Sunday, August 4, 2013

Dr. Reese Halter: Remarkable Bees Need Our Help In Sierra Madre

Dr. Reese Halter
(Mod: I had heard from our friend Warren Betts recently, which is always a pretty cool thing. Warren is both a Sierra Madre resident and the owner and chief impresario of a rather remarkable company called ZoomWerks, which handles publicity for many of the major movie studios, along with such noted entities as NASA, Google, Microsoft and Apple. Click here and check out his not quite so average resume'. Warren's passion is nature, and in particular the welfare of animals. He was instrumental in Sierra Madre's 4th of July Tai the elephant episode a few years back. Today Warren would like to introduce us to a gentleman named Dr. Reese Halter. Dr. Halter is a broadcaster, conservation biologist and author of a book called The Incomparable Honeybee - link. Dr. Halter is involved in the international effort to save the honey bee, the rapid demise of which is a devastating environmental crisis beyond the comprehension of most folks. At the finish of Dr. Halter's article there is an opportunity to participate in a petition drive and do something to help save honey bees all over the world. Important stuff!)

Remarkable Bees Need our Help in Sierra Madre - Our beautiful city of Sierra Madre is known around the nation as ‘Wistaria City’ for the magnificent 500-foot wisteria vine.  Did you know that it depends upon bees to pollinate its dazzling purple flowers?

Let me tell you what else our solitary-, bumble- and honey-bees provide us, and why these magnificent pollinators are so important to our food chain and our quality of life right here in Sierra Madre:

Bees contribute $44B a year to the U.S. economy pollinating crops like almonds, apples, avocados, blueberries, broccoli, cherries, cranberries, cucumbers, grapes, peaches, plums, tomatoes, lemons, just to name a few; alfalfa and clover for beef and dairy industries; and cotton for our clothes.

Honey is to a bee what electricity is for humans – energy.  One teaspoon of honey weighing 21 grams contains 16 grams of sugar or 60 calories, and it took 12 bees their entire foraging lives, combined flying time of about 6,000 miles, to produce 21 grams of honey.   That is an impressive accomplishment, and many ways, these little pollinators do it all for us.

Honey is a powerful antiseptic and renowned for its antibacterial properties. That’s why some modern bandage companies line their products with diluted traces of honey.

Honey is filled with vitamins and minerals including soluble B1, B2, B6, pantothenic and nicotinic acids, vitamin C as well as high amounts of fat-soluble vitamins E, K, and A.  Honey also provides us with essential minerals: calcium, phosphorus, potassium, iron, copper, manganese, magnesium and sulfur.  It is a powerful agent for both adults and children.

Amazingly, bees make glue for their hives from tree resin, mixing it with enzymes in their mouths. This pungent bee glue is called propolis.  Propolis contains potent antiviral, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and cancer-fighting compounds.  Propolis is packed with efficacious plant metabolites that scavenge the human body to rid free radicals, keeping us healthy.  Propolis is now being trialed as a co-treatment for prostate cancer.

Did you know that honeybees have a memory, they vote, are being trained to count and are helping people as an early detector of disease by sniffing skin and lung cancers, diabetes and tuberculosis?

Frighteningly, something is going very wrong around the globe in our environment: 20,000 species of bees are showing scientists they are in trouble.  Just 20 years ago across America each of our 2.4 million commercial beehives produced about 100 pounds of honey.  Today they each produce almost half that amount.  In part, their natural diverse forage has been drastically reduced or more likely destroyed altogether.   Bees, like to dine, not dissimilarly to people, at smorgasbords.  Monoculture food crops cannot supply bees with enough nutrition.

This much we do know.  Over the past 110 million years, plants and bees have co-evolved; they depend on one another, when bees die en masse and rapidly all-hell-breaks-loose: Global food security is jeopardized.   Researchers affiliated with the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory at Crested Butte, Colorado recently discovered by removing just one species of bumblebee that one third fewer seeds were produced in Rocky Mountain subalpine wildflowers.

