Bees and Pesticides
Honey Bees Crisis | Colony Collapse Disorder
Who would have thought that the issue of bees and pesticides would make its way to national news thanks to Dan Rather. Bees are a necessity to the survival of our planet, whether you would like to think that or not. Jerry Seinfeld’s Bee Movie was about the crisis we would face as a planet if bees were ever wiped out from the face of the earth. Seinfeld took a more gentle approach towards the extinction of bees by pretending like they just went on strike, however in the end the bees were able to come back and save the day.
When it comes to the conversation on pesticides and bees, we all know that chemicals provide a permanent solution to the problem. But are bees really a problem? I get it, bee’s sting people. What is so terrifying about bees, that individuals feel the need to exterminate them from the face of this planet? Dan Rather looked into bees into 2006 and what we have come to know as the Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). Well now Dan Rather, host of Dan Rather Reports, says that its five years later and there has still not been any progress on behalf of Congress or the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) towards solving the drastic decline in the bee population, specifically honey bees.
Colony Collapse Disorder was a term given to describe the mysterious decline of the honeybee populations across the world beginning around 2006 according to the Panna.org. After the winter of 2005-2006 beekeepers in the United States have been losing up to 1/3 of their bees. Back in 2006 Dan Rather and his investigative team approached the subject of bees and pesticides thanks to the alarming truth that one in every three bites of food are dependent on pollination. After releasing his piece on Colony Collapse Disorder the EPA promised to find a solution to the problem, but so far the companies have failed to provide evidence that pesticides are not part of the cause.
Dan Rather mentions in his article on the Huffington Post that systemic pesticides are prime suspect right now. Google the chemical clothianidin, on the front page of the return search you will find the May 30th, 2003 release of an EPA factsheet on the pesticide that many say are killing off the bees.
The EPA released an article in July of 2008 regarding the drastic decline in Germany’s honeybee population. The EPA denied claims that the chemical clothianidin was the cause for the decrease in Germany’s bees however it contradicts what beekeepers and scientists both say about the issue of CCD, as well as their own records on the chemical. It comes as no surprise that what the EPA had to say about bees and clothianidin in 2003 is completely opposite of what they would say when confronted by individuals like Dan Rather, scientists and beekeepers 5 years later.
How does the pesticide clothianidin affect bees, specifically honey bees across the globe? Categorized by the EPA as an insecticide, clothianindin is known to be effective in combating the corn rootworm. Moreover the chemical is marked in the EPA’s toxic category III, (slightly toxic, slightly irritating).
But what does the chemical mean to the issue of CCD and bees? Clothianidin belongs to the family of nicotinoids, which are also known as systemic pesticides. Systemic pesticides are effective because rather than covering the plant, the chemical is absorbed, working from the inside out, resulting in the entire plant becoming toxic. Even though corn is not a plant that needs to be pollinated, we have been taught in education for years that the act of cross-pollination can also occur with wind. When the bees go to pollinate they run the risk of absorbing the pesticides and than bringing it back to the hive where it affects the adults, young bees and larvae.
With the EPA and Congress ignoring a potentially global issue, the Pesticide Action Network (PAN) and Beyond Pesticides decided that something had to be done in the United States as Germany, Italy and France had banned the use of neonicotinoid pesticides such as clothianidin. Teaming up with beekeepers and scientists across the United States Why? Well the EPA listed it they in their fact sheet, claiming that clothianidin could in fact affect the honey bees:
Creating a fact sheet PANNA.org covered the chemical clothianidin and CCD. How the EPA can stand behind it is beyond me. Something needs to be done regarding pesticides and bees. Bee Movie may not have been created to describe the crisis behind the extinction of bees, however it certainly fits the role just fine. Scientists, beekeepers and Dan Rather are urging that the EPA needs to take a better look at pesticides and honey bees before its too late.