A variety of federal government investigators and policy makers are trying to determine why U.S. honey production is so low that we have to import almost half of the golden nectar that we consume.
Maybe because it’s “Pollinator Protection Week,” or maybe not, the Environmental Protection Agency is doing its part and just announced that it has increased its efforts to find out what’s killing the hard-working flower suckers by launching a team to explore widespread bee deaths
Although its name sounds like the title of a summer horror film, the EPA’s “pollinator protection team” is a multi-disciplinary gang that will address the potential risks that pesticides may contribute to what is known as colony collapse disorder.
Some beekeepers say they already know the answer.
Last winter, when I was researching my investigative series on “Honey Laundering,” — the smuggling of millions of pounds of antibiotic-tainted Chinese honey into the U.S. — I spoke to scores of beekeepers in eight countries. Almost all believed bees’ worldwide were being sickened or killed by pesticides, and one type in particular.
Neonicotinoids, created by Bayer CropScience to destroy the central nervous system of insects, have been blamed in France and South Dakota for widespread bee kills, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council in a suit it filed last year it against EPA to force the agency to release information on pesticide-caused bee kills.
However, the EPA says it isn’t convinced of that link.
“Although the role that pesticides play in the phenomenon has not been scientifically established” pesticides will be a major focus of the newly named taskforce, which is working with the American Beekeeping Federation and National Honey Board.
Scientists for public interest groups say an important concession by EPA was its agreement to reexamine its pesticide testing requirements as part of its goal to protect bees and other pollinators.
(If you want to see the stories on the honey smuggling and mislabeling, look for “honey laundering” under the link “previous investigations” elsewhere on this page.)