The biggest threat to our bees is in the hands of humans, toxic chemicals.   There’s one class of pesticides known as neonicotinoids with about 1,000 kinds available, globally.  When honeybees are exposed to as little as four billionths of a gram of neonicotinoids they suffer irreparable poisoning.   Many cities around the world today have started to ban the use of these dangerous pesticides in order to help the honeybees and cleanse the environment from toxins.    Not only do pesticides kill our much needed pollinators, bees, butterflies, even birds, but pesticides are a deadly poison for children and adults.

The American Medical Association reports a higher rate of human cancers each year directly related to exposure from various pesticides around the home and office.

This year we should consider ways to make Sierra Madre safer for our bees and all our pollinators.   Organic gardening is one wonderful way to introduce a healthy environment to our children and to our community.  If you find that your yard is buzzing with bees, enjoy them!  Do everything you can to nurture them.

Two weeks ago, the European Health & Safety Authority banned a fourth neonicotinoid, Fipronil (link). Last week, 36,000 solitary bees were found dead in all 12 nesting boxes on a farm in Niestetal, Germany; poisoned pollen has been implicated (link). A couple weeks ago, 37 million honeybees died in 600 hives on an organic honey farm in Elmwood, Canada just after corn seed coated in neonicotinoid's was planted (link). A few weeks before that, 55 American linden or ‘bee trees’ were sprayed with a neonicotinoid (Safari) and 50,000 bumblebees perished in Wilsonville, Oregon (link).

In order to keep the bees buzzing it is clearly time to stop pesticides that are known to kill them. If the bees die, we die.

We need The Save America’s Pollinator Act of 2013. I signed the petition and encourage you to do so as well!

Click here to access the petition and add your name.


  1. Concerned ResidentAugust 4, 2013 at 8:21 AM

    I signed!

  2. Thank you for posting this important message, John.
    Please, everyone reading this, check out this web page. It's very alarming.
    We must take action on this. Other countries are very concerned. Sadly, due to politicians controlled by large corporations like Monsanto, they are not protecting the bees or us! They are making profits from lobbyists. None of the mainstream media on TV addresses this crucial issue.

    1. Where does Judy Chu stand on this issue?

    2. Enough signatures on the petition, enough support for the Act, and Judy will get in front of the line and it'll turn out that she's been for it all along.

  3. When you sign the petition you get an automated response from an Earl Blumenauer. This is very professionally done.

  4. I signed, and I sent out the link to others.

  5. The signature gathering is moving aong well. Really it's a no-brainer.

  6. Maybe instead of the slogan Better Living Through Chemistry, it ought to be
    Faster Dying Through Chemistry.

    1. The extremely high price of agricultural convenience.

    2. Remember when the government banned DDT to save the American Eagle? Now we need to do the same thing for bees. Sign the petition, Tattlers!

  7. Thanks to Dr. Halter for his critically important work.

    1. What is clearer to me all the time is the interconnectedness of planetary systems. Damage one and there's a ripple effect. The loss of bees would have a huge impact.

  8. Haagen-Dazs has a campaign also, called Honey, please don't go.

    1. Where is Ben and Jerry?

    2. Ben and Jerry is owned by Unilever, so where do you think they are on this?

    3. Ahhhhhhh!!! Say it ain't so!!!

    4. Thank God we still have Mother Moo.

    5. Does Jerry Garcia know? Wherever he might be?

    6. Get ready:
      Kelloggs owns Bear Naked, Gardenburger, Kashi, Morningstar Farms.
      Coca-Cola owns Honest Tea, Odwalla.
      Dean Foods owns Horizon Organic, Silk, White Wave.
      General Mills owns Casacadian Farms, Larabar, Muir Glen.

      All of these companies contributed to defeat GMO labeling.

    7. It is enough to drive you to eat Twinkies and wash them down with a can of Miller Lite.

  9. This is a crisis and it doesn't matter what side of the political spectrum you are on, or what your stance about environmental issues is (Big brother in the garden, or regulate up the wazoo). The bees are being killed at extinction rates if the pesticides are not stopped. It's a problem we know how to fix.

