Easy as Hey-Bee-See

"If you want to gather honey, don't kick over the beehive."
- Dale Carnegie

This past weekend, I visited my daughter Jennifer in Sag Harbor, New York. Jen took me to a local farmer's market by the waterfront at which local merchants sold the foods they harvested.

I got into a conversation with Mary Woltz, a local beekeeper. I told her that I do not eat honey because I do not consider it a vegan product. My reason is this: most beekeepers take the bee's honey, then substitute sugar syrup or high fructose corn syrup for the bees to survive the winter. I believe that this protocol weakens a bee's immune system, and many do not survive the winter months due to the death of their hives.

Experts call beehive death colony collapse disorder. In 2008, 32 percent of beehives were lost. In 2009, 36 percent of beehives perished.

Mary informed me that her bees were organic. They gather pollen from organically grown flowers in nearby fields. Bees usually do not fly more than a mile from their homes. She also abhors the practice of supplementing a bee's diet with anything other than the natural honey they produce. She shares their honey, but has perfected her craft so that her hive survival rate is over 95 percent.

Last week, I read a book which was written in 2008 called A SPRING WITHOUT BEES. The author makes a strong case for the reason that bees are disappearing. He blames it on a widely used chemical pesticide called Imidacloprid.

Two years before the publication of this book, Notmilk blamed the problem of disappearing honey bees on that very same chemical, Imidacloprid.

More than four years ago, Notmilk reported:

Where Have all the Honey Bees Gone?

(The amazing story of dairy industry culpability)

I live in New Jersey, America's Garden State. Believe it or not, we have a state insect, the honey bee. Honey bees pollinate crops. It's actually a big business. Pollinators travel America, leasing their bees to crop growers. Beekeepers keep the honey. During World War II, there were over 6 million commercial beehives in America. By the mid-1980s, that number had dropped to 4 million. Today, there are 2.5 million remaining. America's honey bees are disappearing, and those who best know bees have a number of theories, but no one conclusive reason. The one universally accepted fact is that bees are in trouble.

Could an aspirin manufacturer be the cause of the bee's demise? The Bayer Aspirin Company may be giving our environment an incurable migraine headache.

My first hint came from an ad in the April 10, 2006 issue of Hoard's Dairyman. There, on page 270, a full color advertisement proclaims:

"Bayer supplies the technology to fix the milking machine on the right."

On the right side of the ad is an enlarged photo of a most grotesque fly with large red eyes and appendages containing end-to-end cactus-like spurs.

In smaller text, Bayer informs prospective customers:

"Bayer understands how much profit flies suck out of your entire operation. That's why we developed QuickBayt Pour-On insecticide...put the high-tech tools from Bayer to work." (Bayer is owned by the IG Farben Company, and no, I will not be getting into that controversy here...)

I began to search the Internet for the secret ingredients to Bayer's miracle fly solution. Gobs and gobs of this high-tech gunk are slathered onto dairy cow's bodies. What's in QuickBayt that makes life so very dangerous for the honey bee?


Imidacloprid is a widely used insecticide that has environmentalists extremely concerned. Apparently, scientists have known for many years the impact that imidacloprid has on wildlife. Here are some of the recognized hazards of using imidacloprid:

Imidacloprid has raised concerns because of its possible impact on bee is also acutely toxic to earthworms...

Imidacloprid has raised concerns because it causes eggshell thinning in endangered bird is highly toxic to sparrows, quails, canaries, and pigeons...

Imidacloprid can be toxic to humans, causing epileptic seizures, diarrhea, and lack of coordination...

Imidacloprid is extremely toxic at low concentrations to some species of aquatic fish and crustaceans...

Can food be contaminated with imidacloprid? You tell me whether this is comedy or tragedy at work. Neither the United States Department of Agriculture nor the Food and Drug Administration includes imidacloprid in their food monitoring programs.

Two European studies have shown that vegetables tested with imidacloprid were contaminated, one week after exposure.

It seems clear that imidacloprid use on dairy farms should be closely monitored by regulatory agencies. The Bayer Company is making lots of money on this drug, but the true cost might become America's newest headache. My advice to FDA and USDA regulators who refuse to regulate: Take two imidacloprids and call me in the morning.

Robert Cohen

Fair Use Notice and Disclaimer
Send questions or comments about this web site to Ann Berlin,