David Hackenberg, who first announced the phenomenon now known as ‘Colony Collapse Disorder’ (CCD) back in late 2006, has lost 90 percent of his bees. Again.

“We’ve lost our bees before, but it’s never been this bad,” says 43-year-old Davey Hackenberg who now runs Buffy Bee, his father’s East Coast operation. The father-and-son team went from 1700 hives at the beginning of winter to a little less than 300. And for the first time in years, they’re not driving cross-country to the Central Valley to pollinate almonds. They don’t have enough bees. Many commercial beekeepers depend on the lucrative almonds – a 6.5 billion dollar crop that spans 500 miles—to stay in business.

Bret Adee, the biggest beekeeper in the world, also recently lost a massive amount of hives. He went from 90,000 hives to 40,000.  This is not the first time Bret has lost a big part of his operation.

“We haven’t seen any of this colony collapse disorder here,” Adee first stated back in 2007, during the filming of my award-winning documentary, Vanishing of the Bees, narrated by Ellen Page. We interviewed Adee beside his 70,000 hives in Lost Hills. But a few months later, he returned to discover the largest disaster ever seen in bee-keeping history — 40,000 hives containing two billion bees had disappeared. The event became known as a ‘bee holocaust.’

EPA Sued Over Failed Oversight of Neonicotinoid-coated Seeds

Hackenberg and Adee continue to try to save their bees. They, along with other beekeepers, farmers, and sustainable agriculture and conservation groups, such as Center for Food Safety (CFS), filed a lawsuit in the early part of January 2016, challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) inadequate regulation of the neonicotinoid insecticide seed coatings used on dozens of crops.

“As a beekeeper for over 50 years, I have lost more colonies of honey bees in the last 10 years from the after-effects of neonic seed coatings than all others causes over the first 40 plus years of my beekeeping operation,” says Hackenberg.

The lawsuit argues that the EPA has illegally allowed widespread environmental contamination to occur from the use of pesticide-coated seeds, without requiring the seeds to be registered under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). “Because the coated seeds are not registered, there are no enforceable labels on the seed bags and no adequate assessments of serious ongoing environmental harm,” explains Abigail Seiler, CFS Media and Communications Manager.

Learn more about the Task Force on Systemic Pesticides

The EPA has essentially skirted the law and not registered these coated seeds thanks to a specific exemption, called “treated article,” which allows the EPA to eliminate “all provisions of FIFRA.” This in turn relieves the EPA of accountability and their duty to require registration of neonicotinoid-coated seeds.

“Because of a major regulatory loophole, neonicotinoid seed coatings are being used without adequate safety testing, proper data gathering, or necessary product labeling,” adds Larissa Walker, CFS Pollinator Program Director.

The truth is that beekeepers cannot afford the three to five years it will continue to take if the EPA chooses to ‘drag out’ the treated article exemption in courts at the request of the pesticide industry. They need them to properly regulate these pesticides today.

“People need pollinated food; somebody must stand up and say no to unregulated killing of pollinators,” says Jeff Anderson, beekeeper and lead plaintiff in the case.

The Insidious Nature of Neonics

Neonicotinoids are a class of insecticides considered to be a major factor in overall bee population declines and poor health. They are also the most commonly used insecticides in the world. Up to 95 percent of the applied seed coating ends up in the surrounding air, soil, and water rather than in the crop for which it was intended, leading to extensive contamination.

CCD is not a random & undefined “disorder” but a direct result of these poisons that have been wreaking havoc on our environment for already more than two decades. And yet, manufacturers like Bayer and Syngenta, along with the EPA, are still denying their effects, despite a growing body of science and empirical observations from beekeepers around the world.

Neonics also harm birds, bats, monarchs, and other vital pollinators. They have been found coursing through our blood and now researchers are even finding neonics in the liver belonging to deers, and maybe even pheasants, muskrats, elk, and moose.

These poisons can stay in our soil for up to 18 years and their metabolites are even more dangerous than the parent compounds. They kill worms and other microorganisms and compromise our soil’s overall health.

All this as the European Academies Science Advisory Council concludes that neonics have severe effects on the pollinators and organisms that provide natural pest control.

Neonics are up to 10,000 times more dangerous that DDT. Enough said.

Embrace The Anti-aging Powers Of Bee Products To See How Amazing They Truly Are! 

Hackenberg

Pushing Farmers To Use Poisonous Seeds

Treated seeds are very common. EPA has allowed millions of pounds of coated seeds to be planted annually on more than 150 million acres nationwide. Think corn and soy. Not only are those seeds coated with poisons, they are also genetically modified.

EPA’s actions surrounding neonicotinoid seed coatings have led to intensifying and destructive consequences, says lawsuit and CFS attorney Peter T. Jenkins.

According to an article in Civil Eats, most major companies do not even offer uncoated corn seed.

