seed grew corn that was deadly to the bees. It shows that bees drinking the poisoned guttation drops (kind of like dew drops but something the plant exudes) dropped dead within a few minutes.  Professor Girolami grew plants from neonicotinoid-coated maize seeds and observed that the concentration of these active substances in the guttation exudate from the corn leaves  is comparable with the pesticide solutions that are used to treat orchards. Bees are basically sucking concentrated poison. This effect would obviously persist even if the industry found a way of enclosing maize seeds within a smooth, biodegradable plastic coating, which would at least eliminate dispersion during sowing, though. (During dispersion of these coated seeds they kick up a dust from the coated seeds that also kills the bees if they fly through it.)

Why are Honey Bees Susceptible:
Through mapping of the bee genome it became apparent that bees have a significantly reduced capacity to detoxify chemicals when compare with other insects. They are susceptible to sub-lethal exposures of pesticides. In respect to the neonicotinoids, it has been found that the honey bees have a  higher number of neurological receptors that are targeted by neonicotinoids than other insects. Many of the bees behaviors such as building honeycomb, the “waggle dance” that they communicate with and other behaviors are complex and necessitate a fully functioning nervous system. It is thought that the disruption of the neurological signaling by neonicotinoids causes them to become disoriented and impairs their ability fly, to forage, communicate with each other, discriminate smells (very important to the bee), effects their learning and weakens their immune system.

More Details Available
You can get more detailed information from Dr. Ramesh Sagili who is a researcher in the Department of Horticulture at the Oregon State University. His primary focus at OSU is honeybee health, nutrition and pollination.

Dr. Ramesh Sagili
Department of Horticulture
4017 Ag. and Life Sciences Bldg.
Corvallis, Oregon 97331-7304
Phone: 541-737-5460
Fax: 541-737-3479

Thank you for taking the time to read and consider this ecologically/economically serious matter. Please let me know if I can be of additional assistance in this matter. I look forward to hearing back from your office and hope you will be introducing a bill to save the honey bees in the near future.

Respectfully Yours,

Dr. Sharol Tilgner