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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 Identification

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: http://www.sbba.org/

Additional Links:

Panna.org

NY Times Article

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