Why would you risk putting something out there that could kill the bees that you need -Bill Rhodes

Open Letter to American Beekeepers

Dear Beekeepers,

Please see attached an Open Letter to American Beekeepers which we have put together after the debacle of the White House Task Force Report on Bee and Pollinator Health, which recommends no substantive action, on the causal role which pesticides have played in the mass-deaths of bee colonies and pollinators.We have taken this initiative very reluctantly, in response to the deafening silence on the part of the major beekeeping organisations, in contrast to widespread condemnation of the report by leading environmental NGOs.

The central criticism is that the White House Task Force has completely ignored the central role which pesticides have played in the death of over 10 million American bee colonies since 2003. Current annual colony losses are running at 40% plus, which is unsustainable.  Some beekeepers have lost up to 90% of their colonies and many have gone out of business. Despite millions of dollars being spent by EPA, the USDA and the US Govt, little real progress has been made on this catastrophic extermination of bees and wildlife since 2003; because any focus on pesticides remains officially taboo.

The letter is appended below in three formats for distribution to your members and is also included within the text of this email.

We would be grateful if you would share this with the widest possible readership, even if you do not endorse the sentiments; it deserves wide debate, whether you are ‘for’ or ‘against’ the spirit of the message. If you can place the document on your website, please do so.

There is no need to respond to us personally in respect of this, (unless you wish to), but please make your views forcefully known to the national beekeeping organisations, the EPA, the USDA, your Congressional representatives and the press and media.

Failure to act will be taken as ‘consent’ by the pesticide lobbyists and the EPA, who have successfully hijacked the White House Task Force to produce this ‘White House Whitewash’ on bees and pesticides.


Graham White – Beekeeper, Scotland
Tom Theobald – Beekeeper, Niwot, Colorado
Dr Henk Tennekes, Consultant Toxicologist, Netherlands.

Open Letter to American Beekeepers

The Presidential Task Force Report on Bee and Pollinator Health has been widely condemned for failing to address the primary cause of bee-deaths in America: pesticides. Environmental NGO’s have strongly criticised the Task Force Report including: PANNA, Beyond Pesticides, Center for Food Safety, Friends of the Earth, National Resources Defense Council and EcoWatch  [please read articles in footnote 1].

The central criticism is that this report gives pesticides a free pass in relation to bee colony deaths.

It is largely ‘Greenwash’ to cover up the issue of mass bee deaths and delay action; a nice piece of window dressing designed to give the illusion that ‘something is being done’, when in truth, nothing substantial is being done at all.

In contrast to the reaction of the NGOs, there has been a deafening silence from the national beekeeping organisations; this suggests their complete submission to the corporations which set up and dominated the Task Force: Bayer, Syngenta and Monsanto.

Independent scientists overwhelmingly blame just one factor for millions of bee colony deaths: the prophylactic use of neonicotinoid seed-dressings, (along with fungicides, herbicides and growth regulators), on over 200 million acres of American crops.  There is no doubt that the primary objective of those who ran this Task Force, was to defend the market freedom and profitability of their pesticides at all costs. In order to justify this corporate greed, they rejected a mountain of scientific evidence (more than 800 peer-reviewed papers), which confirm neonicotinoids as the primary factor in global bee decline. They also dismissed the eye-witness accounts of some of America’s most eminent beekeepers, who ascribe the loss of thousands of their colonies, to the lethal cocktail of pesticides which saturates the farming landscape.

This compound is highly toxic to honey bees, persistent in soil, and has high leaching potential_ Dr Henk Tennekes

Everything else on the Task Force Agenda was just ‘smoke and mirrors’, to divert attention from the pesticide companies’ real objectives, namely to:

  • Absolve pesticides of all responsibility for global bee deaths;
  • Protect neonicotinoids from any threat of regulatory interference
  • Preserve the market dominance of neonicotinoids and their 2.4 billion dollar annual profits.

‘The Silence of the Beekeepers

However, if the pesticide interests were to successfully hijack the Pollinator Task Force, they had to co-opt, or coerce American beekeepers, into signing-off on their ‘pesticide-protection agenda’.  If the beekeepers refused to sign, the whole ‘pollinator protection illusion’ would collapse like a house of cards. The pesticide companies could only succeed by gagging the beekeepers with their own report.  It is not known how they manipulated the beekeepers into this self-censorship; but the fact that it was done, is plain to see.

