Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

5 People Leading the Charge to Save the Honeybees

In 1974, a bored teenager picked up a book about bees in the library. Immediately fascinated by bees and the people who loved and cared for them, she went to work for a commercial beekeeper in New Mexico. “I never looked back,” Dr. Marla Spivak says.

Dr. Marla Spivak: Raising awareness of the declining bee population

Spivak, who now holds a doctorate in entomology from the University of Kansas, has recently turned her efforts to raising awareness of the declining bee population over the last decade, a situation with serious consequences. “Bees are the most important pollinators of flowering plants, which includes most fruits, vegetables and nuts in our diet,” she says. “Our nutrition, health and food supply depend on bees.”

Dr. Marla Spivak. Photo credit: Dan Marshall

In her lab at the University of Minnesota, Spivak breeds bees for hygienic behavior. “Hygienic bees are able to detect diseased and parasitized brood—immature bees—and weed them out of the nest,” she says. The Bee Squad, an extension and outreach program that runs from the lab, provides beekeeping services to businesses and helps educate and mentor urban beekeepers. But for those of us who aren’t scientists or beekeepers, Spivak offers a much simpler way to help bees: “Plant flowers.”

Rob & Chelsea McFarland: Welcoming bees to the city

Rob and Chelsea McFarland didn’t choose the bees; the bees chose them. “One day, we were out in the garden and a swarm showed up,” they say. Years later, the founders of the Los Angeles nonprofit HoneyLove are dedicated to training urban beekeepers and raising awareness of bees in cities.

Rob and Chelsea McFarland. Photo credit: Rebecca Cabage

As they learned more about—and fell in love with—honeybees, the McFarlands realized promoting bee habitat in cities was an important part of health and food sustainability. “We need to grow more of our food closer to home. That means growing food in the urban environment,” Rob says. “That means honeybees.”

Cities can even provide a safe haven for bees, Chelsea adds. “There are fewer pesticides in the city than in the traditional farmland setting,” she says. “Our bees are actually healthier in the city.”

HoneyLove’s mission is to spread that message through outreach and media presence. If there’s something he hopes they accomplish, Rob says, it’s “that the narrative has been changed from fear of bees to one of really embracing bees and welcoming bees into our community.”

Read page 1

Lori Ann Burd: Taking the fight to Washington, DC

In the battle for conservation, it’s nice to have someone like Lori Ann Burd on your side. Burd is the environmental health director at the Center for Biological Diversity, a veteran activist turned seasoned lawyer.

Lori Ann Burd

After advocating against Keystone XL and ­mountaintop-removal coal mining, Burd is now fighting the chemical industry’s use of pesticides, notably neonicotinoids. “They’re a new class of insecticide in which the entire plant is insecticidal,” Burd explains. “The plant is fine, but all parts of it are poisonous to bugs.” In March, Burd helped draft a letter urging President Obama to take action against the widespread use of these poisons and filed a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency for failing to fulfill its obligations under the Endangered Species Act.

“It’s hard to overestimate the importance of pollinators,” Burd says. “One out of three bites of food that we take requires pollination. What I’m trying to do is help people understand that the fate of humans is intertwined with the fate of all species.” And when asked what keeps her going in the face of constant challenge, she replies, “Winning.”

Sarah Hatton: Activist’s message beautifully written in dead bees

Sometimes you can’t understand the battle until you see the bodies. Quebec-based artist and beekeeper Sarah Hatton’s mathematical arrangements of dead honeybees are an entrancing and sobering reminder that human activity, like the use of neonicotinoid pesticides, is responsible for the death of bees on a mass scale.

Detail from “Cluster (Flower of Life).” Honeybees (Apis mellifera), resin on petri dishes, 2015. 46 x 36 inches.

After losing two of her own beehives, Hatton coped by transforming her dead bees into art. As the project gained attention, she saw the opportunity to raise awareness and help people understand the implications of bee colony collapse. Now other beekeepers donate their own casualties to her work.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

3 Problems With Obama’s Plan to Save the Bees

Thrilling Ted Talk Looks at the First 21 Days of a Bee’s Life

How Garden Centers Are Getting Toxic, Bee-Killing Pesticides Out of Their Plants and Off of Their Shelves

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

The CDC has emphasized that washing hands with soap and water is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Guido Mieth / Moment / Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control has emphasized that washing hands with soap and water is one of the most effective measures we can take in preventing the spread of COVID-19. However, millions of Americans in some of the most vulnerable communities face the prospect of having their water shut off during the lockdowns, according to The Guardian.

Read More Show Less
A California newt (Taricha torosa) from Napa County, California, USA. Connor Long / CC BY-SA 3.0

Aerial photos of the Sierra Nevada — the long mountain range stretching down the spine of California — showed rust-colored swathes following the state's record-breaking five-year drought that ended in 2016. The 100 million dead trees were one of the most visible examples of the ecological toll the drought had wrought.

Now, a few years later, we're starting to learn about how smaller, less noticeable species were affected.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Disinfectants and cleaners claiming to sanitize against the novel coronavirus have started to flood the market.
Natthawat / Moment / Getty Images

Disinfectants and cleaners claiming to sanitize against the novel coronavirus have started to flood the market, raising concerns for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which threatened legal recourse against retailers selling unregistered products, according to The New York Times.

Read More Show Less
A customer packs groceries in reusable bags at a NYC supermarket on March 1, 2020. Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images

The global coronavirus pandemic has thrown our daily routine into disarray. Billions are housebound, social contact is off-limits and an invisible virus makes up look at the outside world with suspicion. No surprise, then, that sustainability and the climate movement aren't exactly a priority for many these days.

Read More Show Less
Ingredients are displayed for the Old School Pinto Beans from the Decolonize Your Diet cookbook by Luz Calvo and Catriona Rueda Esquibel. Melissa Renwick / Toronto Star via Getty Images

By Molly Matthews Multedo

Livestock farming contributes to global warming, so eating less meat can be better for the climate.

Read More Show Less