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2343Where Have all the Honey Bees Gone?

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  • Robert Cohen
    Apr 21, 2006
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      Where Have all the Honey Bees Gone?

      (The amazing story of dairy industry culpability)

      "If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe,
      then man would only have four years left to live."
      - Albert Einstein

      This from the Penn State Agriculture Magazine, Spring 1998:

      "In the spring of 1993, entomologist Maryann Frazier
      encountered a mystery. 'Beekeepers began calling to
      report that they had no bees in their colonies,' she
      recalls...They had seen bees making flights in February,
      but by April, there were no bees. What happened to them?'

      Frazier's investigation into the reasons the bees
      disappeared continues today. If she and her colleagues can't
      unravel the mystery of why bee colonies are dying, beekeepers,
      fruit and vegetable growers, and consumers all are likely to
      feel the consequences."

      I live in New Jersey, America's Garden State. Believe it
      or not, we have a state insect, the honey bee. Honey bees
      pollinate crops. It's actually a big business. Pollinators
      travel America, leasing their bees to crop growers. Beekeepers
      keep the honey. During World War II, there were over 6 million
      commercial beehives in America. By the mid-1980s, that number
      had dropped to 4 million. Today, there are 2.5 million remaining.
      America's honey bees are disappearing, and those who best know
      bees have a number of theories, but no one conclusive reason.
      The one universally accepted fact is that bees are in trouble.

      Could an aspirin manufacturer be the cause of the bee's demise?
      The Bayer Aspirin Company may be giving our environment an
      incurable migraine headache.

      My first hint came from an ad in the April 10, 2006
      issue of Hoard's Dairyman. There, on page 270, a full
      color advertisement proclaims:

      "Bayer supplies the technology to fix the milking
      machine on the right."

      On the right side of the ad is an enlarged photo of
      a most grotesque fly with large red eyes and appendages
      containing end-to-end cactus-like spurs.

      In smaller text, Bayer informs prospective customers:

      "Bayer understands how much profit flies suck out of
      your entire operation. That's why we developed QuickBayt
      Pour-On insecticide...put the high-tech tools from Bayer
      to work." (Bayer is owned by the IG Farben Company, and
      no, I will not be getting into that controversy here...)

      I began to search the Internet for the secret ingredients to
      Bayer's miracle fly solution. Gobs and gobs of this high-tech
      gunk are slathered onto dairy cow's bodies. What's in QuickBayt
      that makes life so very dangerous for the honey bee?


      Imidacloprid is a widely used insecticide that has environmentalists
      extremely concerned. Apparently, scientists have known for many
      years the impact that imidacloprid has on wildlife. Here are some
      of the recognized hazards of using imidacloprid:

      Imidacloprid has raised concerns because of its possible impact on
      populations...it is also acutely toxic to earthworms...

      Imidacloprid has raised concerns because it causes eggshell thinning
      in endangered bird species...it is highly toxic to sparrows, quails,
      canaries, and pigeons...

      Imidacloprid can be toxic to humans, causing epileptic seizures,
      diarrhea, and lack of coordination...

      Imidacloprid is extremely toxic at low concentrations to some
      species of aquatic fish and crustaceans...

      Can food be contaminated with imidacloprid? You tell me whether
      this is comedy or tragedy at work. Neither the United States
      Department of Agriculture nor the Food and Drug Administration
      includes imidacloprid in their food monitoring programs.

      Two European studies have shown that vegetables tested with
      imidacloprid were contaminated, one week after exposure.

      It seems clear that imidacloprid use on dairy farms should be
      closely monitored by regulatory agencies. The Bayer Company
      is making lots of money on this drug, but the true cost might
      become America's newest headache. My advice to FDA and USDA
      regulators who refuse to regulate: Take two imidacloprids
      and call me in the morning.
      "Even bees, the little almsmen of spring bowers,
      know there is richest juice in poison-flowers."
      - John Keats

      Robert Cohen