Beekeepers have the patience of Job

  Dear HCN,


First, on behalf of the beekeeping industry, I want to thank the High Country News for running what is probably the most comprehensive look at Penncap-M since it was introduced in 1974 (HCN, 1/20/97).


I would like to clarify two points, however. The first is that, contrary to their claims, Colorado state pesticide regulators have had ample opportunity to determine the connection between Penncap sprays and bee kills.


In August of 1994, we had a spray kill here in Niwot which affected seven beekeepers in a small area. The aerial applicator had called the night before to tell me that he would be spraying Penncap-M on corn. The state was called the day of the application and collected samples of dead bees and vegetation two days after the spray had been applied. Positive identification of methyl parathion was found in the dead bees as well as on a non-target cornfield shedding pollen and being foraged heavily by the bees, and on a hive top in a beeyard over 1,000 feet from the nearest target field.


This was not a case of trying to identify a culprit months after the fact, but the state concluded that, while they had identified methyl parathion, they couldn't tell if it was Penncap-M.


The second thing I want to comment on is the charge that beekeepers are whiners and grousers. We certainly have no corner on that market in the agricultural community. Just go to any rural cafe and listen for a while. One of the rights of agriculture is the freedom to bitch about everything - weather, the season, prices, bugs, neighbors, the government, your wife's cooking. Most of it is harmless and it fills the time.


Far from being grumblers, beekeepers have been amazingly tolerant of their situation. They went public with the Penncap-M story only after several frustrating years of trying to resolve the problem quietly from within the system. Beekeepers have been hammered by pesticides for 50 years, and today 10-15 million acres of suitable bee pasture in the United States are uninhabitable for beekeepers because of the intensity of pesticide use.


Most beekeepers have tried to compromise by working with growers and applicators, but many others have just absorbed the losses and remained silent. In Colorado alone, beekeepers reported losses from spraying in 1996 totaling $1.3 million. To what degree Penncap may be involved is unknown, but it's clear that the damage is significant even without it.


These spray losses represent 56 percent of cash receipts for the industry in 1993 (the most recent year for which ag statistics are available). Those same yearly losses for Colorado cattlemen would translate to 2.6 million 800-pound slaughter steers, for corn growers 4.9 billion pounds and for wheat farmers 39 million bushels. Do you think we would see some action if these commodities were experiencing these kinds of losses?


Whiners? I think not. Instead, beekeepers have shown the patience of Job.


Tom Theobald


Niwot, Colorado





High Country News Classifieds
  • WYOMING STATE DIRECTOR
    Save the World ... or at least a piece of it! Join The Nature Conservancy and make a tangible and lasting impact by creating a...
  • PROGRAM DIRECTOR FOR AN ENVIRONMENTAL ADVOCACY NON-PROFIT NEAR YOSEMITE
    Demanding, but rewarding, advocacy work on forest, water, wildland, and wildlife issues. Applicants should have experience dealing with land management planning, public speaking, grassroots organizing,...
  • NEW AGRARIAN APPRENTICESHIP
    Quivira Coalition's 2020 New Agrarian Apprenticeships in Regenerative Ranching and Farming -Apprenticeships run 4/20 - 11/20 Applications accepted 10/15/19 - 12/1/19 NAP partners with skilled...
  • PHILANTHROPY DIRECTOR
    Wilderness Workshop seeks a full time Philanthropy Director to raise funds for our team. Learn more: www.wildernessworkshop.org
  • EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT WITH WESTERN RESOURCE ADVOCATES
    Western Resource Advocates (WRA) seeks an enthusiastic and organized problem solver to join our growing team as an Executive Assistant. The Executive Assistant is instrumental...
  • WYOMING OUTDOOR COUNCIL
    Two positions: Development Director OR Development Writer, Communications Director. Full job descriptions at https://wyomingoutdoorcouncil.org/careers.
  • CONSERVATION PROJECT MANAGER
    Great Land Trust seeks to hire a Conservation Project Manager. Position is full-time, based in Anchorage, Alaska. First review of applications will be on October...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Eagle Valley Land Trust Executive Director Position Description Summary of Position: The Executive Director, working with and reporting to the Board of Directors, has overall...
  • FINANCE & LOGISTICS COORDINATOR
    The Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory, founded in 1928 as an independent nonprofit organization, is a biological field station located near Crested Butte, Colorado. Our primary...
  • DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR
    See Full Job Description
  • DEVELOPMENT COORDINATOR
    Position: Development Coordinator Responsible to: Executive Director Time Commitment: 15-20 hours per week, or as otherwise agreed upon General Description: The Development Coordinator assists the...
  • EDUCATION CENTER MANAGER
    Friends of Cedar Mesa seeks a full-time Education Manager for the Bears Ears Education Center to provide day to day operational and administrative oversight. See...
  • TROUT UNLIMITED SCP SOUTHWEST REGIONAL DIRECTOR
    Seeking to hire an experienced advocate/manager to oversee the organization's sportsmen/women-driven advocacy in Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona. Open until filled
  • PROGRAM MANAGER
    for northern AZ collaborative conservation ranchlands group
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Partners are seeking an experienced and energetic Executive Director who is excited about the opportunity to lead our growing organization! A full description of the...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    High Country News Seeks an Executive Director to advance its mission, grow its audience and influence, and strategically and sustainably guide the organization through a...
  • 2 PROPERTIES ON THE WESTERN EDGE OF THE GILA WILDERNESS
    Organic farm, hot springs, San Francisco River runs through both. [email protected]
  • CHUCK BURR'S CULTUREQUAKE.COM BLOG
    Change will happen when we see a new way of living. Thinking to save the world.
  • SOCIETY FOR WILDERNESS STEWARDSHIP BOARD MEMBER
    Join the SWS board and help us broaden, diversify, and engage the wilderness community.
  • NEW MEXICO BIRDER'S PARADISE.
    Fully furnished 2B/2B home near Bosque del Apache NWR, great for nature lovers.