According to John Ross Crooks, editor of Sovereign Living magazine, 23% of American honeybee colonies died in 2013. In fact, every year since 2006, about 30% of the nation’s honeybee colonies have perished. If honeybee populations continue to decline, a serious crisis lies ahead because they are vital to insect-pollinated plants that make up 1/3 of the human diet. The USDA estimates $15 billion in agricultural production hinges on the survival of the American honeybee.
There is still some mystery behind colony collapse. Monoculture (the practice of growing a single crop over a large area), parasites, pesticides, sickness, genetics and habitat loss are believed to be factors. However, according to recent study by the Harvard School of Public Health, neonicotinoid, a pesticide class similar to nicotine, is a significant factor in the shocking decline of honeybee colonies. Neonicotinoids are applied to seeds of industrialized crops such as corn. The poison seeps into the seed and renders the plant toxic to insects. Normally, this doesn’t affect bees, because they don’t pollinate corn, wheat or soybeans. But modern mechanized planting techniques result in large clouds of neonicotinoid dust which can drift and blanket the areas that bees visit. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has banned the pesticide in Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Hawaii. The European Environment Agency (EEA) has banned three of the seven types of neonicotinoids.