THE BUZZ ABOUT BEE SWARMS
Hosted by The Green Goddess Gardening Column of the Weekly Press
Thursday, March 14, 2013 @ 7:00 PM
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Philadelphia Beekeepers Guild Responds to Inquirer Article
See original Inquirer article here: http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20120423_For_Montco_woman_with_allergy__neighbor_s_beekeeping_is_a_health_issue.html
To the Editor,
As beekeepers and members of the executive committee of the Philadelphia
Beekeepers Guild we felt compelled to write to comment on the article appearing
on April 23rd, “For Montco woman with allergy, neighbor’s beekeeping is a health
We sympathize with Ms. McArthur and others who experience anaphylaxis in
response to bee stings. We want to emphasize, however, that for 98% of the general
population, being stung by a bee does not pose a health hazard. Furthermore,
honeybees are gentle and unlikely to sting unless directly threatened. In contrast to
look-alike yellow jackets, honeybees can sting only once and die shortly afterward;
for them, stinging is often a last resort in hive defense.
All of us keep bees in and around Philadelphia. Several of our Guild members have
apiaries at elementary and middle schools; many of us keep them in small back and
front yards and on decks and patios. Our honeybees coexist happily and safely in
close proximity to our families and neighbors.
It has been our combined experience that it is more likely that yellow jackets, wasps,
and hornets, being more aggressive than honeybees, are the cause of most insect
stings. Of course, as beekeepers we have all been stung from time to time when
working in our hives, usually when we are rushing or careless. We have varying
physical responses to being stung, but temporary swelling and itching are the most
As beekeepers and bee advocates, we spend much of our time educating the public
about the differences between honeybees and other stinging insects. We also work
to promote responsible and sustainable beekeeping in our region. We acknowledge
that as beekeepers we owe it to our neighbors to effectively communicate, educate,
and be sensitive to their concerns. That’s why when establishing hives, we follow
guidelines issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture to ensure that our
honeybee colonies are compliant with state law and do not compromise the welfare
of the community.
Honeybees will forage up to 5 miles in search of nectar and pollen to raise their
young. They serve an important role as pollinators, and they mostly keep to
themselves. We hope that your readers will take this case in perspective: Honeybees
are already everywhere around us. Living near honeybees is not a health issue for
the vast majority of people, and limiting their placement to land parcels of an acre or
more will not really mitigate risk for the 2% of people for which going outside at all
already poses a danger.
Blamed for Bee Collapse Monsanto Buys Leading Bee Research Firm
A honey bee swarm | Photo courtesy of Adam Schreiber
Finding a flash mob of 25,000 honey bees in your yard or on the side of your home might alarming, but local beekeepers are asking you to resist calling an exterminator to eliminate these valuable pollinators. Instead, call your local beekeeper. You’ll be doing your whole community a valuable service, and it won’t cost you anything.
Spring is swarming season, when honey bee populations spike, and some bees leave their hives to form new colonies. After leaving their original hive, the bees will cluster temporarily on a nearby branch or protected area while scout bees go in search of a new, permanent home. The cluster may stay in the temporary location for a few hours, or a few days. It is important to note that during this time the bees are very docile. They will avoid human contact, and will not sting or become aggressive unless unduly provoked. This is the time to act fast and contact your local beekeeper.
Beekeepers can carefully remove virtually the entire migrant colony, often in less than an hour. The captured bees can then be added to the beekeeper’s apiary where they will be safely housed, and become valuable assets. Instead of being killed, the bees will aid in honey production and pollination. It’s a win-win for the community, the beekeepers, and the honey bees.
Saving honey bees from extermination is especially beneficial in recent years as populations have been declining due to parasites, viruses and indiscriminate pesticide use. It is important to do everything we can to promote the welfare of this valuable pollinating insect. For a list of beekeepers that will capture swarms in your area, visit the Philadelphia Beekeepers Guild website phillybeekeepers.org/
Clothianidin’s major risk concern is to nontarget insects (that is, honey bees). Clothianidin is a neonicotinoid insecticide that is both persistent and systemic. Acute toxicity studies to honey bees show that clothianidin is highly toxic on both a contact and an oral basis. Although EFED does not conduct RQ based risk assessments on non-target insects, information from standard tests and field studies, as well as incident reports involving other neonicotinoids insecticides (e.g., imidacloprid) suggest the potential for long-term toxic risk to honey bees and other beneficial insects.
Theobold got the document by asking for it – it’s in the public record – and it shows that despite their own scientist’s warnings, despite the ban on these chemicals in most EU countries, despite the growing threat of Colony Collapse our friendly government went ahead and gave Bayer permission to inject this poison into our food supply.
Ms. Schwartz’ articles:
Google Search for Clothianidin – opens in a new window