The beekeepers representatives agreed to ignore the central role of pesticides in bee colony deaths. Attention was diverted to peripheral issues, like varroa mites and lack of wild flowers; but pesticides barely got a mention. The only ‘action’ the Task Force agreed to take on pesticides was to have“better messaging”; a meaningless phrase from the corporate playbook.  Any proposal for stricter regulation of pesticides was taboo; any idea that the EPA might copy the European restriction on neonicotinoids was simply laughable.

The EPA made vague promises about ‘re-assessment’ of neonics, in a couple of years; but any immediate action was simply out of the question. “Business as usual was the corporate objective; “carry on poisoning was the slogan. Diversionary and delaying tactics were adopted: ‘plant more flowers’ and fund even more ‘diversionary researchinto the alleged mystery of millions of dead bee colonies.

Faced with the apparent terminal decline of American beekeeping, with 30-40% losses annually, the Presidential Task Force offered nothing but a band-aid, and some flowers for the funeral.

Why would beekeepers co-operate in their own destruction?

Unless the beekeepers who signed this agenda were fast asleep during the discussions, they must have realised they were gifting the EPA and the pesticide companies ‘free license’ to carpet-bomb America with billions of pounds more pesticides, for decades to come.

Why would you risk putting something out there that could kill the bees that you need? It doesn't make sense. A first grader wouldn't do it."- Bill Rhodes

By signing-off on the Task Force Report:

  • They ignored the European Union’s 2013 ban of the major neonicotinoids; along with hundreds of peer-reviewed Science studies, on which that ban was based.
  • They swallowed the EPA’s ‘Big Lie’: that 200 million acres of neonicotinoid treated crops do not even qualify as ‘pesticide use’ and are not even mentioned in the pesticide statistics.
  • They bought the official story of ‘multifactorial causes’, which ascribes bee deaths to: varroa mites, viruses, fungal and bacterial diseases. These factors all contribute of course; but the single factor which opens the door to the invasion of these pathogens, is the crippling of the bees’ immune system by neonicotinoids. ‘Multifactorial cause of bee deaths’,  is just another industry-generated smokescreen to hide ‘the elephant in the room’; pesticides!
  • They agreed to unrestricted use of the currently licensed neonicotinoids.
  • They agreed to fund USDA scientists to carry out even more ‘diversionary research’ on the same dead-end topics, which have yielded zero improvement in the last 15 years.
  • They opted for Voluntary State Pollinator Plans rather than the mandatory labeling: “do not apply during bloom .

Questions That Demand An Answer

  1. Why have the American Beekeeping Federation and the American Honey Producers Association agreed to ignore the truth: that neonicotinoids and other pesticides are the primary cause of mass bee deaths?
  1. Why did they fail to raise any objection, when the Task Force declared that any discussion of the link between neonicotinoids and bee-deaths was simply ‘taboo’? Did they not understand what was at stake here?  Were they too naive or too timid, to object?
  1. Were they persuaded, or simply coerced, into betraying their own members interests?

These questions are largely academic; when they signed-off on this report, they surrendered the future of American Beekeeping into the tender care of: the EPA, the Pesticide Corporations and Croplife.

Fight or Surrender?

American beekeeping stands at a crossroads: one road leads to a pesticide-drenched future, mapped out in this Task Force Report. If the beekeepers swallow this without a fight, they condemn themselves and their industry to an increasingly toxic decline, ruled over by the pesticide companies and the ethically corrupt EPA.

The alternative road is the path of public and political resistance. It is true that this would involve many battles, but this is the only possible route that could lead to a healthy future for American beekeeping.  If beekeepers choose to resist, they would receive the support of millions of ordinary Americans, who understand what is at stake.  The choice is simple: campaign now for bee-friendly farming and a pesticide-free environment, or carry on trying to pollinate crops in a pesticide-drenched landscape that is utterly toxic to bees.

A Toxic Future for Beekeeping?

If American beekeepers accept this report, they will suffer:

  • The death of millions more bee colonies every year
  • The collapse of many more beekeeper businesses
  • Rising neonicotinoid pollution of streams, rivers, groundwater and wells
  • Accelerating decline of American wildlife: bees, butterflies, soil-organisms and birds.

Moreover, the Pesticide Driven Agenda, at the heart of this Report, will be seen by the public as the ‘agreed agenda of American Beekeeping.  As a result, beekeepers will find it even harder to raise objection to any use of new systemic pesticides. They will be forced to accept the dictates of the EPA and the pesticide companies; absorb the financial loss of 30 to 40% of your colonies each year, or leave the business.

