Disappearing Honeybees? That’s Easy—Factory Farm Them!


CCDInstead of getting rid of the pesticides that are killing the bees, the ag industry wants to create a big new market for high-fructose corn syrup. Action Alert!

Since 2006, up to 40% of the bee colonies in the US have suffered Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), in which honeybees die, disoriented, far from their hives. The honeybee pollinates a third of all the food we eat and contributes an estimated $15 billion in annual agriculture revenue to the US economy alone. Fresh fruits and vegetables, in particular, would simply not exist without honeybees.

As we reported in April, a study by the European Food Safety Authority has definitively linked CCD to neonicotinoid pesticides. At least 143 million of the 442 million acres—that is, nearly one-third—of US cropland is planted with crops treated with these neuroactive insecticides, which are related to nicotine and are highly toxic to bees. In the US, 100% of corn and canola is treated with neonicotinoids, as well as 65% of soybeans and almost all cotton, wheat, and smaller acreage crops. The pesticide expresses itself through the plants’ pollen and nectar—the honeybee’s favorite sources of food.

A recent Time magazine article notes a number of potential reasons for CCD, including deadly bacteria and viruses—but nearly all researchers agree that the main culprits are general chemical exposure and pesticides (neonicotinoids in particular). A study of honeybee pollen found nine different pesticides and fungicides in it on average.

Unfortunately, the agriculture industry doesn’t want their profitable pesticides tampered with: there are over 1,200 pesticides currently in use in the US, and many are made by the same companies that engineer the crop seeds. So instead, Big Farma has begun creating CAFO-like conditions for bees! It’s already happening on a small scale; many argue that it may be the only alternative if we don’t reign in the pesticides. “Bees may end up managed like cattle, pigs and chicken, where we put them in confinement and bring the food to them,” said one beekeeper and independent researcher quoted in the Time article. “You…do feedlot beekeeping.”

In these factory farm hives, commercial beekeepers have already begun to feed bees with sugar and high-fructose corn syrup rather than (or in addition to) honey made in the usual way. Some scientists worry that replacing honey with sugar or corn syrup will leave bees less capable of fighting off infections. We think the reality is even worse: the sugar will come from GMO sugar beets, and the HFCS from GMO corn. These, of course, could affect the health of the bees in the long run nearly as much as the pesticides do! You may recall the studies of GMO grains on small mammals in which the offspring became sterile by the third generation. What if all the bees were to suddenly stop reproducing?

Monsanto is working on other GMO “fixes” for CCD as well: they’re developing RNA-interference technology that will kill one of the viruses thought to be killing the bees, the Varroa mite, by interfering with the way the bees’ genes are expressed. In addition, scientists at Harvard are experimenting with tiny “robobees” that might one day be sent out to pollinate—though even if technologically possible, it’s hard to see how this would ever be economically feasible. Besides that, we just don’t know that much; there will always be unintended consequences.

Despite heavy lobbying by Bayer and Sygenta, the European Commission has decided to put a two-year restriction on some neonicotinoids while it gathers safety data.  In stark contrast, the US Environmental Protection Agency, heedless of the scientific evidence, released a report on CCD in which pesticides were not even mentioned as a potential cause! In 2011, the agency said it would review Bayer’s neonicontinoid pesticide—a review that still hasn’t been completed.

Recently, however, EPA announced that manufacturers of neonicotinoids must include a label to warn users of the risk to bees and recommend they restrict its use under certain conditions. In other words, while EPA is finally acknowledging that the pesticide can kill honeybees, the agency isn’t suspending or banning its use. Instead, they’re letting manufacturers off the hook by requiring only the barest minimum—labeling.

Action Alert! A new bill, HR 2692, “The Saving America’s Pollinators Act of 2013,” has been introduced in the House by Rep. John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI) and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR). It would suspend the use of neonicotinoids until the EPA can prove that the insecticide “will not cause unreasonable adverse effects on pollinators” (a term that includes native bees, honeybees, birds, bats, and other species of beneficial insects). This proof of safety would need to be in the form of published scientific research together with a completed field study. Please contact your representative and urge his or her support of HR 2692. Take action immediately!


  • Rebecca Meylor

    The facebook link did not work.

  • I am greatly concerned about careless profiteering at the expense of our populations’ health in general. The same companies that create the health problems gladly step up to the plate to create a cure for the ailments they created in the first place. Yet the best solution is always to treat the health problems at the beginning by eliminating the cause rather than treating it after the fact.

  • Donald Beasley

    Instead of making ideas which serve the common goods, some of our “public servants” would rather find new and better ways to serve their own narrow interests.

  • Judy Holmes

    Eventually they may come up with an insecticide that may kill only people, not insects. Maybe that’s their intent! Idiots!!

  • Jim Brown

    We need to ban – without exception or time limit – neonicotinoids. We already know it is bad. Who are these government agencies representing – only chemical companies/manufactures. It is time to get some real regulators in the field.


