Between 1947 and 2005, bee colony numbers declined by 40%, from 5.9 million to 2.4 million. Despite scientists’ efforts to understand – or stop – the phenomena, the trend has only increased in recent decades. Now, it’s projected that if Colony Collapse Disorder continues at the current rate, populations of managed honey bees will completely disappear by 2035.
For a number of reasons, this is a frightening prospect. Just take a look at what supermarkets would look like if bees were to die out.
Because the tiny, bumbling insects play an important role in the ecosystem, activists of all kinds participated in a coast-to-coast tour in the United States called Keep The Hives Alive Tour. The purpose was to raise awareness about the likely link between use of neonicotinoids or neonics, a widely-used class of pesticides, and Colony Collapse Disorder.
EcoWatch relays that after making stops in California, South Dakota, Minnesota, Michigan, Pennsylvania and North Carolina, farmers, food advocates, and environmentalists made one final stop at a rally outside the headquarters of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Not only did the activists present 4 million signatures urging an immediate ban on bee-killing pesticides to officials of the EPA and members of Congress, over 200 letters from businesses and organizations in opposition to using neonics were handed over.
To prevent things from becoming messy, the 2.6 million dead bees stayed on the truck.
One Minnesota-based beekeeper, James Cook, is concerned about the future of bees:
“In the five years since I started keeping bees, I’ve seen many hives killed by pesticides. If some fundamental things don’t change, it’s going to be really hard for beekeepers to adapt to the environment around us.”
More than one study has indicated that the widely-used class of pesticides is to blame for bee die-offs. In fact, Chensheng (Alex) Lu, associate professor of environmental exposure biology at HSPH, commented:
“We demonstrated again in this study that neonicotinoids are highly likely to be responsible for triggering CCD in honey bee hives that were healthy prior to the arrival of winter.”
Anna Aurilio, the director of the Washington, DC, office of Environment America, urges for quick action. She says:
“Given the facts we have at hand about the links between neonics and bee die-offs, officials should move boldly and swiftly to stop any and all uses of these dangerous chemicals.”
“The science is clear and convincing. To be truly effective, we need a nationwide policy to protect our pollinators before the crisis gets completely out of control,” said Del. Anne Healey, sponsor of Maryland’s Pollinator Protection Act, the first bill passed in the U.S. to eliminate consumer use of neonics.
Scott Nash, the CEO of Mom’s Organic Market, speaks for most when he says:
“What’s happening today to pollinators is no different than what happened 50 years ago with the collapse of the osprey, bald eagle and other bird and aquatic animal populations due to the use of DDT. If we allow the chemical agribusiness industry to continue these short-sighted practices, food costs will increase as food supplies diminish.”
Following is a video of the ‘Keep The Hives Alive’ tour:
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