Did you know that May 20, 2021 is World Bee Day?
To celebrate our precious pollinators, we have put together an issue of Organic Bytes all about bees!
In this issue, you’ll learn:
• More about the lives of these amazing creatures
• All about the biggest threats to bees today, including pesticides and industrial monocrop agriculture
• How to avoid fraudulent honey and support real regenerative organic beekeepers
• Actions you can take—from the products you purchase and those you avoid, to landscape management, to national policies—to support and rebuild healthy pollinator populations
Learn more and take action through our Save the Bees campaign
Bees, like other pollinators, play a key role in making life possible on our planet.
It is known that 75 percent of the world’s crops depend on pollinators—without them, most of the fruits, flowers, and seeds that we know would not exist.
In addition to the well-known honey bee, there are approximately 20,000 species of pollinating wild bees distributed throughout the world, providing crucial and immeasurable ecosystem services.
Unfortunately, degenerative agricultural practices are decimating bee populations around the world. Industrial agriculture leads to loss of habitat due to deforestation, monocultures that threaten biodiversity, and the use of pesticides.
On top of this, many consumers don’t know that honey is one of the most adulterated food products in the world. Beekeepers who practice natural and regenerative beekeeping are threatened by a drastic drop in honey prices as a result of cheap adulterated honeys flooding the market.
These adulterated honeys are made using corn and cane syrups, often originating in China or India, and end up in multi-ingredient processed foods around the world.
This “honey” lacks the nutrients and properties of real honey, which is high in minerals, vitamins and trace elements, and has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and soothing properties.
The influx of adulterated honey into the world market causes unfair competition and a collapse in the price of honey, particularly affecting those who practice agroecological and regenerative beekeeping.
In this essay, Ercilia Sahores, Latin America Director of Regeneration International, discusses how you can identify and support real, regenerative honey and the regenerative agricultural practices that support pollinators.
Read: World Bee Day: No Pollination, No Life
Outrageously, one third of honey in international trade is adulterated or 100% false.
The Honey Authenticity Project has created three infographics revealing the alarming magnitude and consequences of the rise in adulterated honey. They explain:
“The large scale counterfeiting and adulteration of honey prompts the fall of honey prices and with it, accelerates the collapse of beekeeping, the driving force to maintain bees and their pollination alive.
“A peer reviewed article published in 2015 shows that low honey prices are the main threat for honey bees, even above pesticides and pests. Although beekeepers lose hives because of pesticides or other threats, if honey has a good price, they work hard and recover lost hives. If the price falls to a level that is no longer attractive, producers go out of business and hives cannot survive on their own.
“Many indigenous producers depend on the income that beekeeping brings them. Low prices affect the peasant economy, which is already very precarious.
“The falsification of honey is a crime, it discourages beekeeping. Reduced pollination impacts food production.”
Adulterated honey imports from China and other countries threaten the future of bees and beekeepers. Make sure you know where your honey comes from, and even better, purchase it directly from a regenerative beekeeper.
Learn More: One third of honey in international trade is adulterated or 100% false. How is this possible and what are the consequences?
Learn More: Honey fraud: One third of the international honey trade is not produced by bees from flowers, but from syrups in factories. That is a crime.
Learn More: Huge honey fraud leaves bees helpless. It destroys beekeeper’s livelihoods, consumers’ confidence, and harms health
What began with the collapse of bee colonies has become a full-on insect apocalypse that scientists say is “tearing apart the tapestry of life”, devastating bird populations, harming deer and rabbits, impacting human health and threatening the future of foods that rely on pollinators.
The U.S. agricultural landscape is now 48 times more toxic to bees than it was 25 years ago and crop yields for apples, cherries and blueberries are already being reduced by a lack of pollinators.
Why? Because of Bayer’s business model: Genetically modified “RoundupReady” seeds soaked in bee-killing neonic insecticides.
In the 1980s, Bayer invented synthetic neonicotinoid compounds that could be applied to the seed of a plant and remain effective for the plant’s entire lifespan.
