Tag Archives: Pollinators:

VICTORY! EPA Cancels 12 Bee-Killing Pesticides

Anyone who loves the planet, the bees and food (isn?t that just about everyone?) will be celebrating thanks to the recent victory against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). That?s because, on May 20, 2019, the EPA announced its final notices for the registration of 12 neonicotinoid pesticides.

Known as neonics, this group of pesticides has been the bane of most environmentalists? existences for many years. They have long been known for destroying bee populations, building up in groundwater, killing frogs, worms, birds and fish. Largely used in agricultural applications such as soil treatments, seed treatments, commercial turf products, neonics have also been used on trees, animal insect treatments and even domestic lawn products.

The Center for Food Safety, Sierra Club, Beyond Pesticides, Center for Environmental Health, Pesticide Action Network and four commercial beekeepers: Steve Ellis, Jim Doan, Tom Theobald and Bill Rhodes banded together to initiate litigation against the EPA starting in March 2013. The environmentalists, food safety organizations and beekeepers spent the last 6 years holding the EPA accountable for its lack of diligence in preventing or addressing bee Colony Collapse Disorder and to demand that the EPA protect livelihoods, rural economies and the environment.

Monday?s announcement that the EPA is cancelling the registration of 12 neonicotinoid that are known to kill bees and endangered species is part of the settlement the EPA accepted as part of the litigation process.

Two years ago, a federal court ruled that the EPA systemically violated the Endangered Species Act (ESA)?a critical wildlife protection law, after noting that the government agency had unlawfully issued 59 pesticide registrations between 2007 and 2012 for a wide range of agricultural, landscaping and ornamental uses. Seeds coated with neonics are used on over 150 million acres of American soy, corn, cotton and other crops.

According to the Center for Food Safety, neonics are chemically-related to nicotine and interfere with the nervous system of insects, causing tremors, paralysis and death even when they are administered at extremely low doses. Unlike other pesticides, neonics become dispersed throughout plants, causing the entire plant to become toxic. When bees or other pollinators are exposed to the chemicals through the pollen, nectar, dust or even dew droplets on the plants, they suffer nervous system damage and ultimately death.

Neonics were heavily used in the mid-2000s, around the same time beekeepers noted vast colony losses of bees.

Regulatory agencies in the United States, Canada and many other countries have been lax on their legislation which currently allows the sale and use of these destructive products. According to the Lori Ann Burd, the director at the Center for Biological Diversity, the EPA had actually considered increasing the use of neonicotinoids.

In Canada, The David Suzuki Foundation, Friends of the Earth (Canada), Ontario Nature and The Wilderness Committee filed a lawsuit against the Canadian federal government for allowing the use of two common neonic pesticides that had already been banned in the European Union. Sadly, the Canadian case had a different outcome as the case was dismissed by the Canadian federal court for a supposed lack of merit earlier this month.

According to the David Suzuki Foundation, there is already extensive scientific evidence (over 1100 studies) of neonicotinoid-caused destruction to the environment, which includes:

  1. Becoming embedded into seeds that are planted
  2. Treated seeds are eaten by birds
  3. The dust from the seeds contaminates the air during planting
  4. Pollen and nectar eaten by bees is contaminated
  5. The insecticides wash into waterways like streams, rivers and oceans
  6. The soil is contaminated from year-after-year buildup

Of course, it is great news that the EPA has been forced to finally do the right thing. After all, without bees to pollinate food plants, our entire food supply is threatened.

Additionally, neonic exposures have been linked to human fatalities, developmental and neurological abnormalities, anencephaly, autism spectrum disorder, memory loss, liver cancer and tremors. Neonics have been found to affect receptors in the body that are critical to brain function, memory, cognition and behavior.

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Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM shares her food growing, cooking, preserving, and other food self-sufficiency adventures at FoodHouseProject.com. She is the publisher of the free e-newsletter World?s Healthiest News and an international best-selling and 20-time published book author whose works include: The Cultured Cook: Delicious Fermented Foods with Probiotics to Knock Out Inflammation, Boost Gut Health, Lose Weight & Extend Your Life. Follow her work.


VICTORY! EPA Cancels 12 Bee-Killing Pesticides

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Scientists figured out a simple way to discover what’s troubling bees.

We’ve seen big declines in wild bee populations. That’s not just bad for the fuzzy little bees; it could drive up prices for almonds, blueberries, and other pollinator-dependent treats.

The challenge is knowing what would help them. Do we focus on preserving habitat and flowers? Or should we focus on certain pesticides? Is climate change behind this, too? It’s hard to say because bees are hard to study. It’s relatively easy to count long-legged pronghorns or wide-winged condors compared to counting the gnat-sized Perdita minima, the world’s tiniest bee.

