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Neonics in the water?!

on Thu, 08/07/2014 - 00:00

We've known for some time that neonicotinoids — the class of systemic, bee-harming insecticides — are water soluble. They've been detected in surface water in several agriculture-heavy states. And now they're showing up in Midwestern waters.

Last month, the U.S. Geological Survey released a report finding clothianidin, one of the most widely used neonics, in 75% of Midwest streams surveyed. Other common neonics were detected too. Not good news.

Almost all of the conventional corn seed grown in the U.S., as well as much of the soy, is pre-treated with neonics before planted.

Your (not so) “bee-friendly” plants

on Wed, 06/25/2014 - 00:00

Honey bee collecting nectar
Bee-harming pesticides in our lavender and daisies? In the same week that an international body of scientists released a comprehensive global assessment of the harms of pesticides to bees, a new report shows that these very same pesticides are found in many of our backyard plants — at levels of concern — that are meant to support pollinators.

The report shows that 51% of garden plant samples purchased at top garden retailers (Home Depot, Lowe’s and Walmart) in 18 cities in the United States and Canada contain neonicotinoid (neonic) pesticides — a key driver of declining bee populations.

Happy Pollinator Week!

on Mon, 06/16/2014 - 04:33

Pollinator Protection Week is here, folks. And to celebrate, we're kicking off the week with an online townhall discussion about bee declines, the impacts on our food system and what we can do to support thriving pollinator populations.

On top of that, we'll have a lively Twitter chat every day of the week on a range of topics at 10am PT. Hope you can join us for all of it!

Monday, 6/16: eTownhall, live streaming 6pm PT/9pm ET

"What's the buzz about?: A conversation about bee declines, impacts on our food system & what you can do about it"
Co-sponsored by Pesticide Action Network, Center

Minnesota for the bees!

on Tue, 05/06/2014 - 00:00

A few weeks ago I heard Dr. Marla Spivak give a “State of the Bees” address to a packed auditorium in Minneapolis. At the end of her presentation, an audience member raised his hand and asked: “What state is doing the most to protect bees?” Dr. Spivak only paused for a moment before answering, “Well, I’d have to say Minnesota.”

Dr. Spivak may be biased, since her Bee Lab is based at the University of Minnesota (and I guess I could be too). But I think she’s onto something: Minnesota is getting a move on protecting its pollinators.

The excitement in Minnesota is due, in no small part, to

Bee aware

on Fri, 05/02/2014 - 15:01

We keep seven Langstroth hives at our home, on 2.2 acres. Our property has 61 organic fruit trees, many berries and about 3,000 sq ft of vegetables, which we mostly donate to the local charity of our choice. Of our seven hives, only three survived the winter, and they are very healthy — with queens imported from Australia, where they do not have a varoa mite infestation. We use no chemicals on our bees.

Two days ago, a big tanker truck pulled up next to our property.