Honeybees are messengers. The question is will society listen?
When I started directing the documentary Vanishing of the Bees in 2007, I too had no idea. I didn’t know bees pollinate one in every three bites of food we eat or that bees are transported via trucks like indentured slaves, and that most conventional crops are doused in poisons. We’ve come a long way in the past six years. Bees are in our consciousness more than ever before. Urban beekeeping is thriving worldwide. People are growing gardens. And yet bees are dying by the millions, and that number is increasing.
When Vanishing first came out, we got a lot of smack for insinuating pesticides caused Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). Today, unless you are a biotech company, there is no denying that these neonicotinoids are slowly killing bees and beings with their sub-lethal effects. As a proud Montrealer, I did look into whether CCD was impacting “my (former) home and native land.” Apparently beekeepers in Canada were discouraged from calling their bee deaths CCD. Doing so would mean loss of their subsidies. American beekeepers meanwhile don’t receive subsidies. In essence, the almond industry is subsidizing the U.S. bee industry to the tune of millions of dollars each year. They are the ones who pay beaucoup bucks for hives. California pollinates 80% of the world’s almonds. But I digress.
Mum’s The Word
The point is my fellow beekeeping Canucks had to keep quiet or face being decimated. And so that was that. With our limited budget we concentrated on traveling throughout America and to Europe to illustrate that this was a worldwide phenomenon of dying bees. Now, Canada can no longer deny that the same poisons killing Italian, German, English, French, and American bees are also killing their bees. There have been too many publicized incidents. Change is slow, but it is happening. Countries are banning these poisons and putting planet and people over profits. We must continue to be the change we want to see.
Here is the latest news about dying bees from Canada, courtesy Mercola:
“Just weeks ago in Elmwood, Canada, local beekeeper Dave Schuit lost 600 hives, or a total of 37 million bees. Another Canadian farmer lost eight of his 10 hives.
The bees started dying in droves just after corn in the area was planted. This is an alarming red flag since corn seeds are often treated with neonicotinoid pesticides. These pesticides are known to kill insects by attacking their nervous systems.
Some governments are finally taking action against these toxic chemicals, but clearly not fast enough. How many more millions of bees have to die before protection is granted to these invaluable creatures?
For those who aren’t aware, there are about 100 crop species that provide 90 percent of food globally and, of these, 71 are pollinated by bees.
In the US alone, a full one-third of the food supply depends on pollination from bees. This means that if bee colonies continue to be devastated, major food shortages will inevitably result.
Bee Dying En Masse Is Now Becoming Commonplace
Something is wrong – very wrong – if millions of bees are dying off in a matter of days. Schuit noted that he now has to replace his queen bees every few months, instead of every few years, because they are dying off so frequently.
Last month, an estimated 25,000 bumblebees were found dead in an Oregon parking lot as well, just a short time after 55 trees in the area had been sprayed with Safari, a neonicotinoid insecticide. Ironically, the dead bees were found just as National Pollinator Week was kicking off.
These chemicals are typically applied to seeds before planting, allowing the pesticide to be taken up through the plant’s vascular system as it grows. As a result, the chemical is expressed in the pollen and nectar of the plant, and hence the danger to bees and other pollinating insects.
Adding to the problem are new ‘air seeders,’ which spread pesticide dust into the air when they’re planted, further increasing the toxic chemicals’ reach. According to the Cornucopia Institute:
What seems to be deadly to bees is that the neonicotinoid pesticides are coating corn seed and with the use of new air seeders, are blowing the pesticide dust into the air when planted. The death of millions of pollinators was looked at by American Purdue University.
They found that, ‘Bees exhibited neurotoxic symptoms, analysis of dead bees revealed traces of thiamethoxam/clothianidin in each case. Seed treatments of field crops (primarily corn) are the only major source of these compounds.’