By 2004, Bayer had agreements with the top genetically modified seed companies to coat their seeds with massive amounts of neonics.
By 2007, 80 percent of the corn seed sold by market-leader Pioneer (Monsanto’s rival-cum-partner) was treated with Bayer’s clothianidin-based Poncho.
By 2008, Colony Collapse Disorder was a worldwide problem.
Today, nearly all corn seeds and about half of soybean seeds are coated in neonics.
Bayer takes advantage of the fact that, in the US, seed treatments aren’t regulated as pesticides. Seed treatments used to be measured in overall neonic use, but the US Geological Survey started leaving them out in 2014.
That’s crazy! Just one corn seed can hold enough neonics to kill a quarter-million bees!
TAKE ACTION: Tell your state legislators to ban neonic seed treatments!
To save the bees, we must move beyond pesticides to an organic future.
That’s the mission of Beyond Pesticides, organizer of the BEE Protective campaign and the most important annual U.S. conference on strategies to phase out pesticides, the National Pesticides Forum.
You can watch videos from past years here.
One of the focuses of the 2021 National Pesticides Forum is pollinators and biodiversity:
Pollinators are in unrelenting devastating decline. But it’s not just pollinators. Research has found dramatic drops in overall insect abundance, leading entomologists to speak of an “insect apocalypse.” Various studies have found reductions of up to a factor 60 over the past 40 years –there were 60 times as many insects in some locations in the 1970s. Research shows that insect abundance has declined more than 75% over the last 27 years. The dramatic drop in insect biomass has led to equally dramatic pronunciations from highly respected scientists and entomologists. “We appear to be making vast tracts of land inhospitable to most forms of life, and are currently on course for ecological Armageddon,” says David Goulson, PhD of Sussex University. “If we lose the insects then everything is going to collapse.” It is clear that dramatic changes are needed.
2021 speakers include:
• Russ Henry, Bee Safe Minneapolis
• Joyce Kennedy, People & Pollinators Action Network
• Steve Ellis, Old Mill Honey Company
• Aimee Code, Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation
• Vera Krischik, PhD, Department of Entomology at the St. Paul, University of Minnesota
This year, this must-attend event is online and open to all. Donations to support the event are welcome, but no one will be turned away for lack of funds.
The 2021 National Pesticides Forum takes place over the following days. The full program is available here.
Monday, May 24, 6:00–7:30 pm ET
Tuesday, May 25, 1:00-5:30 pm ET
Tuesday, June 1, 1:00-5:30 pm ET
Tuesday, June 8, 1:00-5:30 pm ET
Tuesday, June 15 1:00-5:30 pm ET
Register for the 2021 National Pesticides Forum
As you know, the populations of bees and other pollinators are collapsing under pressure from a multitude of threats, including degenerative agricultural practices, habitat loss, pesticides, and the collapse of honey prices caused by adulterated and fraudulent honey flooding the global market.
Fortunately, there is a way forward—a shift to regenerative organic food, farming, and land use has the power to rebuild biological diversity and restore thriving ecosystems.
Our work to dismantle toxic industrial agriculture, and instead build a food and farming system that is healthy for people, pollinators, and the planet, depends on you.
Please make a generous donation at this time, if you are able. Thank you for your support.
Make a tax-deductible donation to Organic Consumers Association, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit
Support Citizens Regeneration Lobby, OCA’s 501(c)(4) lobbying arm (not tax-deductible)
Click here for more ways to support our work
Rejecting Bayer Appeal, Top EU Court Upholds Ban on Bee-Killing Pesticides
Study Suggests Neonic Pesticides Harming Monarch Butterfly Eggs
U.S. Appeals Court Upholds $25 Mln Roundup Verdict in Blow to Bayer
Bees in the Netherlands Trained To Detect COVID-19 Infections
U.S. Beekeepers Sue Over Imports of Asian Fake Honey