US Beekeepers Report 2nd Highest Colony Losses in History

WASHINGTON – The Bee Informed Partnership today reported the second-highest annual losses of honeybee colonies for the second year in a row. In its preliminary annual report on honey bee losses in the United States, beekeepers reported losing nearly half (45.5%) of their colonies over the past year.

A growing body of science shows that pesticide use in agriculture is a key driver of declines in populations of honey bees and other insect pollinators like native bees and butterflies.  Yet the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has not taken significant action on pollinator-toxic pesticides, such as neonicotinoids. Research shows that U.S. agriculture has become 48 times more toxic to bees since we began using neonicotinoids in the 1990s.

Jason Davidson, senior food and agriculture campaigner with Friends of the Earth issued the following statement in response:

These bee losses highlight the disturbing lack of progress from the EPA in the fight to protect pollinators from toxic pesticides. EPA cannot sit on the sidelines while beekeepers experience horrific losses year after year.

It will take meaningful policy protection and rapid market change to reverse these unsustainable declines in honey bees and to protect the future of our food supply.

Approximately 1 billion pounds of pesticides are used annually in the U.S., and more than 35% of pesticides on the market are considered ‘highly hazardous’ to pollinators and people. According to recent polling from YouGov, 83% of Americans believe it is important to eliminate pesticides that are harmful to pollinators from agriculture.

The Saving America’s Pollinators Act and the Protecting America’s Children from Toxic Pesticides Act would ban key bee-toxic pesticides and close loopholes that have allowed pesticide companies to pollute for decades. Congress should also support farmers in transitioning to organic and ecologically regenerative agriculture in order to protect pollinator health. Research shows that organic agriculture can help reverse pollinator declines.

Honey bee loss threatens food security, as one in three bites of food we eat depends on pollination. Research indicates that pollinator loss has already resulted in decreased production of key crops like apples, cherries and tomatoes in the United States. The annual economic value of insect pollinators in the U.S. is estimated to be $34 billion.

According to polling from YouGov, 74% of Americans believe grocery stores should support efforts to protect pollinators, such as bees and butterflies. Grocery retailers can play a major role in protecting honey bees while sustaining their food supply chains long-term.

Friends of the Earth’s Bee-Friendly Retailer Scorecard rates the largest U.S. grocery retailers on protecting pollinators from pesticides. It finds that, despite important momentum in the sector, such as an industry-leading policy from Walmart announced this spring, major grocery retailers have a long way to go to protect pollinators, people and the planet from toxic pesticides.

Communications Contact: Kerry Skiff, (202) 222-0723, [email protected]

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