Miles County

  • Miles County lives near the town of Brush, Colo.

    Photo courtesy of Miles County
 

Note: This article is a sidebar to this issue's feature story.

Miles County lives near the town of Brush in northeastern Colorado. Last winter, he lost most of his bees and he suspects the cause was the insecticide Penncap-M.

Miles County: "I think farmers started getting lazy in the 1950s and 1960s. There were so many grasshoppers in the 1940s that people started using the newly developed poisons. Now we use them for everything.

"Twenty years ago, we had a bad grasshopper situation. They were moving into my yard, eating bushes, trees, everything. I panicked and called an aerial sprayer. The next day I went out and found dead snakes, birds, toads and lizards all over the place. I said, 'Wait a minute; something's wrong here.'

"So I bought some turkeys, and boy, did they start eating grasshoppers. I didn't have a grasshopper problem, and I didn't spend a dime on pesticides. I figure I got $100 a bird in savings. And a grasshopper-fed turkey makes a tremendous eating bird.

"If applicators would spray according to the label and shut off their sprayers at the end of the field, I'm sure those chemicals would be safer. But they don't. One time I was in a bee yard and a plane came over and sprayed right on me and the bees.

"I'm a one-man operation. I won't go through another die-off. I just want to survive another year or two, then I'll say the hell with it and quit. But I love the bees. It's just like hunting and fishing. It gets in your blood."