June 17-23, 2013 is National Pollinator Week where honeybees, bumblebees, butterflies, hummingbirds, bats, wasps, ants, moths, and some small mammals are celebrated for providing us with fruits, nuts, and vegetables. Yet, the celebration that often awaits bees, and other pollinators in this blooming season is a deadly concoction of pesticides, misapplied in violation of the EPA regulated label. Since March 2013 pesticide misuse has killed and severely damaged 3,312 colonies. The livestock loss to these beekeepers in four states is $828,000 to $1,656,000.
Beekeepers who experience a loss of their livestock, a bee kill, due to misuse of pesticides are helpless: no government or insurance program reimburses their lost livestock.
If a rancher went to his field one morning and discovered 1300 dead cattle or sheep at a value of $179,400 to $195,000 he has legal recourse to even call the Sheriff to help determine who killed his livestock. Beekeepers can only call the State Agricultural Dept. That State Ag Dept. may do an investigation, and then again they may not have the funds to do an investigation. When your business loses $260,000 in livestock, you are now unable to meet your crop pollination contracts, and those 1300 hives will not produce honey this year. Due to these losses, caused by others through their misuse of pesticides, the beekeeper goes out of business.
The diversity of our food supply relies on pollination by managed, and native bees, and other pollinators. Yet, bees, and other pollinators continue to suffer the effects of the misuse of pesticides. So far in 2013 bee kills due to pesticide misuse have been experienced in:
- Florida 1000-1500 hives killed; 10,000 to 13,000 severely damaged
- Minnesota 1312 hives experienced death, and severe damage
- New York 300 hives killed
- Utah 200 hives experienced death, and moderate damage in three separate bee yards.
The goal of the regulation of pesticides, and the Congressional enactment of FIFRA is to make sure pesticide poisonings do not happen. FIFRA section 12(a)(2)(G) and section 2(ee) state that “it shall be unlawful for any person to use any registered pesticide in a manner inconsistent with its labeling. So, if the label states “do not apply the pesticide when crops are in bloom and bees are actively foraging;” then, applying a pesticide when the plants are blooming, and it is daylight would be a violation of the label.
Let’s celebrate National Pollinator Week through the responsible and legal use of pesticides according to the label. Let’s celebrate National Pollinator Week by protecting and respecting all agricultural livestock including managed honeybees. Let’s celebrate National Pollinator Week by supporting native habitat for all pollinators.