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Bees are dying … don’t spray the flowers!

By Gary Bogue
Friday, March 28th, 2008 at 6:43 am in Bee decline, beekeeper, bees, Pesticide.

I found this in my morning mail:

Gary:
I wrote the letter below to send to the editor, but decided to pass it to you instead. I am not asking you to reprint it, just use whatever parts you may find suitable. There is just no need for people to be spraying so much pesticides in the first place, and don’t they know how much humans need bees? (Elwira Stankiewicz)

DON’T SPRAY THE FLOWERS!
Bees have been lately in the news, with their mysterious and frightening disappearances. Our bee disappearance in the Estates neighborhood of Concord, California, was not quite so mysterious, but it certainly was frightening and heartbreaking.

Right after Easter our bees started suddenly dying. They crawled in masses away from their home, twitching and jerking (it is a dying bee’s last gift to her sisters to take herself away). Thousands died inside, littering the top and bottom of the hive. Many just never made it home. In a few days our beautiful happy hive has gone silent and still. Dreaded Colony Collapse Disorder?

Nope. According to a professional beekeeper I consulted, it was a simple case of one of our neighbors, somewhere within a half mile most likely, going too happy with a can of pesticide.

Perhaps the people who did it saw bugs around their backyard and sprayed everything. Perhaps they even believed bees attack people, while pesticides are harmless to children. But whether the cause was indifference or ignorance, the bees that only pollinate our gardens died.

It seems like a microcosm of what’s happening on a larger scale. In coming years, while someone enjoys a buzz-free yard, the rest of the neighborhood will ponder the low yields in backyard gardens. And while our chemical agricultural practices persist, wild bees disappear and commercial beekeepers go bankrupt, U.S. consumers will ponder skyrocketing prices of produce dependent on bees for pollination, and not just almonds.

There are products to repel or destroy pests in garden and home that are safe to humans and bees. Diatomaceous earth is by far my favorite, a true gardener’s best friend. There are wasp repellent sprays that do not harm picnickers (or nearby bees). And even commercial pest control companies have options for keeping “bugs” away without wiping out all the beneficial insects at the same time, and they usually know it is against the law to apply pesticides while bees are foraging.

But my bees are out of there. We moved what bees remained to a new, hopefully cleaner place in hope the queen was not fed the poison, and lives and enough of them survive to nurse the next generation.

So, there is hope for them. But is there a hope for humanity when many of us don’t realize “environment” is not some leftist/commie/liberal slogan, but the food on our table, our own health, and our survival as a species?

Sad bee friend in Concord, CA (Elwira Stankiewicz)

GARY’S RESPONSE:
“About a third of the American diet can be traced back to bees,” says May Berenbaum, head of the department of entomology at the University of Illinois. Honeybees pollinate the flowers of an alphabet of crops: almonds, apples, asparagus, avocados, blueberries, broccoli, cantaloupe, celery, cherries, cranberries … the list goes on and on and on. Think about it. No pollination … no crops.

Want to hear something shocking? More pesticides are sprayed, dusted, dumped and poured in suburban and urban backyards than on all the farms in the country.

Just walk into any hardware or garden supply store … or down certain aisles in your local supermarket … and take a BIG sniff. Ah … the bittersweet smell of poisons … just waiting for you to take them home and use them!

Hungry? Don’t spray pesticides in your yard! /Gary

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3 Responses to “Bees are dying … don’t spray the flowers!”

  1. GLENNA A BULLARD Says:

    CALL ME WEIRD BUT I DONT KNOW WHY PEOPLE ARE ABLE TO BUY THESE PESTICIDES PEOPLE CANT BE TRUSTED TO DO THE RIGHT THING PLUS TAKE CARE OF THEIR FAMILIES THESE DAYS EVERYONES TAKING THE EASY WAY OUT IT IS STANDARD .WHY MAY I ASK IS THE GOVERNMENT REGULATING THESE PESTICIDES AND ALLOWING THEM TO BE PUT ONTO THE FOOD THAT WE EAT? A NUMBER OF PROBLEMS HAVE AND CAN BE TRACED BACK TO PESTICIDES THAT ARE BEING ALLOWED BY THE GOVERNMENT TO BE PUT ON MY CHILDRENS FRUIT AND VEGTIBLES IM SICK OF IT. ALL I SEE AT THE GROCERY STORE IS POLITICS BROKE AND NOT BROKE SECTIONS IF YOU ARE BROKE OR MAKE MEAGER WAGES YOU BUY THE VEGGIES WITH THE PESTICIDES IF YOU ARE RICH YOU CAN AFFORD THE ORGANIC SO YOU WONT GET ALZHEIMERS OR YOUR GUT WONT EVENTUALLY ROT OUT FROM THE INTENTIONAL POISONING OF THE FOOD WE INGEST. EPA NEEDS TO STEP UP ON SO MANY LEVELS.

  2. Joyce Wisniowicz Says:

    Is there any product or herbal mixture I can use to repel bees from my garden without killing them? If there is such a product, would it be safe for my dogs? My mother (who lives with me) and one of my dogs was stung this summer and my other dog swallowed a bee and almost died. Can you please offer any help?

  3. Suzanne Williams Says:

    I live in the Oakland hills and in the last month not only the bees in my garden have virtually disappeared, but also the birds. Several Pride of Maderia shrubs had masses of bees visiting the flowers in March, early April. Now I am lucky to see 2 or 3. Yesterday in the garden I found 2 bees fruitlessly struggling to survive.

    I fill up 3 bird feeders 2 or 3 times a week, but now they are mostly untouched. All the small birds – chickadees, titmouses, finches, flycatchers, etc are gone. The robins, stellar and scrub jays, towhees, etc. are larger birds and they are still present. However, I do see hummingbirds which are very small.

    I’ve been looking for an agency to report this problem to, but so far have been unsuccessful. Any suggestions? If the cause is the use insecticides, especially at the levels which kill birds, and all of us report our problems to the local agency in charge we can get this on their radar screen. If cities can stop the use of styrofoam cups, why can’t they stop the selling of pesticides?

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