Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

"In the five years since I started keeping bees, I've seen many hives killed by pesticides," said James Cook, a beekeeper who drove the truck filled with dead bees from Sacramento, Calif., to Washington, D.C. (Photo: U.S. Geological Survey/flickr/cc)

Demanding Ban on Deadly Pesticides, Advocates Drop Millions of Dead Bees on EPA Doorstep

'What's happening today to pollinators is no different than what happened 50 years ago with the collapse of the bald eagle due to the use of DDT'

Nika Knight Beauchamp

Advocating for a ban on toxic pesticides that have led to massive bee die-offs nationwide, a truck filled with millions of the dead pollinators has trundled across the country to reach its final destination on Wednesday afternoon: the front steps of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) headquarters in Washington, D.C.

"If we stop keeping bees, who's going to pollinate your fruits and vegetables? This can't go on."
—Roger Williams,
Central Maryland Beekeepers Association

The truck's arrival at EPA headquarters heralds a rally in which environmental groups, beekeepers, organic food advocates and others will "deliver over 4 million signatures urging an immediate ban on bee-killing pesticides" to the agency, writes the conservation group Friends of the Earth.

"Bees pollinate most of the world’s most common crops, including summer favorites like peaches and watermelon," said Environment America in a press statement. "But over 40 percent of U.S. honeybee hives die each year, costing the farming and beekeeping industry more than $2 billion annually."

As Scott Nash, CEO of Mom's Organic, said in a statement, "What's happening today to pollinators is no different than what happened 50 years ago with the collapse of the osprey, bald eagle, and other bird and aquatic animal populations due to the use of DDT. If we allow the chemical agribusiness industry to continue these short-sighted practices, food costs will increase as food supplies diminish."

"In the five years since I started keeping bees, I've seen many hives killed by pesticides," added James Cook, a Minnesota-based beekeeper who has been driving the truck across the country since last Monday. "If some fundamental things don't change, it's going to be really hard for beekeepers to adapt to the environment around us."

As the crisis stretches on, studies continue to show that the so-called neonicotinoid class of pesticides, or neonics, are a major contributing factor to bee population decline, as Common Dreams has reported. (Pesticide giants have lobbied heavily against any regulations of their multi-billion dollar industry.)

And despite "a process to assess four types of neonics and their impacts on pollinators" the EPA launched a year ago, and an agency study that in January confirmed the link between one variety of neonics and widespread bee deaths, further agency assessments of what critics describe as bee-toxic pesticides—and in turn, action—are still outstanding.

Yet the bees—and their keepers—don't have any time to lose.

"We have so many losses it's worse than break-even. It is getting harder and harder to keep bees and make a living," said Roger Williams, president of the Central Maryland Beekeepers Association. "And if we stop keeping bees, who's going to pollinate your fruits and vegetables? This can't go on."

Rally participants documented the event on Twitter under the hashtag #keepthehivesalive:


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'Let's Pass Medicare for All,' Says Jayapal as Survey Spotlights Failures of For-Profit System

"When the 'all-time low' of uninsured Americans is still 26 MILLION, something needs to change," said Rep. Pramila Jayapal.

Julia Conley ·


Environmental Defender Killed Every Two Days Over Last Decade, Report Finds

"All over the world, Indigenous peoples and environmental defenders risk their lives for the fight against climate change and biodiversity loss," said the head of Global Witness.

Brett Wilkins ·


Trailing Lula in Polls, Bolsonaro's Party Peddles 'Fabricated' Attack on Brazilian Voting System

"They're afraid they're going to lose," said one political scientist. "They're trying to create some kind of excuse for Bolsonaro supporters on why."

Julia Conley ·


'Incredible Victory': California Gov. Newsom Signs Farmworker Unionization Bill Into Law

"This is your victory," UFW president Teresa Romero told those who led and supported the fight for free and fair union elections.

Kenny Stancil ·


Climate Scientist Demands 'War Crimes' Charges for Whoever Ordered Pipeline Sabotage

The call from Stanford University climate scientist Rob Jackson came as a fourth Nord Stream leak was discovered, intensifying fears of an unprecedented release of planet-heating methane emissions.

Jake Johnson ·

Common Dreams Logo