Letter: Pay attention to plight of honeybees
To the editor,
In the past decade, the honey bee population has been on the decline and according to Greg Hunt, a Purdue professor of behavioral genetics, “The United States is losing about one-third of its honey bee hives each year.” It seems the big honey bee killer is a neonicotinoid (imidacloprid) insecticides and a fungicide (chlorothalonil) used to protect the crop seed after planting.
Neonicotinoid insecticide I a sticky coating on the seed and in order to keep seeds from jamming the planting systems it is mixed with talc. The excess talc blows around and lands on nearby crops and flowers, causing a toxic dust to settle on everything. The bees ingest these pesticides and fungicides, bring them back to the hive and feed the larva, killing both the adult and offspring.
Honey bees help pollenate over 1,200 crops per year, producing one-third of the world’s food. Research done by the USDA notes, “The value of the honeybee to commercial agriculture at $15 billion to $20 billion annually.” In light of the honey bee’s value the ARS scientists and collaborators have conducted a study coming up with this conclusion: “The impact of exposure to the neonicotinoid and Nosema. While the dual exposure indicated some sub-lethal effects on individual honey bees, there was not enough evidence to deem it toxic.” How can that be when on April 2013 the European Union, for a short two years, banned many of the pesticides and fungicides contributing to the loss of bees? Prior to that, in 2008, Germany revoked the use of these same chemicals after hundreds of their honey bee colonies died off due to pesticide and fungicide.
This serious plummet in the honey bee population has caused scientists globally to heed Albert Einstein’s warning, “If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would have only four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man.” We should be taking Einstein’s warning serious too. Start by purchasing fresh foods from local farmers that grow organically. Plant a variety of flowers in your back yard that bloom during different times of the season to help support the bees through early spring to the end of fall. Some cities will help fund landowners’ gardens that support honey bee health, to find out check with your local city office. Lastly, spread the word.