Welcome to “Tom’s Corner,” a blog about bee decline by Tom Theobald, founding member of the Boulder County Beekeepers’ Association. In July 2010 Theobald wrote an article about clothianidin and bees for Bee Culture magazine that ignited a conversation about the connection between systemic pesticides and declining bee populations in the United States. Timeline here:
I did these two interviews recently with Terry Oxford on her podcast, Pollinators and Power. Some minor corrections on Interview #1: the Colorado County Bee Inspector position was created in 1891, not 1861, and I have been a beekeeper for 44 years, not 35. On Interview #2, a little more serious error. I refer to the toxic equivalent of neonicotinoids to DDT in millions of pounds, it should be billions.
Interview #1 – on how regulatory agencies and land grant universities protect the pesticide industry over pollinators and people.
Interview #2 – Hear Tom speak about the outcome and non-win of Center for Food Safety’s recent settlement with the EPA and poison industry.
Many of you will be taking your honey off soon. I stumbled across this video this afternoon and thought some of you would find it interesting and informative. We did several of these videos for the Maria Rogers Oral History Program about 15 or 20 years ago. This is typical of what pulling honey would be for medium size beekeeping operation. Before the high colony losses put me out of business a typical harvest would have been several tons of premium table honey.
For any of you who have a sideline operation, a pickup truck and are tiring of lifting all of your supers, Boom Boom the Iron Man (the lift at the end of the video) is for sale since I no longer have a use for it.
These videos should all be on the internet, go to the Boulder Public Library’s YouTube channel and search for Tom Theobald. The MROHP interviews are currently located within the Oral History Interviews Playlist. There are 5 covering all aspects of a year of beekeeping,
This video is particularly poignant for me because Barbara is in it, before ovarian cancer took her away and left a huge hole in my life and my heart.
Neonicotinoids are 5,000 to 10,000 times more toxic to honey bees than DDT and are now the most widely used pesticides in the United States and worldwide. They can last for years and minute doses over time will lead to death as surely as larger acute doses. Because of this long term effect they are probably even more toxic than what the AITL study found, that the toxicity of U.S. agriculture to insects is 48 times what it was 25 years ago when neonicotinoids were first introduced. 92 percent of this increase is attributed to the neonicotinoids.
The environmental consequence has been a worldwide collapse of insect populations and movement up the food chain to species such as insectivorous birds. More concerning is the emerging medical evidence connecting neonicotinoids with neurological and behavioral disorders, particularly in young children.
Many European countries have banned the use of neonicotinoids, but in the U.S. the EPA has ignored the evidence and has turned a blind eye to the science. As a result the environmental damages in the United States continue to grow each year.
Ultimately, the ongoing saga of bee losses and environmental poisoning is a very human story. Two follow: the first, an audio interview with Davey Hackenberg on Dadant’s Beekeeping Today Podcast. Dave senior was raised on a dairy and started the honey business when he was still in high school. Davey is the second generation, struggling to keep the family business alive.
Perhaps best known as the San Francisco rooftop beekeeper, Terry Oxford has also been a tireless campaigner for neonicotinoid-free trees for the major tree plantings planned for San Francisco. Her interests have expanded to the propagation of native bees, mason bees and leafcutter bees. As an advocate for the health of bees and the environment, Terry has recently begun a series of podcasts. The first two are linked below and I will be posting subsequent podcasts as they are completed.
The first is an interview with Dave Goulson, a leading voice on the worldwide environmental damages being wrought by the neonicotinoids.
The second is an interview with Stacy Malkan of U.S. Right To Know. Stacy is an informed and articulate voice on the corporate manipulation of science and the media, and what she has to say bears directly on the capture of the beekeeper seat on the Colorado Department of Agriculture Pesticide Advisory Committee and the creation of the Colorado Professional Beekeepers Association, both engineered by Bayer CropLife to divide and confuse beekeepers and divert attention away from the devastation of neonics. I encourage you to take the time to listen to both of these excellent interviews.