Honey bees: We need 'em, and they're in trouble
Happy Pollinator Week! We're celebrating here at PAN by calling attention to the plight of honey bees, and what can be done about it.
What plight is that, you ask? Bees are actually in serious trouble, and our food and farming systems rely heavily on these vital pollinators.
One in three bites of the food we eat — including summer favorites like raspberries, strawberries and watermelon — are pollinated by these amazing little creatures. Since about 2006, bees have been dying off in droves, and scientists say pesticides are part of the reason why.
The worst losses yet
Our beekeeper partners are reporting the worst bee losses yet this year — somewhere between 40-70%. Some are actually closing up shop, as they can't afford to keep replacing their hives.
A group of widely used pesticides called "neonicotinoids" (neonics for short) are, researchers say, a primary catalyst of bee die-offs. One study showed that exposure to neonics can scramble bee brain function so they're unable to smell or remember — both key to successful foraging. Scary.
Other factors contributing to bee woes include habitat loss, pathogens and poor nutrition. But despite the protestations (and recent "bee-washing" efforts) of Big 6 pesticide corporations like Monsanto, Bayer and Syngenta, the fact is that pesticides are part of the problem.
Europe has already done something about it, recently taking the worst of the bee-toxic chemicals off the market. But EPA has yet to step up.
What you can do
Join PAN and our partners Beyond Pesticides and Center for Food Safety as we mark this year's Pollinator Week by celebrating — and taking action to protect — honey bees.
Here's a roundup of events and activities you can join, online and across the country:
- Daily Twitter Chat :: Every day at 10-11am PT/1-2pm ET, follow #PollinatorChat. Share facts, ask questions and hear directly from beekeepers about their experiences in the field.
- Sign the petition calling on EPA to step up and protect bees.
- Upload photos of bees or your garden to our Honey Bee Haven site - and add your haven to the map!
- Download our organizing toolkit, and invite your friends and family to a house party or film screening. Watch Vanishing of the Bees or Queen of the Sun, or this in-depth report — “Bee Aware” — from Dan Rather.
- Create a community Honey Bee Haven, or become a member of PAN to receive a Honey Bee Haven sign for your front step, garden or farm. Make sure to put your sign in a visible place to jumpstart conversations with neighbors!
- This Friday, join the Center for Food Safety and Beyond Pesticides in Washington, DC at the USDA People’s Garden and Farmers Market, 10am -2pm. For those who can’t attend, enjoy fruits and vegetables pollinated at your local farmer’s market or store. Check out this list of pollinator dependent crops.
For more information and ways to get involved, be in touch with my colleague Paul Towers at email@example.com or 415-625-9072. And Happy Pollinator Week to you!!