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Local Bees in Danger
updated: Apr 12, 2013, 9:06 AM
By Todd Bebb of Santa Barbara Beekeepers Association
In response to the discovery of 7 Asian Citrus Psyllid (ACP) in residential citrus trees in Santa Barbara
and Goleta, the California Department of Food & Agriculture (CDFA) is planning a targeted pesticide
application in Goleta, around the Fairview and Cathedral Oaks area, possibly affecting hundreds of
residential properties. This application follows on the heels of similar sprayings throughout the State,
and most recently, Santa Maria.
According to the CDFA, ACP can carry and transmit a devastating bacterial disease called
Huanglongbing (HLB). It should be noted that HLB has not been detected in any of the samples, but
because of risk to the citrus industry, the state has been aggressively monitoring and attempting to
control the pest. Few alternatives to this treatment exist, though netting citrus trees is an option that
organic growers have used successfully.
The three pesticides intended to be applied including Imidacloprid, a neonicotinoid, all are labeled by
the manufacturer to be "highly toxic to bees exposed to direct treatment or residues on blooming crops
or weeds." Dozens of independent studies on Imidacloprid, as well as other neonicotinoid pesticides
confirm impacts on bees and colony health including colony collapse disorder (CCD). (see NY Times link
below) As many citrus trees are currently in bloom in the intended treatment area where local bees are
foraging, an application of these insecticides poses an extremely high risk of poisoning, injuring, and
potentially exterminating local honeybee colonies.
Recently, 18 beehives collapsed in nearby Montecito. Penn State University tested samples of the comb
and honey which showed the presence of a number of pesticides. Penn State Senior Extension Associate,
Maryann Frazier remarked, "Honey bees across the country are being exposed to a great diversity and
sometimes high levels of pesticides. While the evidence associated with the Montecito die-off is not
conclusive, the symptoms of colony deaths and detections of low levels of pesticides toxic to honey
bees are suspicious and cause for concern."
Just recently, several beekeepers and public interest groups filed a lawsuit against the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding the "conditional registration" of neonicotinoids, and
labeling deficiencies. (see PANNA link below)
CDFA will be sending notifications to homeowners within the treatment area within 72 hours of a
scheduled public hearing. Treatments will commence within 48 hours after this meeting. This meeting
has now been scheduled for Monday, April 15th, 2013, at 5:30pm at the Goleta Valley Community
Center, Dining Hall located at 5679 Hollister Avenue, Goleta, CA 93117
Residents DO have the option of requesting to opt out of treatment and should inquire further.
Honeybees are responsible for the pollination of at least 95 kinds of crops. Local beekeepers and
supporters of beekeeping are highly committed to providing safe, healthy, and pesticide-free
environments for honeybees, as well as other important pollinators.
"Honeybees and other pollinators are getting hit hard, but there are things we can do to reduce the
threats to them," said SBBA President, Paul Cronshaw.
Voluntary monitoring and treatments using less invasive and harmful methods by owners of Citrus
Trees are encouraged.
The USDA has published
this document about treatments
The CDFA has published this one about ACP/HLB Facts and
About the Santa Barbara Beekeepers Association: The Santa Barbara Beekeeper's Association is
dedicated to the promotion and advancement of beekeeping through best management practices, the
education and mentoring of people about honey bees and beekeeping, and increasing public awareness
of environmental concerns affecting honey bees. For more information or to donate, go to:
NY Times Article
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