And it’s not like there are many to choose from. Four of the largest seed companies, one of them being Monsanto, control nearly 60 percent of the global patented seed market, according to Mary Hendrickson of the University of Missouri. This fact constrains farmers’ choices.

“Meanwhile, seed treated companies include incentives to buy coated seed in the form of insurance: If their crop fails, the farmer will get a 100 percent rebate. Without the coatings, the rebate is only 50 to 75 percent,” adds the same article.

“That’s one of the reasons we throw everything on the seed,” Matt Hughes, a farmer, told Progressive Farmer.”

Treated seeds are so popular and yet their cost-effectiveness has been challenged in recent years, with numerous studies indicating that their near ubiquitous use is unnecessary — and making EPA’s disregard of their risks all the more harmful.

“EPA can’t bury its head in the sand any longer. Seed coatings are just the latest delivery device of pesticide corporations that pose a threat to pollinators and the food system,” says Marcia Ishii- Eiteman, senior scientist at Pesticide Action Network. “Given widespread use and persistence of these bee-harming pesticides, it’s time for EPA to fully and swiftly evaluate the impacts of seed coatings — and prevent future harm.”

The plaintiffs in the case are beekeepers Jeff Anderson, Bret Adee, David Hackenberg, and Pollinator Stewardship Council, farmers Lucas Criswell and Gail Fuller, and public interest and conservation groups American Bird Conservancy, Center for Food Safety and Pesticide Action Network of North America.

How much longer will these poisons be allowed on the market?

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  • Zaur Man

    The real reason of Colony Collapse Disorder is GMO.
    Beekeepers feed bees with corn syrup or sugar. All corn in US is GMO. Stop feeding bees with corn syrup or sugar and keep bees away from Genetically Modified plants and Colony Collapse Disorder will never be a problem for you.

    • snapper1d

      Its not GMO.Too many using cane sugar and are also losing colonies.

    • Charles

      Sorry my friend your obviously not well informed. CCD is not the issue here. attacking pesticides is. Hackenburgs are the Kardashians of beekeeping

    • John Powell

      Perhaps the facts go deeper. Perhaps it is a mixture of many environmental issues right now. For humanity to think that we can tamper with the natural order of life that has maintained this planet for millions of years and not have consequences, it would seem the results are in as to how we fool ourselves.

    • Maryam Henein

      that is a bunch of crap. sorry but get the facts or stop trolling. Many beekeepers have stopped feeding corn syrup but if they do, corn is ALSO seed treated with neonics.

  • Dave Thompson

    Sorry, don’t agree. I have only lost ~70 hives to ccd,over 9 years so not as painful, but I think
    it is not caused by neonics. I think it is caused by a nasty long lived virus. A treatmnet. & disinfectant is formic acid, twice yearly

  • sharon

    I’m a newbeek, just bringing my first hive through its first winter, so I am an expert in nothing, but how much CCD is related to driving bees across the country and back.

    • Maryam Henein

      Well trucking bees is taxing on the bees. They intermingle with other bees. They often do not get proper nourishment if they are in a monoculture

  • isabella

    There are many reasons why bees are slowly declining at rate faster than ever before. What needs to be realized is colony collapse disorder is not a lie! For example David Hackenberg lost the majority of his bees. How can you say that this is a lie. In cases where bees pollinate organic farms that don’t use neonics there is no collapse…at all. http://www.naturalnews.com/050352_organic_agriculture_bees_colony_collapse_disorder.html
    Once people realize that CCD was not a big problem until neonics became widely used.
    Yes, there is a virus that kills the bees…but when they are exposed to a virus and then you add neonics on to that, what do you think will happen. The bees will be at a bigger risk. This issue needs to start being taken seriously, because if not we are also at risk. Bees provide us with food security and with out humans would be at more risk.
    Therefor the use of neonics is killing bees along with many other factors! Just accept it, so we can work on solving the problem,

  • Bourbon

    Neonics and pesticide overuse, commercial and unsustainable farming (monoculture), GMOs, AND COMMERCIAL BEEKEEPING are all contributors to pollinators’ decline. YES, the EPA needs to step up policy and advocate laws in favor of pollinator protection, and industry giants like Monsanto, Bayer and Syngenta should be held liable (and at fault) both legally and civilly for their enormous contribution to pollinators’ detriment. The pollen and nectar bees collect is compromised, which in turn, compromises their immune system. Keeping 90,000 hives isn’t sustainable Mr. Adee, and our neglect and abuse of this species both politically and organically is giving rise to their demise. Truly, as humans, we should all be very ashamed of how uneducated and spineless we are to allow big ag to control our food supply. Oh, and it’s almost too little too late, bees will be gone in 5-10 years most likely. And to Dave, what will you do when the HCL no longer keeps the ‘virus’ in check? Go on to a stronger antibiotic? What happens when the antibiotics run out? HCL is just a band-aid–whereas the cure lies in dismantling the policy-making / lobbying processes in Washington.