That’s why a research team at the University of Missouri has been putting little microphones in alpine meadows. When those mics record buzzing, the team’s software analyzes the noise to tell scientists the number and species of bees visiting. They just published a paper, showing that their methods work.

This breakthrough could allow regular folks to collect solid scientific data from the safety of their porch. Farmers could “monitor pollination of their orchards and vegetable crops and head off pollination deficits,” said Candace Galen, a biological science professor who led the university’s research team, in a news release.

Interested? The group is working on an app that would let you collect bee data with your smartphone.

Link to article:

Scientists figured out a simple way to discover what’s troubling bees.

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How Honeybees Buzz Out Pests

Research has discovered that honeybees can reduce the activity of plant-eating caterpillars, even though honeybees dont harm them in any way. This is another great reason to promote bees and other pollinators in our farms and gardens. Not only do you get the pollination benefits, you may also be able to reduce insecticide use.

How Do Bees Protect Against Pests?

A University of Wurzburg study set up two tents that contained bell pepper and soy bean plants. One tent included a bee hive and the other tent was closed to bees.

They introduced beet armyworms into both tents. Armyworms eat much more than beet greens and are a serious pest of many vegetable and flower crops.

Honeybees themselves are not predatory and dont harm insects like armyworms. But parasitic wasps will prey on the caterpillars by either eating them or laying eggs in their body. The eggs will later hatch and the wasp larvae will eat the caterpillar from the inside out.

As young caterpillars, armyworms are voracious leaf eaters. Although, when a wasp flies over, their natural response is to stop moving and eating. They sometimes even drop off the plant for extra safety.

The study found that the armyworms in the tent with bees circulating amongst the flowers ate about two-thirds less leaves than those in the bee-free tent.

Researchers concluded that the beating of a bees wings most likely mimics the sound of a predatory wasp. This is probably what makes the caterpillars stop eating in order to avoid a perceived predator.

What This Could Mean for Reducing Pesticide Use

The United States applied 857 million pounds of pesticides in the year 2007, with 80 percent being used by the agriculture industry. Unfortunately, more recent statistics are not available, but its likely that current pesticide usage would be similar.

Out of that total, almost 100 million pounds were insecticides. Many insecticides can have far-reaching effects on human health and the health of ecosystems.

For instance, organophosphates are a type of insecticide that damages the nervous system of both mammals and insects. They have also been used as a nerve gas during wars, a practice which has been banned by the Geneva Convention due to their high toxicity.

Research has also shown that wide-spread use of the insecticides called neonicotinoids has contributed to collapsing bee populations globally.

Its clear we need to find better ways to control pests, particularly on agricultural crops. Promoting pollinating insects could be the perfect way to reduce insecticide use and costs, while also helping boost global bee populations.

How Can You Help Promote Pollinators?

You may already be using various methods to support pollinators in your yard. This will benefit your own garden as well as any surrounding farms. These are some of the key ways to help pollinators.

Plant wild spaces. Pollination isnt all about honeybees. Thousands of other species of insects and animals also help plants spread pollen, such as butterflies, bats, moths, flies and even some mammals. All these creatures need wild spaces to live in.

Any garden beds will help boost your local populations of beneficial insects and other pollinators. If you have enough space, you can designate a completely wild area where humans arent allowed.

Grow organically. Insecticides and other pesticides harm more than just the pests youre targeting. They can contaminate ground water, the food supply and the air. Its important to find non-toxic ways to control unwanted visitors in your yard.

Provide food and water. Most pollinating insects eat pollen, so including a wide variety of flowering plants is ideal. Herbs like oregano, thyme and lavender are always insect magnets. Many native plants like blanket flower, Echinacea and bee balm are also favorites. And dont rule out flowering shrubs, vines and trees like wild roses, honeysuckle or linden trees.

Pollinators also need a source of water. A sunken dish in the ground filled with water and pebbles for landing sites will do the job. Bird baths, ponds and larger water features are also great.

Almond orchard with imported bee hives

How Can This Be Applied to Agriculture?

Agricultural operations can incorporate similar strategies as your backyard on a much larger scale.

An excellent example is in the almond orchards in California. Currently, theres a situation where the local honeybee populations arent large enough to pollinate the hundreds of thousands of acres of commercial almond trees.

Every February when the almonds bloom, more than one million beehives need to be shipped into the orchards to help with pollination. Thats more than half of all honeybees farmed in the United States, and theyre trucked in from all corners of the country.

The Journal of Applied Ecology published a study pointing out that it may not be sustainable to rely solely on one species (honeybees) for pollination of almonds. Researchers found that orchards surrounded by areas of semi-natural vegetation were visited by more wild bee species and other pollinating insects. In addition, greater numbers of wild pollinators visited when organic agricultural practices were used.

Also, fruit set increased as the percentage of natural habitat surrounding the orchards increased.

