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
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.