Furthermore, if beekeepers really adopt this agenda as their own:

  • They may be forced to publicly oppose  the environmental NGOs,  who will undoubtedly continue to campaign for a ban on neonicotinoids.  Beekeepers will have no choice but to ‘defend’ this ‘pesticide-driven agenda as their own, whenever neonicotinoids are debated in the media.
  • They will have betrayed the 20 year struggle of their sister organisations in Germany, France, Italy and other countries, who fought many battles to achieve the European ban on neonics

We framed this letter in the hope of getting beekeepers to reconsider their involvement in this Task Force Report, and to foster debate on a new strategy.  The current strategy of ABF and AHPA seems to consist of unconditional surrender to the EPA and the pesticide companies.

It is vital that American beekeepers reject this Task Force Report and the ‘pesticide protection agenda’ which their representatives have inexplicably signed-up to.  Please speak out now! Take action yourselves.  If beekeepers fail to reject this Report, their silence will be taken as ‘consent’ to the pesticide-driven agenda at its heart.

Contact the leadership of your beekeeping organisations: local, regional and national.

Contact the EPA and USDA; let them know how you feel about the ‘Greenwash’ served up in this report.

Contact your Congressional representative regarding this ‘White House Whitewash’ on bee and pollinator deaths.

This is the last chance to demand real reform of the pesticide based agriculture, that the EPA, the USDA and the pesticide companies have imposed on the American landscape and on American beekeeping.


Graham White, Beekeeper, Scotland, UK

Tom Theobald, Beekeeper, Niwot, Colorado

Dr Henk Tennekes, Consultant Toxicologist, Netherlands


Footnote 1: Published Criticisms of the White House PollinatorTask Force Report:

Center for Food Safety:


National Resources Defense Council: 


Beyond Pesticides




Pesticide Action Network North America:


National Public Radio:


Listen To The Interview

In this special series called “The Neonicotinoid View”, hosts, June Stoyer and Colorado beekeeper, Tom Theobald will  continue the discussion along with bee health advocate, Graham White, about this year’s repetitive announcement from the White House to protect bees and review the efforts that have been made to raise awareness about neonicotinoids over the last decade. To listen to the interview, please press play on the video.

32 thoughts on “Open Letter to American Beekeepers

  1. I constantly am telling people that we have a huge election coming up. Although we have a lame duck in office we can still put the pressure on for the WH to take action. The people running need to know this is something that is a huge issue for America as well as the rest of the world. They need to do something. When the bees are gone, it won’t be long before we’re next!

  2. I was wondering what the beekeeping community was waiting for to do something. Bravo, fellas! Give ’em Hell!

  3. My neighbor is a beekeeper and has been dealing with losses for years. It isn’t a full time job for him but it is still an expense. I can’t imagine how full time guys are dealing with the financial losses. It isn’t like these are disposable Sea Monkeys that you can grow in a petri dish. These are animals that have to be cared for. On a larger scale, if this were another kind of farm animal, I am sure the media would drive up the price of food due to the shortages. How come honey is still so cheap? Why don’t the beekeepers ban together and go on strike or do something collectively to stand up to these bullies? Why is it only two beekeepers and one scientist? The one guy isn’t even American but he gives a damn enough to do something. It makes you wonder what kind of stuff is going on behind the scenes to keep an entire industry silent.

  4. This letter is addressed to commercial beekeepers whose livelihoods are at stake if they do not heed the warning and call to action outlined in it. Honeybees have a human constituency in the form of commercial as well as backyard beekeepers. The situation is just as grave–if not more so–for native, non-managed pollinators which include bumblebees, solitary bees, hoverflies, butterflies, and even mammalian pollinators such as bats. All are under severe threat as a result of the nearly ubiquitous, unnecessary, prophylactic use of neonics and other classes of toxic chemical pesticides. These creatures have little-to-no human constituency beyond the relatively few scientists who specialize in their study. Birds, especially insectivorous birds, and the aquatic invertebrates that are now known to be highly susceptible to the direct or indirect, cumulative food chain effects of these overwhelmingly toxic chemicals DO (or should) have human constituencies that appear to be not-yet-fully tapped. This letter should also be going to bird-watching organizations as well as to commercial and sport fishery organizations. There is good precedent for targeting these groups. Trout Unlimited, for example, has been a major constitutency for wildlife habitat preservation in Colorado. And what about the Audubon Society? The thousands and thousands of avid bird watchers who put out bird feeders and who religiously convene to compile lifetime bird count lists, annual bird counts and the like need to have fires lit under them to get active on toxic chemical pesticide issues or there will soon be no more birds to feed and no more birds to count. The same goes for gardening magazines. Many gardening magazines on both sides of the Atlantic with large circulations are still nearly devoid of articles that provide educational, practical and advertising resources that would help their readers make crucial changes in the way they do tree and lawn care.

