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Keep the Hives Alive Tour kicks off

The campaign, which takes the form of various nationwide events and on social media, has been set-up by a combination of beekeepers, farmers, farm workers, scientists and advocates. Much of the campaign is about the use of pesticides on farms which are inadvertently affecting bee populations. The aspect of working with farmers is key to the campaign, as the official Keep The Hives Alive (@KeepHivesAlive) group tweeted: “We need a paradigm shift” says @BugLundgren. @BlueDasherFarm working with farmers on the ground 2 #keephivesalive.”

The global decline of bees is an issue of great importance. Bees pollinate over one-third of the world’s food crops; thus the rate of die-offs of bee colonies is starting to cause ecological problems which impact the availability of food. There are several reasons for this; however, the misuse and over-use of pesticides is a major factor. The impact of this is considerable because bees are pollinators in the human food chain: without bees to spread pollen from the male parts of plants to the female parts, fruit may not form.

Events are to take place in South Dakota, Minnesota, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina, leading into U.S. National Pollinator Week, which runs between June 13-23 in Washington, D.C. The campaign is supported by consumer rights group

The main Washington event includes a Congressional briefing, followed a rally. There will also be a lobby of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency with respect to toxic pesticides and seeking to minimize the usage of chemicals known to harm bee colonies.

These events will be supported by other publicity drives. For example, James Cook, a Minnesota beekeeper who is employed at the Old Mill Honey Company, is to drive a bee truck between each stop. The truck carries a display depicting 2.64 million dead bees. This aims to highlight beekeeper losses. U.S. beekeepers are reportedly experiencing hive losses of 40 percent or more, and this carries a huge economic burden.

In a statement, Cook explained the background to his participation: “I am doing this because I stood in a holding yard my first year beekeeping and witnessed a massive bee die as a result of seed treated corn being planted. 1500 hives that spring had at least 50 percent of their adult bees die in front of me.”

Cook and other campaigners are seeking sustainable alternatives for agriculture. They highlight not only the threat to bees but to other wildlife, such as bees, bats, birds, butterflies, and mammals, each affected by the use of certain pesticides.

In support, environmentalist Jan (@TenajMe) tweeted: “Countries, business are like Bee Hives. Neglect the people who keep the hive alive, The Queen Bee dies.”

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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