  10. Saνеd аs a favοrіte, Ι really lіke yοur blog!

  11. I was surprised to learn that Clorox bought Burt's Bees. Still a good product, but I think the quality slipped a bit. Probably some small cost saving maneuver - a little less real bees wax in the recipes or something.

    1. Well that must put Clorox in a dicey position on the issue of bees and pesticides.

    2. They can just replace the bee part of the product with some chemical. And then jack up the price because the natural ingredients are just so rare.

  12. And honey never goes bad.

    1. A lot of honey is not real honey anymore

  13. From Natural Society website:

    List of Crop Plants Pollinated by Bees

    While we don’t need bees to pollinate every single crop, here is just a brief list of some of the foods we would lose if all our bees continue to perish:
    •Kiwi Fruit
    •Rose Hips
    •Black and Red Currants
    •Prickly Pear
    •Passion Fruit
    •Lima Beans
    •Kidney Beans
    •Adzuki Beans
    •Green Beans
    •Orchid Plants
    •Custard Apples
    •Acerola – used in Vitamin C supplements
    •Macadamia Nuts
    •Sunflower Oil
    •Goa beans
    •Palm Oil
    •Star Apples
    •Brazil Nuts
    • Beets
    •Mustard Seed
    •Brussels Sprouts
    •Bok Choy (Chinese Cabbage)
    •Congo Beans
    •Sword beans
    •Chili peppers, red peppers, bell peppers, green peppers
    •Black Eyed Peas

    If one of your favorites is on this list, you should consider becoming a bee activist.

    Read more:
    Follow us: @naturalsociety on Twitter | NaturalSociety on Facebook

    It's no surprise that President Putin of Russia told the U.S. they had better stop supporting these evil corporations that are killing the bees. He said, the U.S. will destroy the world's food supply!
    Obama protects Monsanto by signing a bill exempting them from any lawsuits due to their poisons.
    If that doesn't shock you all, don't know what will.

  14. Read Rachael Carson's "Silent Spring". It may be the most terrifying scenario happening to the human race and she saw it comming, and warned us about it 50 years age. The current dying of the bee population is like the "canary in the mine". and a harbinger of things to come.

  15. This is an amazing article! Thank you John Crawford in all your wisdom for publishing it. I was wondering when Sierra Madre would get around to this world crisis which is already impacting food and prices at the local markets.

    - Elizza Helen

  16. This is an excellent article! What's extraordinary is that, when it comes to the relationship between bees and environmental health thus HUMAN health, the data is in and it's staring us in the face, nay, it's screaming at us, and yet our politicians are dragging their feet. Please sign the petition. Thank you Dr. Halter and Sierra Madre Tattler.

    Brian B.

  17. And yet cities through out the SGV foothills pay to have wild bees exterminated?

    Rather than allow a bee enthusiasts to collect them to become productive in a wooden hive box.

    1. That is alarming! We should be leading campaigns against cities that do that to have it immediately stopped! I'm stunned and shocked that people in government are so illiterate scientifically! You are right bee farmers and other concerned citizens should be allowed to relocate the bees. Killing them is UNACCEPTABLE.

  18. A local bee keeper has had hives above Sierra Madre in the Angeles National Forest near Chantry Flat and there have bee hives on LA Co Flood property in our city limits in the past. I had a wild hive in a tree on my canyon property a few years ago and Tree Comissioners see bees in hollow trees from time to time and make no broad mention of it. Just keep a careful watch.

  19. I'm thrilled this article got posted today. I have been so worried about the bees with all the bad news. It only takes people becoming aware to reverse a negative trend. I hope people in Sierra Madre will read this and get involved. I sure will! I for one have stopped using toxic pesticides around my home. I have found after 10 years I don't need to intervene with nature as nature governs itself pretty much. And I don't have pests!

    I love both honey bees and bumble bees and the least thing i want to do is hurt them. This is a very intelligent piece and i hope the Tattler will do more!

    Also, people considering discontinuing using nasty pesticides around their home might be glad to know that the American Cancer Society said removing pesticides from your home protect both you and your children from future cancers. Long term human exposure to these deadly chemicals is not good!