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July 29: Special visit from local beekeeper Steve Ellis

We started off today with freshly baked scones and a visit from Steve Ellis, a local beekeeper. Steve is currently involved in a court case, Ellis vs. EPA, which seeks to increase regulation on the use of pesticides, especially neonicotinoids, when used in areas where bees forage. He told us about how neonicotinoids are nearly ubiquitous in today’s agricultural system, coated on corn, soybean, and many other crops. These are systemic pesticides which means that the chemicals are taken up by all parts of the plant. Anything that eats the plant—including the pollen that the plant produces—is exposed to the chemicals. Although they are basically safe for humans, they cause mortality to bees in high dosages. Even more troubling, though, is that they frequently have sublethal effects on bees even at very low concentrations. This can compromise their ability to forage, overwinter, effectively provide pollination, and reproduce. Steve emphasized that there is a lot that we don’t know about the effects of neonicotinoids, such as their long-term effects in the ecosystem. Steve is very active as an advocate for bee health, spending much of his time talking to legislators and people like us to spread the word about what is happening to bees. He told us that one of the most important things that we can do are to buy organic food, which will reduce both our own and the bees’ exposure to chemicals.

Local beekeeper and activist Steve Ellis visited this morning

Local beekeeper and activist Steve Ellis visited this morning

We finished up some phenology before lunch. It was too windy here (gusting up to 40 mph) to do crosses for the q3 experiment, so instead we did more phenology (less to do tomorrow!) and sent teams out with the GPS units to make sure the maps we are using include all of our plants. Tomorrow we will hopefully be able to do a lot of crossing. We will also do some more GPS surveying and work on independent projects.

 

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