If almond orchards incorporated larger wild spaces to promote pollinators and moved to more organic cultivation practices, it would help solve their shortage of bees as well potentially reducing damage due to leaf-eating pests.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

Excerpt from – 

How Honeybees Buzz Out Pests

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Mass extinction threatens the world’s pollinators — and its crops

Mass extinction threatens the world’s pollinators — and its crops

By on 26 Feb 2016commentsShare

Bees, butterflies, bats, and birds have three things in common: They all have names that start with ‘b’, they are all pollinators, and they are all in serious danger.

United Nations-sponsored study released Friday reports that the world’s pollinators — and the crops that depend on them — are experiencing a trend of deep decline toward mass extinctions, with 2 out of 5 invertebrate species on their way to being completely wiped out. A meeting of representatives from 124 nations approved the research after it was presented by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services this week in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The findings, drawn from over 3,000 scientific papers on pollinators, are dire: 40 percent of invertebrate pollinator species (bees, butterflies) and 16 percent of vertebrate pollinators (bats and birds) are threatened with extinction. The causes are multiple and varied: pesticide use, habitat loss associated with development, pathogens, and global warming are all major factors preventing pollinators from thriving.


A planet full of bee carcasses isn’t the only reason to worry about this news. The lives of birds and bees and bats are inextricably interwoven with the crops they pollinate — and with the food security of the people who depend on them. About 75 percent of the world’s staple crops, including coffee, cotton, almonds, and cacao, depend on pollination in some way.

“Pollinators are important contributors to world food production and nutritional security,” the co-chair of the UN assessment, Vera Lucia Imperatriz-Fonseca, said. “Their health is directly linked to our own well-being.”

The work done by these tiny insects, birds, and mammals can add up to a lot of money, too. According to the findings, the annual value of global crops directly affected by pollinators is estimated at as much as $577 billion — a figure higher than the GDP of the United Arab Emirates.

The report comes laden with the requisite catastrophe warnings, but there may be a way to reverse some of the damage. Practices like conducting sustainable agriculture in diverse habitats, utilizing indigenous knowledge, reducing or replacing pesticide use, and improving disease control can help attract pollinators and allow them to flourish.

“[W]e have more than enough evidence to act,” Imperatriz-Fonseca said. Given that we all like to eat food, maybe the stakes are high enough that we actually will.



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Obama’s Plan to Save the Monarch Butterflies’ Epic Migration

Mother Jones

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Earlier this week, amid negotiating major trade deals and joining Twitter, Obama put forth a major infrastructure project: a highway for monarch butterflies.

That’s right, monarch butterflies. The pollinators are crucial to the health of our ecosystems but, like bees, their populations have seen startling drops. Some groups are even calling for their protection under the Endangered Species Act. The Obama administration wants to do something about it as part of its strategy to protect pollinating insects, but that turns out to be a tricky task given the monarch’s complex life cycle.

Each year, millions of monarch butterflies complete a 2,000-mile migration circuit from Mexico to the border of the United States and Canada that is so epic it has inspired poetry, a novel and documentary after documentary.

The whole process revolves around the butterflies’ favorite plant, milkweed, on whose leaves they lay eggs. Milkweed grows in the northern United States and southern Canada, so each spring they migrate north from Mexico (a process that requires multiple generations), resting along the way on trees like this.

Rebecca Blackwell/AP

Rebecca Blackwell/AP

The generation that arrives up north has just enough energy to lay eggs on milkweed leaves before dying themselves. The new generation, bolstered by the milkweed, then grows up with the strength to make make the autumn trip back to Mexico before the cold, continuing the cycle.


But a mixture of climate change, development, and herbicide use has wiped out the milkweed-hungry monarchs. The US Fish and Wildlife Service estimated that nearly one billion butterflies have died since 1990, a 90 percent population decline.

Enter Obama. As part of his “National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators,” his administration has introduced a plan to restore the monarch butterflies’ habitat and increase their population by 225 million. The centerpiece of the plan is a “flyway” along Interstate 35, which stretches from Texas to Minnesota. The plan calls for turning federally owned land along the interstate corridor into milkweed refuges for the butterflies.

Will it work? Many don’t think it’s enough, including Tierra Curry, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The goal the strategy sets for the monarch butterfly migration is far too low for the population to be resilient,” she said in an email adding more protection and a ban of harmful pesticides are needed to save them.

One source of hope for the insect is its beauty. No one wants to see these iconic butterflies go away.

Jean-Edouard Rozey/Shutterstock

Rebecca Blackwell/AP

Taken from:

Obama’s Plan to Save the Monarch Butterflies’ Epic Migration

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Welcome Bats to Your Garden

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Welcome Bats to Your Garden

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Attracting Native Pollinators: The Xerces Society Guide, Protecting North America’s Bees and Butterflies


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