On July 19 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it formally refused to recognize that honey bees face an “imminent hazard” and denied a request by beekeepers to immediately suspend the use of pesticides that pose harm to pollinators. The decision comes in response to a legal petition filed earlier this year by 25 beekeepers and environmental organizations, citing significant acute and chronic bee kills across the U.S. linked to neonicotinoid pesticides.
“We’re disappointed. EPA has signaled a willingness to favor pesticide corporations over bees and beekeepers,” said Steve Ellis, a petitioner and owner of Old Mill Honey Co, with operations in California and Minnesota. “This decision puts beekeepers, rural economies and our food system at risk. And the injury we are sustaining this year will be unnecessarily repeated.”
This spring and summer, beekeepers from New York to Ohio and Minnesota, are reporting extraordinarily large bee die-offs, due, in part, to exposure to neonicotinoid pesticides. The die-offs are similar to what beekeepers have reported in the past few weeks in Canada (where EPA has admitted there are 120 bee kill reports, a huge number). On average, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that beekeepers have been losing more than 30 percent of their honey bee colonies each year since 2006—but some are losing many more times that number.