By Shermakaye Bass
In light of recent European bans of a pesticide linked to Bee Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), at least one key bee expert is calling for a ban of the same pesticide in the United States.
“In the United States, drastic action is needed,” says Canadian geneticist Joe Cummins, explaining that U.S. farmers and beekeepers shouldn’t have to wait for more evidence or for an air-tight explanation for the complex syndrome, which threatens one in every third bite of food in the United States. Now most apiarists and scientists realize that pesticides are a factor in CCD, he says.
Cummins’ remarks, in an interview with GreenRightNow, come less than a month after Germany’s ban of clothianidin, a pesticide commonly used to keep insects off of corn crops. Germany banned the pesticide after heaps of dead bees were found near fields of corn coated in the pesticide, and in response to scientists who report that the insecticide severely impairs, and often kills, the honeybees that corn and other crops depend on for pollination.
By Shermakaye Bass
So far this winter, things are looking fair-to-middlin’ for David Ellingson’s honeybees, but the Minnesotan is holding his breath until later this month, when he learns how two-thirds of his commercial hives have fared during their wintering season down south.
Ellingson has 1,200 hives in Southeast Texas (normally 20,000 to 30,000 bees inhabit a healthy hive), where he hopes the bees are fattening up in the warmer, moister climate. His remaining 700-800 hives buzz about the fields of California, where they are helping to pollinate the state’s massive almond crop.
The next few weeks are critical for the third-generation beekeeper.
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Ellingson, a past president of the American Beekeeping Federation, will learn if he’ll have a repeat of last winter, when he lost 65 percent of all his bees. Also, in the next few weeks, he and those affected by Colony Collapse Disorder and other honey-bee health issues will learn if the current Farm Bill, which has a proposed $75 million for research and disaster-relief, will even make it to the House and Senate floors.
“This year so far our bees look better… If I had another year like last year (Ellingson saw an additional 15-20 percent loss during the ’07 summer), we would be getting ready for a sale. I’m 54 years old. I can’t go any deeper into debt.”
For him, a lifelong passion and family tradition are at stake.