WASHINGTON, DC – The Keep the Hives Alive Tour kicks off today to raise awareness about the plight of pollinators and how toxic pesticides contribute to their decline. The tour is organized by beekeepers, farmers, farmworkers, scientists and advocates and will stop in South Dakota, Minnesota, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina before and during National Pollinator Week, June 13-23. Beekeepers will drive a bee truck between each stop, with a display of dead bees to demonstrate one beekeepers loss. The tour will end in Washington, D.C. with a Congressional briefing, rally and lobby days to urge the EPA, the USDA and Congress to take action on toxic pesticides and support sustainable agriculture.
U.S. beekeepers have continued to suffer annual hive losses of 40 percent or more, costing over $2 billion each year. Beekeepers, farmers, farmworkers, scientists and advocates across the nation are taking to the road to raise awareness about the plight of pollinators and call for positive changes in the face of little action from the federal government.
“Given the facts we have at hand about the links between neonics and bee die-offs, officials should move boldly and swiftly to stop any and all uses of these dangerous chemicals,” said Anna Aurilio, the director of the Washington, D.C., office of Environment America. “That’s why our canvassers are talking to hundreds of thousands of Americans this summer, letting them know that for the sake of the bees and our food supply, there’s no time to waste.”
“I've personally shown and explained to high level EPA and Chem Manufacturing the issues beekeepers are experiencing with extremely excessive annual bee losses, they have seen, and know,” said Jeff Anderson, owner Minnesota Honey Farms. “With EPA operating as the best bureaucracy money can buy, and the Chem people fixated on profits; it ain't changing. I'm trusting that the few representative dead bees--which could have been harvested from 75 sprayed hives-- will convince our policymakers to take action.”
“If you want to save the bees, heal the soil. The bee problem is just the tip of the ice berg. This is a biodiversity crisis, and the bees happen to be a very public face for it. We are losing bees, bats, birds, butterflies, mammals at an alarming rate,” said Jon Lundgren, owner Blue Dasher Farm.
"What does the death of bees have to do with environmental justice? Here in Detroit, our communities of color have launched an urban farm movement - we are empowered to grow our own food. If the bees die, we can't grow food, it’s as simple as that. On top of that, low income and underserved communities are already disproportionately impacted by toxic chemicals, so adding pesticides to the mix just makes it worse. We look to those entrusted with protecting us to halt the use of bee killing and community harming pesticides," says Guy Williams, President and CEO, Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice.
“What do bees and farmworkers have in common? Both are regularly exposed to pesticides that impact their and their offsprings’ health,” said Jeannie Economos, pesticide health and safety project coordinator of the Farmworker Association of Florida. “The risks and consequences of pesticide exposure are experienced first and foremost by the men, women and even children working in agriculture, planting, harvesting, cultivating, and packing the products that the rest of us use and consume. We must work together to protect the health of farmworkers, pollinators and the planet. We all depend on it.”
“Bayer is spending millions dollars on its Bee Care Tour -- a PR stunt try to fix its tainted image amongst farmers and beekeepers.” Angus Wong of SumOfUs.org. “But luckily, thousands of our members chipped in for a counter tour to show what the billion dollar corporation's pesticide is really doing to our pollinators.”
The Keep the Hives Alive Tour is supported by American Bird Conservancy, Beyond Pesticides, Blue Dasher Farm, California-Minnesota Honey Farm, Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Food Safety, Clean Up the River Environment, Earthjustice, Endangered Species Coalition, Environment America, Farmworker Association of Florida, Friends of the Earth, Green America, Hackenburg Apiaries, National Family Farm Coalition, Land Stewardship Project , League of Conservation Voters, Natural Resources Defense Council, Old Mill Honey Company, Organic Consumers Association, Pesticide Action Network North America, Pollinate Minnesota, Pollinator Stewardship Council, SumofUs, The Ecology Center, Toxic Free North Carolina, and Washtenaw County Food Policy Council
More information on bee declines, tour stops and coalition policy demands is available at keephivesalive.org.