The end of bees?

By Corinne Ball

Here’s the buzz: American honey bees are disappearing at an alarming rate, and the government knows why.

Scientists say a pesticide called clothianidin, made by chemical giant Bayer, is strongly linked to the rapid decline in bee populations. When exposed to the chemical, bees get lost: they are literally unable to find their way home back to the hive and drop dead from exhaustion.

Susan Mariner uses her backyard garden to grow extra fruits and veggies for her family and teach her children where their food comes from — and in the past few years, she’s seen the decline in bees firsthand.

When Susan heard about the recent studies linking this specific chemical to the widespread death of the bees who pollinate our food, she started a petition on to get the chemical banned. Go to to sign Susan’s petition asking the Environmental Protection Agency to ban these bee-killing pesticides ASAP.

One-third of the U.S. food supply relies on honey bees. Without bees to pollinate crops, many essential (and favorite) foods are at risk, including apples, squash, tomatoes, strawberries, almonds and even chocolate.

Several countries, including Germany and France, have already banned clothianidin. And after the bans, bee populations began to rise again.

But in the U.S., clothianidin is used on millions of acres of crops and American beekeepers report losses of up to 90 percent of their bees. Many worry that their hives won’t survive another season. Sign Susan’s petition urging the EPA to save the bees and immediately end the harmful pesticide’s use.

Thanks for being a change-maker.

If you don’t have acess to a computer, here’s Susan’s story for you to circulate.

Why This Is Important, by Susan Mariner

United States bee populations are in a nationwide free fall — and this could spell the end of fruits and vegetables grown on our soil.

Not only has the U.S. experienced widespread honeybee deaths and disappearances, called “Colony Collapse Disorder” (CCD), we have also seen a dramatic decrease in the wild bee population. Massive and continuing declines in the bee population means our food supply and our economy is in jeopardy.

As a third-generation backyard gardener who is passing the gift of growing food on to my own children, I have witnessed the decline in wild bees firsthand. To draw more bees to our garden, my children and I have surrounded our vegetable beds with wildflowers, and we never use chemicals in our garden or lawn. My family and I are doing everything we can to help our local bees survive, but the Bayer Corporation is working against us, and the EPA has yet to stop them.

In the past several months, three separate studies have added substantial weight to the growing body of evidence showing that widespread use of nicotine-based insecticides called neonicotinoids is linked to Colony Collapse Disorder. One study found that colonies exposed to neonicotinoids produced 85 percent fewer queens, meaning the creation of 85 percent fewer hives. United States Department of Agriculture bee expert Jeffery Pettis rightly calls the findings “alarming.”

Bayer markets its neonicotinoids widely to growers of corn, soy, wheat, cotton, sorghum, peanuts and other crops. Research by the Pesticide Action Network of North America showed that a minimum of 142 million acres were planted in neonic-treated seeds in the year 2010. 142 million acres is equivalent to the size of California and Oregon combined! And that number is likely to be even higher this year. On top of that, neonics are widely used in home garden and landscaping products.

EPA registration of Bayer’s neonicotinoids was primarily based on a study funded by the Bayer Corporation itself, and that study has been discredited by the EPA’s own scientists.

The EPA must act now to ban the sale of Bayer’s neoniconitoid products. When the bees suffer, we all suffer. We must do everything possible to protect this essential pollinator. Our bees, and the plants that depend on them, can’t wait.

From the April 11-17, 2012, issue

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