  5. Bee Safe Boulder (www.beesafeboulder.com) endorses this important citizen action to raise awareness on all levels about the environmental disaster being wreaked upon us by pesticide makers and applicators, and allowed by government agencies that stand by as this happens. Raising grassroots awareness through direct personal interaction and education, Bee Safe Boulder is working to save the bees, one neighborhood at a time, through community, communication and collaboration. Thanks for spreading the word, Organic View!

  6. Think about it:
    – numerous cases of reported bee poisonings with neonicotinoids implicated
    – international evidence – not just from Europe, but also Canada, Australia, Japan.
    – how credible is the supposition that chemicals which can kill termite colonies of millions, and keep a building free from infestation for some years (google Premise 200 SC), are nevertheless not toxic for bees (especially when the patents for these products list vespa (wasp) species (direclty related to bees) and Lepidoptera species (moths, butterflies)? Please remember, that to include bees on a patent would make these chemicals illegal. But this does not mean the regulatory tests for neonics were suitable – actually, EFSA investigation reveals they really were not.

    If beekepers who pose as ‘neutral’ or ‘scientific’ claim neonics are not a problem, please compare their evidence and theory with that of 800+ international, peer-reviewed scientific papers, a UK government enquiry, an in-depth European assessment, the conclusions of NGOs, plus the experience of many beekpeers across the globe, including the former president of the Australian Crop Pollinators Association.

    Please act.

  7. I find this letter offensive, accusatory, and highly unsubstantiated. It stinks of politics and I hope beekeepers actually read the report and see what our government is trying to do to help the pollinators in our country.


    As a beekeeper I find this type of abusive language unacceptable and I reject any association with the blatant attempt at fear tactics that are written here.

    Read the report and speak for yourself, don’t let this letter speak for you.

    • Honeybees are being poisoned by these systemic pesticides and your government wants you to plant more flowers. If you are a real beekeeper you should find that offensive!

    • Are you a beekeeper or are you being paid by Bayer and Monsanto to say you are? What is the name of your company if you are such a knowledgeable beekeeper? I bet your income comes from the blood money you took to campaign for these toxic chemicals to remain on the market.

  8. The taskforce was never high jacked, it was designed from the beginning to pacify the ignorant and protect the sales of these nerve poisons.

  9. I fully agree that neonics are a major problem for our ecosystem. I am supportive of us trying to eliminate the use of neonics. I find no fault with pointing out the fact the report focuses on other areas. What I find offensive is the childish accusations of corporate “manipulation”. If such accusation are made I would expect hard evidence to prove such manipulation. Without any proof this letter is just a conspiracy theory about corporations running our government, designed to prey on the ignorant who are looking for an excuse to blame the government for our troubles.

    The fact is that the government report makes reasonable suggestions that WILL HELP our pollinators. Just because it wasn’t the sweeping reform we were hoping for doesn’t give one the right to make unsupported statements of conspiracies. Letters with this type of language is more detrimental to a cause than good. Let’s try and act like adults instead of an overreacting teenagers who didn’t get their way.

    • How is scientific research that is independently conducted and peer reviewed conspiracy? You comments are clearly right out of industry’s playbook. Anyone with common sense knows that if it is peer reviewed and published, it is good science. Dr Tennekes is a hero and his work speaks for itself. Have you read the research? I have.

    • “What I find offensive is the childish accusations of corporate “manipulation”. “ Bayer and Syngenta make billions off these systemic pesticides you don’t think there is any corporate manipulation going on? Who is thinking childish here?

  10. The colonies that are collapsing have enough honey and pollen, they are not starving they are being poisoned! How does planting more flowers around Neonicotinoid contaminated farm land going to help? It won’t! Not only this wasn’t sweeping reform it was deliberately designed to go in the wrong direction. I would love to know who these individuals were that made up this so called pollinator task force.

