Beekeepers Say State Is Not Doing Enough To Limit Harmful Pesticides

BOSTON (CBS) – Some Massachusetts beekeepers are buzzing mad, charging that the state is not doing enough to limit pesticides that can kill bees. Why should we care? Because bees are pollinators, crucial to growing our food.

It has been a tough winter in Ann Rein’s backyard. “This hive was fine in October,” she says as she inspects her hives.

Bees in four of the seven hives she keeps at her Hanson home disappeared. “And that’s not atypical for what is going on,” she says.

The bees are most likely dead. “The pollinator death is a terrible problem,” says Rein.

It’s sometimes called colony collapse and has been happening around the world for about 10 years, devastating the number of bees used to pollinate food crops. “There are places in China where they have to hand pollinate plum trees,” Rein says.

Rein also heads the Plymouth County Beekeepers Association, and she’s not happy with some state officials. “We wrote them a beautiful plan and they ignored it,” she says.

What Rein and some beekeepers are upset about is a draft report called “The Massachusetts Pollinator Protection Plan.” They say it doesn’t do nearly enough to protect bees.

Rein wants to cut back on or even ban a certain pesticide that some research shows has been a major cause of colony collapse. “We are trying to get them to actually, actually protect bees,” Rein says.

The state’s Department of Agricultural Resources wouldn’t talk to WBZ about this on-camera, but points out that the plan is a work in progress. In a statement the agency says it will develop a plan that “…ensures apiaries across the Commonwealth remain viable and successful…for generations to come.”

And the stakes are high. Nearly half of all agriculture in Massachusetts relies on bee pollination.

Some beekeepers say the draft plan favors farmers who use pesticides. Farmers certainly don’t see it that way saying they know bees are crucial to their businesses. The next step for the protection plan is for public comment sessions starting next week.

Plymouth County Beekeepers Assoc.

Massachusetts Pollinator Protection Plan: http://www.mass.gov/eea/docs/agr/farmproducts/docs/mdar-pollinator-plan-final-draft.pdf

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