USDA: Beekeepers Lost 44% of Honey Bee Colonies Last Year
On Tuesday the Bee Informed Partnership, in collaboration with the Apiary Inspectors of America and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), released its annual report on honey bee losses in the U.S. Beekeepers reported losing 44 percent of their total number of colonies managed over the last year—close to the highest annual loss in the past six years. These losses are considered too high to be sustainable for U.S. agriculture and the beekeeping industry.
“These honey bee losses reinforce what sciences continues to tell us; we must take immediate action to restrict pesticides contributing to bee declines,” Tiffany Finck-Haynes, food futures campaigner with Friends of the Earth, said. “The longer we wait, the worse the situation becomes. If we do not suspend neonicotinoid pesticides immediately, we risk losing our beekeepers and harming important ecosystem functions upon which our food supply depends.”
A large and growing body of science has attributed alarming bee declines to several key factors, including exposure to the world’s most widely used class of insecticides, neonicotinoids. States, cities, universities, businesses and federal agencies in the U.S. have passed measures to restrict the use of these pesticides due to delay by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). However, these pesticides are still widely used despite mounting evidence that they kill bees outright and make them more vulnerable to pests, pathogens and other stressors.
In April 2015, the EPA announced a moratorium on new or expanded uses of neonicotinoids while it evaluates the risks posed to pollinators. In January 2016, the EPA released its preliminary pollinator risk assessment for the neonicotinoid imidacloprid and found it poses risks to honey bees.
The EPA is primarily relying on states and tribes to develop pollinator protection plans to address pesticide use, which was an initiative started by the Pollinator Health Task Force, a group established by President Obama’s Presidential Memorandum on pollinators.
This past year, the USDA, a co-chair of the Pollinator Health Task Force, was reported to suppress and silence its own scientists for speaking to the harms of neonicotinoids and glyphosate—an herbicide that is a leading contributor to monarch decline.
“The EPA is passing the buck to states and our regulatory agencies are letting the pesticide industry pull the wool over their eyes instead of seeking solutions,” Finck-Haynes said. “The EPA, USDA and Congress must adopt a federal, unified plan that eliminates the use of systemic pesticides to protect bees and beekeepers.”
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
By Itai Vardi
A recent intensification in protests against Williams Partners' planned Atlantic Sunrise pipeline in Pennsylvania prompted a state senator to propose legislation aimed at limiting demonstrations.
Last month, Pennsylvania Sen. Scott Martin (R-Norman) announced his intention to introduce legislation that would pass the costs of law enforcement responding to protests onto the demonstrators. Martin also helped introduce a different bill that would criminalize protests at natural gas facilities.
The so-called "first and last mile" problem is one of the biggest hurdles with public transportation. How do you encourage more people to take Earth-friendlier commutes when their homes are miles away from the train or bus station?
One solution, as this Estonian electric scooter company proposes, is to simply take your commute with you—literally. Tallinn-based Stigo has developed a compact e-scooter that folds to the size of a rolling suitcase in about two seconds.
[Editor's note: I'm still in shock after hearing the news that Lucia Grenna passed away in her sleep last week. When we first met in April of 2014 at a Copenhagen hotel, I was immediately taken by here powerful presence. We spent the next couple days participating in a Sustainia climate change event where Lucia presented her audacious plans to connect people to the climate issue. I had the chance to partner with Lucia on several other projects throughout the years and work with her incredible Connect4Climate team. I was always in awe of her ability to "make the impossible possible." Her spirit will live on forever. — Stefanie Spear]
It is with a heavy heart that Connect4Climate announces the passing of its founder and leading light, Lucia Grenna. Lucia passed peacefully in her sleep on June 15, well before her time. We remember her for her leadership and extraordinary ability to motivate people to take on some of the greatest challenges of our time, not least climate change.
By Stacy Malkan
Neil deGrasse Tyson has inspired millions of people to care about science and imagine themselves as participants in the scientific process. What a hopeful sign it is to see young girls wearing t-shirts emblazoned with the words, "Forget princess, I want to be an astrophysicist."
As Trevor Noah noted during The Daily Show episode last night (starts at 2:25), the real reason Trump has these rallies is to "get back in front of his loyal crowds and feed of their energy." Noah believes that "Trump supporters are so on board with their dude he can say anything and they'll come along for the ride."
By Katie O'Reilly
Two years ago—long before coal became one of the most dominant and controversial symbols of the 2016 presidential election—Bloomberg Philanthropies approached production company RadicalMedia with the idea of creating a documentary exploring the U.S. coal mining industry. Last spring, they brought on Emmy-nominated director Michael Bonfiglio, tasked with forging a compelling story out of the multitudes of facts, statistics and narratives underlying the declining industry.