You’ve heard all about mysterious death of honeybees. There are many potential causes. It could have to do with practices that amount to little more than industrial farming techniques applied to insects. When generation after generation of these unique creatures are fed genetically modified corn syrup, transported across the country, and regularly treated with chemicals in the hive it seems likely that their immune systems and navigation abilities might become impaired.
But a more obvious cause has been identified: neonicotinoid pesticides produced by Bayer. 94 percent of corn seeds used in the US are treated with this pesticide. It emanates from the plant’s pollen and nectar to attack the nervous system of insects. It affects all insects, including those that pollinate, eat pests, and provide food for birds. Including honeybees. Bees are exposed in two ways. First in huge doses during planting, when farm equipment and waste talc kicks up lethal neonicotinoid dust clouds. And then in tiny doses when bees bring toxic pollen into the hives. The poison damages their immunity and navigation abilities.
It’s not just in corn. It’s in soy, wheat, cotton, sorghum, and peanut seed. Oh, and in your garden. Many products marketed to home gardeners contain versions of these neonicotinoids. Don’t ever use them? Potting soil used by greenhouses and nurseries is commonly treated with it. That means the plants you tuck into your soil will keep emanating the toxin for weeks.
Agribusiness giants like Monsanto have a monopoly on the seed business. Farmers have great difficulty finding and affording non-treated, non-genetically modified seed. And then they must treat the seed with Monsanto chemicals at timed intervals or lose the whole crop, even though such practices create chemical-resistant “super weeds.”
And now Monsanto has purchased a leading research firm specializing in honeybees.
Time for action.
5. Find out more and get involved through Millions Against Monsanto.
4. Boycott all Monsanto products. This will be difficult, since nearly every non-organic food product is likely to have Monsanto genetically-modified ingredients.
3. Boycott all Bayer products. You can find a listing of their products, from veterinary medications to insecticides here.
2. Support your local beekeepers by purchasing their products. Whenever possible buy organically hived, raw honey.
1. LIMIT YOUR INTAKE OF NON-ORGANIC CORN. Neonicotinoid treated genetically modified corn is ubiquitous in the US. Avoiding it may be harder than you think, as corn and corn syrup is ever-present in most commercial products. And remember, livestock in the U.S. is largely raised on corn as well. Give it a try for the bees. As the bees go, so we go.
Corn does funny things to our insulin levels anyway. I would also suggest avoiding corn fed meat, but is that easy to do over yonder?
(Have lots of blue borage in my vege garden now, love seeing those bees!)
See I didn’t read the last bit properly due to being up at 2.30am. I’ll go to bed and insert my brain now.
Ah, I read this hoping it would be more useful… as in things that most people can actually do on a regular basis to help the bees… Telling people to simply boycott corn, corn syrup, and meat, as well as all non-organic products, is not really realistic, and not enough people are going to do it to make an impact on someone like Bayer or Mancoto….
Here are 5 steps I think everyone can and should take to help bees that doesn’t require outright boycotting of so many products we use every day:
1. Plant a variety of bushes, shrubs, and trees that flower at different times of the year so there is a variety of flowers for the bees through most of the year.
2. Provide hummingbird feeders with nectar – bees will use the nectar too, plus it also attracts hummingbirds, and the nectar is just sugar water – no toxins in it, and will help the honeybees.
3. Use Organic soils and nutrients for your outdoor gardens.
4. Use organic and natural pest control agents – such as lady bugs, praying mantises, nematoids (for your soil), and organic sprays with neem oil in them.
5. Research and try setting up your own bee hive if you have the space – provide them with a place where they can safely create a hive where you are also providing them with the nectar they need (in steps 1 and 2). If you can’t do this, at least support your local beekeepers.
Thanks for providing your suggestions.
You’re right Jenny, these may not be easy actions. I keep writing articles and posts about more basic steps we can take such as leaving fallow areas in our yards for natural pollinators, not using herbicides on our gardens, looking into becoming beekeepers, etc. But many people already do those things or are apartment/dorm dwellers. They want to know what else they can do. I’m regularly asked if boycotting Bayer aspirin (Bayer being the producer of neonicotinoid pesticides)will help bees, which I why I wrote this post, because the issue is so much larger. We’re all connected, insect to plant to person. Switching, as often as possible, to grassfed beef, organic corn, and organic soy can make a difference in our own health as well as the health of the planet.