EPA’s “New” Restrictions Fail to Protect Honey Bees as Promised

Beyond Pesticides, June 1, 2015

Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a proposal intended to create “physical and temporal space” between bees and toxic pesticides. While touted as monumental progress on bee health by the agency, the reality is that the proposal will only result in modest changes to pesticide labels. EPA’s new rules contain only a temporary ban on foliar applications of acutely bee-toxic pesticide products, including neonicotinoid class insecticides, during bloom and when a beekeeper is on site and under contract. The proposal doesn’t address the widespread contamination and detrimental effects of these toxic, systemic (wh0le plant poisons) chemicals that will continue to occur even during the temporary prohibition.

Gary Tate Riverside CA Honey Bee taking flight Riverside CaMedia reports have generally overstated the implications of the proposal, applauding the “new” restrictions, and labeling the small portion of agricultural land that is affected as “pesticide-free zones,” which couldn’t be further from the truth. The restrictions are not anything new – EPA pesticide labels already prohibit applications while in bloom where bees are foraging. Neal Bergman, a commercial beekeeper in Missouri, said in a statement to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the proposal is “basically enforcing label guidelines,” further highlighting the fact that EPA has failed to protect bees in the past. EPA did make one label change that eliminated the 48-hour rule exception, which previously allowed foliar application of pesticides while honey bees were on the property, as long as bee keepers were given notice no less than 48 hours in advance. Unfortunately, this minor label change won’t stop the widespread contamination of landscapes or prevent harm associated with systemic neonicotinoids. These dangerous pesticides have been linked to the global disappearance of honey bees and other non-target organisms, such as earthworms, birds, and aquatic invertebrates.

Arty turns 11 this summer.