Beekeepers can learn from the past to insure the future

In this photo, a helicopter is loaded with pesticides. Katie Gwinn, a local farmer and former beekeeper, stressed that helicopter spray applications drift too far off target, posing a deadly threat to honey bees and other pollinators.

This is the first part of a talk given by Katie Gwinn to the Carroll County Beekeepers Group on Monday, October 3, 2022 at the agricultural extension office in Hillsville.

Katie Gwinn, a local farmer and Project Mountain Pride survey organizer, spoke at the Carroll County Beekeepers Association’s Oct. 3 meeting, titled “Natural Beekeeping Options for Healthy Hives.”

Gwinn told attendees that he previously worked at Kohnen Bee Farm in Glenn, Calif., as a beekeeper responsible for caring for the “baby queens” and raising adult queens for shipment to beekeepers around the world. He said he received experimental hives from Virginia Tech at his Floyd County farm several years ago as part of a study on organic beekeeping and nutritional supplements.

“I have always loved bees and since 1969 I have planted bee-friendly flowers and shrubs on each of my farms to support their presence. As you already know, bees are responsible for pollinating more than a hundred food crops around the world. We can thank a honey bee for every third bite we eat. They say, “No farm, no food,” but it’s largely true: “No bees, no food, no farms,” ​​Gwinn said. “Something has gone terribly wrong in the world of bees. Forage loss, toxic environments, disease and colony collapse have caused the nightmares that modern beekeepers now face. How can we turn this around and return to healthy and productive bees and beekeeping with a smile?”

Some sources report that 40 percent of beehives in the United States have disappeared because agricultural pesticides are literally “biting the hand that feeds us,” Gwinn said. He said colony collapse disorder (CCD) emerged as a “red alert” or “canary in the coal mine”.

“According to award-winning investigative journalist and clean food activist Mike Adams, organophosphates such as malathion and parathion, which were developed for chemical warfare against humans in Nazi Germany, are also toxic to bees,” Gwinn said. “Parathion, which has killed hundreds of agricultural workers, is acutely toxic, especially to bees, and once one of the most toxic substances widely used in agriculture, is now banned in the United States, and all other organophosphates are banned by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in habitats. uses, but is still allowed in agricultural applications. Another class of pesticides, the pyrethroids, are derived from pyrethrin in chrysanthemums, but are now synthesized with toxic chemicals to remain in the environment as pesticides. These are also toxic to bees and other pollinators. An organic compound called a carbamate A class of pesticides consists of carbamic acid, one of which is called Propoxur, which is highly toxic to honey bees.

He said recent research has found that all living things, including bees and plants, have immune systems, and fungicides have also killed bees because pollen contaminated with high levels of fungicides is known to weaken the immune system of honeybees and make them prey. to diseases and parasites.

“Glyphosate, like Roundup, has proven to adversely affect pollinators with its persistent and highly toxic adjuvants, initiators and surfactants, and is responsible for the destruction of much of the pollinator’s habitat and forage,” Gwinn said. “In short, these pesticides have been identified by the authorities as mass bee killers and have been produced for years by giant biotech firms such as Monsanto, Syngenta and Bayer, who have made billions of dollars selling these products without full knowledge of their harmful effects on honey bees and humans. Most of these pesticides are completely banned in the European Union.

Another issue now is pesticide residues in honey, Gwinn told attendees. The US EPA and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have been made aware of these issues and have conducted some initial testing of honey for residues and are considering setting tolerance levels for honey.

According to Carey Gillum, another award-winning investigative journalist who covers corporate America, particularly food, agriculture and glyphosate, “business owners who keep bees and sell honey are worried. They say it’s frustrating to know that they can’t keep their produce free of a pesticide that has no benefit and no benefit at all.’ I’m sure you all know the feeling here because honeybees have forage ranges up to two miles from the hives and it’s hard to keep them out of trouble,” Gwinn said.

“Well, that’s bad news. Now here’s the worse news: the practice of aerial spraying by helicopter or plane can, depending on weather conditions and time of day, amplify the harmful and lethal effects of pesticides on honey bees and other pollinators by ten to twenty times compared to ground spraying. and laying of land. Aerial spraying is especially difficult in these mountains, where microclimates can vary from noisy to cold. Toxic sprays, despite the pilot’s best intentions, have a way of getting where they want to go, possibly on your property.

This article will be concluded in next week’s edition of The Carroll News under the headline “Good News: There Are Safer Alternatives.”

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