Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Save The Honey Bees

The Current Scoop & What You Can Do!
Our bees keep disappearing. Bee Keepers try to keep up with the loss. Each year they loose 30-40% of their hives. This can't keep up. Some of them are going out of business. 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 loose 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 bee keepers 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.

If we don't buy it, they don't make it!
If you are a farmer or gardener, you can help the bees by not using neonicotinoid insecticides or seeds coated with neonicotinoids. Neonicotinoids include imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiamethoxam, acetamiprid, thiacloprid, and dinotefuran. The Brand names  are listed below.

Brand Names to Avoid!
Clothianidin: Poncho, Titan, Clutch, Belay, Arena. 
Imidacloprid: Admire, Advantage, Confidor, Gaucho, Marathon, Merit, Premeir, Provado, Bayer Advanced, Rose Defense, Kohinor,  Hachikusan, Premise, Prothor, and Winner.  
Thiamethoxam: Actara, Crusier, Platinum, Helix, Centric
Acetamiprid: Assail, Intruder, Adjust
Thiacloprid: Calypso

If you use insecticides, read the label and do not use any insecticide with one of these names listed in the label contents. (By the way, there are alternatives to insecticides.) Print this blog and put it in your purse or wallet so you have it with you when you go to the store to purchase an insecticide. (Print a few to share with friends.) Tell stores not to carry these products and explain why. Educate all your friends. Send this email to everyone who gardens. Especially educate those who use pesticides.

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 been noted that the year after placing bans on neonicotinoids, the bees come 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 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 honeybees.” 

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.)

What Can You Do?
It is obvious to any thinking person that we have a potentially devastating environmental problem on our hands. A problem that needs immediate action. In France the beekeepers took to the streets and burnt their empty bee hives that had once housed all their bees that were now dead. What are we willing to do. Everyone can stop buying and using neonicotinoids. We can all write to the EPA and USDA and tell them of your expectation that they will do something immediately. Tell your congress person you want a bill to ban these poisons. Write letters to your local paper. Do anything you can think of as we must act quickly.

We must take action now and tell the EPA and USDA to ban Bayer's insecticide imidacloprid and other neonicotinoid pesticides. I have two different places linked below that will allow you to have your voice heard by them.