    I was a bee keeper when we lived in Wisconsin. When we move to North Carolina my neighbor was allergic to bee venom, thus ended my bee keeping. I’m retired and over 83 years of age. However, I would still like to do anything I’d be able to in order to help. I realize a large part of commercial America is the main problem.

  • Renee J

    We truly live in a sick, sad world. We are all so screwed and no one cares and nothing is really being done. There will be no flesh left on this earth if things continue as they are. Is there really nothing that man won’t screw with and corrupt to turn a buck? Is there nothing pure or uncontaminated on this earth? How can we just let this happen? Nature has it’s own way, it’s own system, and it would be fine if mankind didn’t have his nose so deep in it’s business that nothing can flourish. I’m pleased I have no children, for the future looks quite bleak, and it goes well beyond the bees.

  • Joyce Duke

    The pesticides may be part of the cause, but after reading what the GMO produce does to the study creatures it is fed to, one wonders if it isn’t toxic pollen collected from these Monsanto’s
    GMO seeds that are killing off our friendly little pollinators.

    For those of you who haven’t seen the results of what the GMO produce does to living things, please read up on India’s study that caused them to outlaw all Monsanto seeds from India. The
    longest study done on the GMO produce to date is France’s 2 year study. Take a good look at
    what it did to their little creatures, and join the fight to make them label all GMO produce so we can avoid them. The FDA and the USDA have already said they will not require them to label produce grown from Monsanto’s GMO seeds.

  • Honeybees are dying because they are digesting unnatural GMO pollen and because they are coming in contact with pesticides, in increasing – rather than decreasing – use as GMO crops become more dominate.

    The answer is not to factory-feed honey bees with unnatural substances.

    The answer is to outlaw GMO crops and regulate pesticides. Which is what Europe is already doing.

    European nations are more concerned with keeping their populations healthy, as their healthcare is provided as a right, rather than an increasingly unaffordable privilege.

    We are wrong.They are right. Get over it. Fix it.

  • Richard Bruno

    Are these companies insane? ONLY bees can pollinate our crops…. Dear Madam or sir, PLEASE stop allowing all this damage to our fragile planet. Represent your constituents and ignore the lobbyists, whom I feel have no business in our halls of government! God is watching ALL of you…

    Sincerely, Richard A. Bruno Jr.

  • Robert Cruder

    It is common for even amateur bee keepers to feed sugar to a hive that has insufficient honey to survive the winter. Bee losses are forcing them to expand supplementary feeding to reduce the number of bees sacrificed during the winter.

    I have heard of no locals supplementing with honey since that was sold earlier in the season. They use whatever is least expensive and that may well be corn sweetener. Also remember that corn sweetener can include the original Karo version that contains no fructose. They supplement only for subsistence and avoid offering quantities that might get stored as honey. Chinese suppliers have adulterated honey with corn sweetener and buyers test for it. U.S. honey producers do not want to be falsely accused.

    Colony collapse is a serious enough problem to be fought in its own rite. Muddying the water by confabulating it with corporate farming and highly-processed foods detracts because the general public has no will to fight those.

  • What’s sad is that all of the wireless technology and man made radio frequency emissions which have left the rooftops of emitter saturated technology centers completely covered with dead bird carcasses are being entirely overlooked as a cause here. I for one have seen the evidence first hand of what these cell masts and heavily concentrated cellular epi centers are doing to our environment. The regulatory bodies have completely sold out and we are all doomed.

    • Abe

      With names like “Radar Range” and “Microwave Oven” says it all. Just like that video of cell phones popping pop corn.

  • J Becker

    When solving one problem by creating another, more virulent problem, it would be so helpful if the culprits would simply think the issue through from beginning to end. I realize the original plan by Monsanto was to make the US self-reliant on food sources, when in fact they have created a monster that IS now affecting such little beings as bees, our genetics and health. It will only end when enough people in power say NO to them. Where are the boundaries? Where are the brilliant minds? What has happened to the notion of conservatorship of our planet? I only wish I knew where my vote would make a difference. From this article even the lowly food – honey – is being poisoned. At this point, I believe the most I can do is educational . . . to state the obvious to help others be aware.

  • tina tine’

    we don’t need to junk up our food even more.

  • Ekko

    I can’t believe they’re still debating this, pesticides kill bugs, bees are bugs. Very simple.

  • Abe

    Maybe it’s time to cross some Honey Bees with the DNA of a Blue Ringed Octopus and then turn them loose on Washington DC!
    This government couldn’t get anymore corrupt even if it wanted to! Two Teams. same agenda!

  • Abe

    No doubt as to why everyone calls them Monsatan! I thought when they bought out Beeologics it was to rig the data on bees. Hell they want to rig the bees themselves!

    Monsanto In Route to Control Seeds & Pollination

    Monsanto is already on its way to owning most of the seeds on the planet. They are replacing the natural spirit made food with Monsanto made frankenfood. They now also want to own the means of pollinating the food. Their frankenfoods that produce pesticides are believed by beekeepers to be killing the honey bees. Monsanto’s solution to the colony collapse disorder is to replace God’s honeybees with Monsanto’s genetically modified bees that are resistant to all the pesticide producing food they make.

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