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The plight of the honeybee

Dear Editor:

The honeybee is dying here in the Roaring Fork Valley and all over the world from what is called “colony collapse disorder,” or CCD. Hives are going from healthy and active to dead.

Honeybees are facing extinction as billions of colonies die worldwide. More than 60 to 90 percent of hives have been reported dead or missing by beekeepers over the last year.

Honeybees are a vital part of our agricultural system. They pollinate more than a third of the food we eat.

As the global collapse of honeybee populations threatens the sustainability of our local food supply as well as the world food supply, pesticides are being banned from other countries, including Canada, Britain and Germany.

Toxins such as pesticides and chemicals are the key cause of the CCD crisis, damaging bee health and making them more susceptible to disease. U.S. scientists have found 121 different pesticides and chemicals in samples of bees, wax and pollen.

Right now in the spring all of the chemical tree service companies are spraying several insecticides as a preventative against white pine weevils and borers on all aspen, ash, pine and spruce trees. The insecticides they are using are bifenthrin – onyx, carbaryl – seven, astro, and imidacloprid. Also, the city of Aspen is considering spraying a chemical on some crabapple trees.

Landowners and chemical companies also spray all summer long for insects, fungus and weeds.

These chemicals and pesticides are applied as a foliage spray or a soil drenching. They can kill off all the insects on the trees immediately, or the build up of toxins eventually will kill them, including honeybees.

The honeybee goes to spruce and deciduous trees starting in the spring and throughout the summer for the bark and sap to create the propolis for the hive. Propolis is a resinous mixture that honeybees collect from tree buds, sap flows or other botanical sources. It is used as a sealant for unwanted open spaces in the hive. Later in the season, the chemical companies also spray unwanted medicinal plants, “weeds.”

Foraging bees who fly up to 3 miles are poisoned by chemicals and pesticides when they absorb the fast-acting toxic chemicals through their integument (the outer “skin” that forms their exoskeleton), drink toxic-tainted nectar, or gather chemical-covered pollen or micro-encapsulated poisons.

In order to create a healthy environment for honeybees and humans here in the Roaring Fork Valley we need to stop spraying toxic pesticides and chemicals and use organic alternatives.

Ginger Janssen

Basalt


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