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All They are Saying is Give Bees a Chance

Chicago Bee Die-In

Chicago Bee Die-In
At a 'die-in' outside a Chicago Home Depot on August 16, activists protest the pesticides thought to be causing mass bee deaths.

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Honey Bee Health page and our Illinois News page.

On Saturday, activists in cities from Dallas to Melbourne, Australia, “swarmed the globe” in an international rally to save the world’s bees.

In an action timed to coincide with National Honey Bee Day in the United States, Bee Against Monsanto—a Tampa-based collective that campaigns to protect honey bees and other pollinators—called on organizers worldwide to hold “Swarm the Globe” rallies. Their goal: to raise awareness of the dangers of neonicotinoids, a family of insecticides that kill bees.

Neonicotinoids are the leading suspect in Colony Collapse Disorder, a phenomenon in which entire populations of worker bees disappear, leaving queens and larvae to die in their hives. On average, 30 percent of bee colonies in the United States have died each year since 2006, with similarly high death rates in many parts of Europe.

In Chicago, Swarm the Globe activists marched to the Lincoln Park Home Depot for a “die-in”: A “colony” of activists in bee costumes swarmed around a neonicotinoid-treated plant purchased from the store, then sprawled across the pavement outside the entrance. Afterward, the demonstrators returned the plant for a full refund.

Kristin Garcia, one of the participating “bees,” explained to In These Times why she’d joined the action, “[If] we don’t have bees, we don’t have pollination. We don’t have pollination, we don’t have food.”

Not-so-bee-friendly

Neonicotinoids, the most popular family of insecticides, were developed in the mid-90s when researchers set out to create compounds that were highly lethal to insects but had little effect on mammals. Commonly used to repel insects such as aphids, Japanese beetles and whiteflies, neocotinoids are systemic pesticides that spread to all parts of the plant, including the flowers—which means bees come into contact with the chemicals.

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