The decline in bee population has caused European countries to ban harmful chemicals used in farming and gardening like pesticides to prevent further harm on the helpful pollinators. During the announcement of their decision, European Union explained that the effects of these chemicals have gone beyond destroying colonies as it has also been seen to cause health issues on other pollinators such as butterflies, birds, and even bats.
While bee life preservation advocates like Healthy Bees LLC— the creator of BeesVita Plus— are happy with the EU’s decision, they have yet to see similar action from the United States.
In fact, many environmentalists are disappointed at how the U.S. handled their supposed “biggest action” against the decline of honeybees as they are allegedly trying to mask the real problem with incorrect honeybee death statistics.
Bee Death Statistics
The Bee Informed Partnership, a research collaboration in the U.S. aimed at understanding effective bee management strategies for non-profit purposes, has released the initial results of a survey that tackles honeybee colony losses.
Based on their research, beekeepers reported losses of as much as 40.1 percent from April 1, 2017, to April 1, 2018. These results came out from validated responses from 4,794 beekeepers that manage 175,923 colonies of honeybees in the U.S. since October 2017.
Most of these losses were recorded during the winter, with backyard beekeepers reporting the highest number of deaths with 46.3 percent, followed by side-line and commercial beekeepers at 38 percent and 26.4 percent, respectively.
However, international environmentalists network Friends of the Earth consider these numbers to be a façade to mask the actual gravity of the situation.
According to the group’s senior food futures campaigner Tiffany Finck-Haynes, the honeybee death statistics presented are only the “tip of the iceberg” and are in no way close to an actual depiction of the situation. She said that losses shown in the survey aren’t remotely accurate.
Finck-Haynes also contemplated at the real reason why such numbers were presented, wondering if the government under 45th POTUS, Donald Trump, and the Environmental Protection Agency under Scott Pruitt’s command are being manipulated by the big players in the pesticide industry.
U.S. EPA’s Actions to Protect Bees
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website, risk management on pesticide “must be based on sound science.” However, Friends of the Earth believe that the agency ignored scientific evidence on the effects of harmful chemicals on bees for the longest time by delaying the regulation of pesticide use on outdoor crops.
Even so, the agency has already made actions—albeit gradually— towards the protection of bees across the country. These include the prohibition of pesticide use when bees are present, re-evaluating a certain family of pesticide to confirm the risks they pose to the pollinators, and expediting the examination of products aimed at controlling varroa mites that threaten beehives.
What Causes Honeybee Death
More than a decade ago, scientists discovered that the main reason why honeybees and other species of bees started to decline is due to a condition called the Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). Characterized by the sudden disappearance of mature worker bees, the CCD has been considered as the biggest threat to the pollinators.
But to understand CCD, one must first know the correlation of different factors involved, including agricultural practices, environmental factors, and ever-present pathogens in beehives.
According to research analyst Dennis vanEngelsdorp from the University of Maryland, many have come to believe that CCD covers any type of colony death. However, he explained that the term was first coined with specific symptoms in mind. He and his colleagues have confirmed on a research published in PLOS ONE that chemical used in crops and other plants play only one part of the process and that CCD is possible when it interacts with other factors like pathogens and the climate.