    • It’s clearly stated in the presidents memo who is to be apart of this task force.

      Did anybody actually read the memo, report, and recommendations or are you all just drinking the koolaid from this website???

      Section 1. Establishing the Pollinator Health Task Force. There is hereby established the Pollinator Health Task Force (Task Force), to be co-chaired by the Secretary of Agriculture and the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. In addition to the Co-Chairs, the Task Force shall also include the heads, or their designated representatives, from:
      (a) the Department of State;
      (b) the Department of Defense;
      (c) the Department of the Interior;
      (d) the Department of Housing and Urban Development;
      (e) the Department of Transportation;
      (f) the Department of Energy;
      (g) the Department of Education;
      (h) the Council on Environmental Quality;
      (i) the Domestic Policy Council;
      (j) the General Services Administration;
      (k) the National Science Foundation;
      (l) the National Security Council Staff;
      (m) the Office of Management and Budget;
      (n) the Office of Science and Technology Policy; and
      (o) such executive departments, agencies, and offices as the Co-Chairs may designate.

      • I am more interested in the individual’s names to get an idea of their qualifications not their departments!

        • Have you contacted any of these departments to ask them who was specifically involved? Have you contacted any of your Reps, Senators, or other government officials and asked them? Have you made any effort at all to research this or would prefer to be spoon fed like a child? Instead of making unsupported accusations you need to get involved people. Start asking these people directly why they wrote the report they did. Ask them why they made the recommendations they did. If you have actual evidence of deliberate misdirection you should show it. Stop with the innuendo and act like respectful beekeepers.

          • Bill, has “E.S” contacted any of these reps? No! Of course not! When you get paid to promote propaganda, you are going to cite weak, ambiguous points. Clearly, he does not have his facts together.

          • You got that right Clinton, what you have here is a paid shill disguised as a beekeeper trying to convince everyone that insecticides don’t kill beneficial insects and even pretends to take offence that someone would suggest such a thing!

          • You are both way off base and what you are doing is committing libel. You have zero proof of any of the written defamatory statements you make.

          • Based on your comment Bill, I guess you probably have a hard time with reading the English language. I’ve already stated my opposition to the use of neonics, in fact I support the removal of them, see my comments on June 22, at 10:31 am. Are blatantly trying to ignore what I have to say, don’t understand what I’m trying to say, or perhaps are you what you claim I am, a “paid shill” but for some anti-government extremist group?

            Either way I’ve made my position very clear that I don’t take issue with trying eliminate these dangerous chemicals in our world. I take issue with the language of this childishly written letter.

  11. Beekeepers have a choice to do something or not. If they choose to protect their livelihood, then so be it. If not, they will be out of business soon enough. How tragic!

  12. To quote E.S., “I guess you probably have a hard time with reading the English language.”

    You accuse Bill of not knowing how to read but yet you use such poor grammar. How amusing. You should quit your day job as a paid industry hack and go back to school to learn basic English. This would also explain why you refuse to answer my question about the research. You never read it because you are not capable of reading it. Otherwise, you would not resort to such weak argumentation that is clearly right out of industry’s playbook.

    You cannot even type the word neonicotinoids. Do you even know what they are? Do you have a clue? What independently conducted research that has been published and peer-reviewed can you cite? You claim you don’t support them but your weak arguments suggest otherwise.

  13. I don’t take English advise from someone who can’t decide if they are Clinton or Clinson. Perhaps you’ll go to school with me, I’ll learn to not occasionally miss a word when typing fast and you’ll finally learn to spell your own name.

  14. 100% agree
    I did research and found out how many past Monsanto employees are now on the board of the EPA/ USDA. Follow the $$$$. 🙁

  15. I am a full time beekeeper. I don’t support the chemical companies. However, the beekeeping community has yet to be presented with a single study that has field level doses applied. The “800+ peer-reviewed studies” have either been debunked, or use unrealistic dosages. If I did a study that gave you 800% of your daily intake of water, I could deduce that water will kill you. The EU ban of some (not all) neonics has not changed the bee mortality in Europe.

    I agree, this letter is inflammatory, and fear mongering. Please show some actual evidence to support the claims.

    I don’t support the chemical companies, I don’t believe they value our well being and environment more than the almighty dollar, but I am unwilling to condemn them on this issue without some proof

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *