Although the ultimate destruction of our planet looms in the distance, it is not a recently discovered occurrence. Humans have been destroying Earth since we evolved into agriculturalists, and with the future’s newest technologies you would think we could invent ways to save our planet. We recognize the need for more eco-friendly laws and products on the market, and through all our efforts there is still, in my opinion, one important ecological contributor that goes unnoticed by the human population: honey bees. They pollinate more than one third of America’s crops, including many super foods like berries, nuts, and the avocado. In California especially, the amount we pay for avocados is not something we joke about; now try to imagine having to pay double or even triple for the green fruit once people have to start hand-pollinating them. Yeah, I do not want to imagine it either.
Despite the loss of avocados and other crops essential for the average human diet, honey bees themselves will be gone. Americans are constantly reminded about the effects if bees become extinct, yet we keep ignoring the signs. Even the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) fails to recognize the detrimental consequences that new technology has on earth’s ecological system. They recently approved use of the new pesticide sulfoxaflor, which in case studies shows harmful effects on honey bees. In order to maintain “environmental protection” one would think the EPA would go out of their way to save the environment and not take part in destroying it. I mean, it is in their name for Pete’s sake.
Since multiple backlashes from the community have protested about the EPA’s actions, they have conducted two studies on the impacts of sulfoxaflor on honey bee colonies and brood development. The EPA concluded there was no outstanding data , although the pesticide itself is considered highly toxic to bees; their conclusion was that although this fact may be true, there was no substantial residual toxicity to exposed bees. Keyword “substantial”. They also skirted around the issue of exposed bees exhibiting behavioral and navigational abnormalities by stating these effects as “short-lived”. The chemicals in pesticides, known as neonicotinoids (neonics), are what causes bees to die; these are the chemicals that damage a bee’s ability to navigate back to their hive, and if the hive does not receive the nectar, their food source, the whole colony suffers. It just so happens that sulfoxaflor is a neonic. And still the EPA claims that all their data comes from over 400 studies, however these are not made available in any public scientific literature. What is available in scientific literature is the cold hard facts: since 1947 there has been 3.5 million less bees, and they seem to have just disappeared. Another scary fact: Dow AgroSciences, who makes the pesticide sulfoxaflor, asked the EPA to expand the pesticide’s use to corn, alfalfa, and clovers, the latter two which are food staples for honey bees. The alarming evidences keeps adding up, and when it comes down to it the EPA doesn’t care for the livelihood of our planet. They make money by taking the easy way out.
When it comes down to it, saving any part of our planet is really not difficult. Homeowners, like you, can save the honeys bees by completing simple and everyday tasks. The first: when you find a beehive in or outside of your home, do not call an exterminator, who will destroy the bees. Instead, call up a local beekeeper who will move the queen out and without killing the hive. Also, try planting lavender which is a food source for the bees. Another step you can take is to place a shallow dish, like a Frisbee, full of water outside. Stick rocks in the water, and you have created a resting area for working bees where they can drink water without drowning.
Below are some resources you can look through for further information about sulfoxaflor and how to save the honey bees:
Read more about the EPA’s decision: http://www.epa.gov/oppfead1/cb/csb_page/updates/2013/sulfoxaflor-decision.html
The government regulation on sulfoxaflor:
An informative article about the EPA and sulfoxaflor from EcoWatch: http://ecowatch.com/2013/05/08/epa-approves-new-pesticide-highly-toxic-to-bees/
Understand the work beekeepers do, and how you can help the bees: