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RE: [Beekeepers' Guild] Fwd: Bees on the Brink

From: Quirion, Jesse T <"Quirion,>
Date: Mon, 7 Jul 2014 14:22:56 -0700


Thank you for sharing this article with us.

City Staff cares about the safety and health of our bee population and we even have a City maintained bee hive that is cared for by our Staff members. The bees in our hive come from nuisances locations throughout the City as well as at risk trees. Whenever a bee hive is endanger our crews suit up in our bee keepers suit and relocate the bees to our safe and well cared for hive. Attached, please find photos of some of the bees which were on display at the last downtown Block Party.

Also, since there have been some concerns raised regarding the use of pesticides specifically RoundUp, we have taken another look at our processes and we are making a few adjustments. At our last Environmental Quality Commission (EQC) meeting our Public Works Parks Supervisor gave the attached presentation to the Commission.

A few key things to note from the presentation are as follows:

· The City has an existing policy in place for the use of pesticides. It is called the Integrated Pest Management Plan (IPM).

· The plan was developed in 1998 and we are currently reviewing the plan and considering updates.

· We currently use a number of methods to control weeds, including; mowing, goats, hand removal, etc. and pesticides are only used when necessary

· Our staff is trained and certified for the use of pesticides by the Pesticide Applicators Professional Association (PAPA)

· Staff only uses Category 3 or 4 herbicides

· Since 1996 we have decreased the amount of herbicides used by 27% while taking on the maintenance responsibilities for an additional 37 acres of parks and fields

Based on feedback received from the Community, we are going to test out the following procedural changes over the next six months and then report back to the EQC with our findings and any recommendations for policy changes:

· Posting spray sites 24 hours before and after.

· Use of colored markers to identify sprayed areas.

· Discontinue spray truck in park areas.

· Within 100 feet of playgrounds, school sites, and dog parks synthetic pesticides “Round Up” will be replaced on a trial basis by non synthetic products.

· Pesticide applications will be done during “non peak use” hours to reduce exposure.

Next Steps:

· Review current City IPM plan and update if warranted.

· Place emphasis on IPM practices and look for ways to continue reducing synthetic pesticide use each year.

· Complete cost and efficiency pilot program on alternate weed control methods over the remainder of the calendar year.

· Continue to research ecological and economical alternatives to synthetic pesticides used in city operations.

· Closely monitor upcoming research into risk factors associated with synthetic pesticides.

· Develop signage indicating where non synthetic pesticides are used.

Jesse T. Quirion
Interim Public Works Director
City of Menlo Park
E: jtquirion_at_(domainremoved)ion_at_(domainremoved)
P: 650-330-6744

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Elizabeth Houck <elhouck_at_(domainremoved)il.com<javascript:_e(%7B%7D,'cvml','elhouck_at_(domainremoved)
Date: Sunday, June 29, 2014
Subject: Fwd: [Beekeepers' Guild] Fwd: Bees on the Brink
To: cmp <city.council_at_(domainremoved)nlopark.org<javascript:_e(%7B%7D,'cvml','city.council_at_(domainremoved)
Most national movements are started on a local level. Ban the use of neonicotinoids in Menlo Park - City Wide; by the City, by residents, by businesses. Be leaders.

Date: Sun, Jun 29, 2014 at 10:17 PM
Subject: [Beekeepers' Guild] Fwd: Bees on the Brink
To: Beekeepers' Guild <sanmateobeeguild_at_(domainremoved)

Begin forwarded message:
Fantastic article explaining the honeybee situation...
Laurel Hopwood, Coordinator, Sierra Club Pollinator Protection Campaign

Bees on the Brink
by Josephine Marcotty, June 29, 2014

The past few decades of farm economics have created a system in which one-third of the food on our plate now relies on just one pollinator - the honeybee. And it's dying.

Steve Ellis, one of some 1,300 commercial beekeepers from across the U.S. who migrate to California each year, along with nearly 2 million hives, for the single largest pollination event in the world. For Ellis and his sometimes partner Jeff Anderson, catastrophe could be just one harvest away.

In the past several decades, the number of crops that depend on bees for pollination has quadrupled, even as the number of hives available to pollinate them has dropped by half. Every winter, beekeepers on average continue to lose a fourth to a third of their hives, raising fears that the gradual decline of these remarkably resilient insects will soon limit the production of foods that Americans now take for granted.

Repercussions of the flowerless landscape
Springtime used to be a time of rebirth. It was the season when beehives grew fat and healthy on dandelions, wildflowers, and the sweet clover and alfalfa that farmers once grew to add fertilizer to the soil. It's what once made Minnesota part of a Midwestern mecca for beekeepers and long one of the top five honey-producing states in the country. But in the space of a few decades, the central Minnesota landscape around Ellis has been transformed into one that has no room for bees.

When he looks out over the edge of the gravel pit where he keeps his hives, Ellis sees what he calls a vast agricultural desert of corn and soybeans - two plants that don't need bees for fertilization. Synthetic fertilizers have replaced the natural ones, farming has become increasingly specialized and now about a third of Minnesota's land - and much of the Midwest - is covered with just those two crops.

Almost all Midwestern crops are now genetically engineered to withstand the herbicide Roundup, so farmers can kill weeds without harming their yields. But the widespread use of herbicides has virtually wiped out the milkweed, clover and wildflowers from Minnesota's vast farming regions. That doesn't include the millions of acres devoted to grass in urban areas, another form of chemically intensive monoculture.

For bees - which need 150 million flowers to make enough honey for one hive to survive the winter - there isn't much left to eat.

What flowers remain are increasingly exposed to a new family of insecticides that, along with corn and soybeans, have exploded across the Midwest and the world: neonicotinoids. They come coated on virtually every seed planted in every major crop across the country - sunflowers, canola, cotton, soybeans and corn.

Over 90 percent of the seed corn available to farmrs comes precoated with neonicotinoids.

Ellis sees it every year in May, when his neighbors crisscross their fields with massive planters that inject the pesticide-coated seeds into the earth. They have to use a talc to keep the seeds from sticking together, and as the hydraulic pressure in the machines forces the seeds into the ground, the contaminated powder escapes and drifts over the land.

But May is also the month when his bees work the blooming willow trees, shrubs and other flowers around the gravel pit, collecting pollen and nectar as they play their part in the seasonal reproduction of plants. And when wind blows the fine powders from corn seeds over the blooming plants around his yard, many of the bees that return to the hive come back and die. The sight of thousands of bees twitching and convulsing in front of their boxes has become a near-annual event for Ellis and other beekeepers in the same predicament.

Since their introduction, neonicotinoids have sparked a revolution in agriculture. Because they are considered far safer than their predecessors, they won fast-track approval by the EPA and are now the most widely used insecticides in the world. Made from a synthetic nicotine, they are a neurotoxin to insects.

But it's their delivery system that makes neonicotinoids truly novel.

As the chemical-coated seed germinates and matures, the insecticide moves into the circulatory system and grows with the plant. As a result, today all major crops - and even many of the geraniums and petunias at retail garden centers - are poisonous to insects, regardless of whether they need to be protected. It's a built-in insurance policy.

Neonicotinoids have become the focus of a national fight that is raging over the fate of bees, largely because of a new and growing body of research showing that even at low doses, the compounds can have what scientists call sublethal effects.

Bees have extraordinary powers of navigation and communication. They fly as far as 5 miles at a stretch - much farther than most wild pollinators. They use the sun and an extraordinary innate sense of direction to find their way home after long foraging expeditions, as well as an intricate "waggle dance" to tell others in the hive where the flowers are.

But when bees are exposed to low doses of neonicotinoids, some scientists say, they falter. Like drunks, they can't find their way home. "They can't remember who they are or where to go," said Vera Krischik, an associate professor at the University of Minnesota who studies insecticides.

In addition, researchers have found that neonicotinoids can undermine bees' immune systems, making them susceptible to diseases carried by parasitic mites, the invasive insect that swept through American hives starting in the 1980s. "It's like they have AIDS," Ellis said.

Without bees, California would have no almonds. Are there enough bees to do the job? "We are close to the tipping point, where the bee industry cannot respond to the needs," Anderson said.

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Received on Mon Jul 07 2014 - 14:20:43 PDT

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