Yes, your pesticides are killing the bees.

10 Jun

It’s not that complicated really: If you spray your fields with pesticides, you kill the honeybees in our community.

Farmer Rasband sprays the fields.

Literally 10 yards from the hives

Piles of dead bees from pesticides earlier this spring

New bees dying on the landing board immediately after spraying

These photos were taken 10 minutes apart at hives in Albuquerque’s North Valley, near some of the poshest “country estates” in the city. Farmer Scott Rasband, owner of Rasband Dairy was out spraying his fields just yards from the beehives we manage as a public service for City Open Space who sells the honey to generate funds. The hives had already experienced a pesticide kill from Rasband’s spraying a couple weeks ago but 10 minutes after the spraying today, bees were perishing yet again on the landing board. Makes you wonder how he treats his cows, doesn’t it?

As I took the photo of Farmer Rasband, I attempted to puff up like a menacing Valkyrie but honestly, I just felt helpless and sad. Truly, to keep bees in these times is to live with a broken heart.

Chemical kill at one of the hives

Related articles:

Evidence That Pesticides Are Seriously Messing Up Our Honey Bees
USDA: Pesticides and the Honey Bee
Accountability: Pay Beekeepers When Pesticides Kill Their Bees
City Bees are healthier than country bees (because of pesticides)

Update 5/25/2012: It has taken almost 2 years, but today the City decided to require Rasband NOT spray herbicides or pesticides on this farm on Open Space lands.Ā  Congratulations on the health of humans and bees nearby!


25 Responses to “Yes, your pesticides are killing the bees.”

  1. Mary Beth June 10, 2010 at 5:06 pm #

    I can only shake my head, so sad.

  2. Jay June 10, 2010 at 5:18 pm #

    This is just about the saddest thing ever. Talk about biting the hand that feeds, or in this case, the wings that pollinate. I hope your hives pull through this.

  3. mistress beek June 10, 2010 at 6:42 pm #

    Thank you both! Really, it’s terrible. I wish there was something I could do.

    In the meantime, huge thanks for sharing some love today. I needed it.

    • Gord June 10, 2010 at 7:26 pm #

      Naming the enemy can be therapeutic. It would be so nice if “hormone-free milk” also translated to not spraying the fields with poison. Sigh.

      I’m thankful that there are some tighter controls on pesticide application here. Anyone spraying is required to check the beekeepers registry database and notify us in advance. Violations are expensive. šŸ™‚

      • mistress beek June 10, 2010 at 7:39 pm #

        Yet another reason to love Canada! T’would be spectacular to implement protocols like that here. Thanks for sharing the idea.

      • C.C. June 21, 2010 at 6:29 pm #

        So we could use the Canadian way as an example to show City of Albuquerque!

  4. karcuri13 June 10, 2010 at 6:50 pm #

    That totally stinks. Hope your bees are ok.

    • mistress beek June 10, 2010 at 7:16 pm #

      Thanks for the good words, Karl.

      It’s so bizarre — people like my great grandfather could farm AND keep bees but for some reason the two seem mutually exclusive now.

      Fingers crossed…

  5. lesley June 10, 2010 at 7:23 pm #

    I’m so very sorry about the bees and the incompetence, Chantal. Perhaps we need to take Farmer Rasband to lunch and explain the problem…

    • mistress beek June 10, 2010 at 7:37 pm #

      Hee, hee, Lesley. Can you even imagine šŸ˜‰

    • Eleanor Franklin June 14, 2010 at 7:32 pm #

      You should invite him to lunch. I got two of my neighbours to stop spraying their yards years ago smply by explaining a few things to them. It’s amazing how oblivious some people are about some situatons. I think some face to face conversation will result in some positive moves. People have lost their ability to cmmunicate in person, and it can be very positive and effective.

      • mistress beek June 15, 2010 at 8:05 am #

        Hello Eleanor, thanks for stopping by! I love your suggestion and will encourage City Open Space (who manages the land for both the bees and Farmer Rasband) to try this option.

  6. Julie June 10, 2010 at 8:11 pm #

    This really makes me sad! Makes me want to stop buying his milk as well.

    • C.C. June 21, 2010 at 6:31 pm #

      Yeah, I agree – I buy Rasband milk all the time because I want to support a local Dairy. I will find a way to communicate with them. Also we can tell La Montanita Coop about your post, they will have leverage, too.

  7. Kalisha Weidemann June 11, 2010 at 10:01 am #

    With your words, I wrote this for you:

    you’re selling off
    our community
    with pesticides.

    do you always treat
    perishing soil
    with piles of dead bee

    And was then reminded of this:

    I’m in for protesting, too.

    • mistress beek June 11, 2010 at 10:19 am #

      Oh Kalisha, that’s the most sweet thing ever. Thank you, hon.

      • Julie June 13, 2010 at 7:52 pm #

        Is it possible to relocate them to a more ‘bee” friendly location?

  8. Jill June 14, 2010 at 7:21 am #

    I noticed today that Los Poblanos is selling Rasband milk on the member’s market. I am going to lodge a protest with Becca citing this link.

    • mistress beek June 14, 2010 at 7:54 am #

      Hi Jill, I’d be happy to speak with Becca about this as there’s more I’m just not willing to post publicly.

      In the end, we may just have to move the bees across town although city-owned sites with both bee forage and areas protected from foot-traffic are few.

      But still… should the farmer renting land from City Open Space (in other words, a taxpayer funded property) be allowed to spray pesticides and herbicides? Should he be allowed to do so in a residential neighborhood? At the very least, shouldn’t he reveal his spray schedule and list of chemicals used?

      It’s much bigger than beekeeping, it seems.

  9. Monte June 14, 2010 at 6:49 pm #

    Has anyone called Scott to ask what he was spreading in this application. It is not a safe assumption to label it as a pesticide. Most pesticides are sprayed out of a boom of some sort. There are a lot of Organic things that disrupt the lives of natural beings, like bees, as well. I think that you should call him to get the nitty gritty first. He is a really nice guy and open with his practices. Which is why we support him. He is the only local dairy and so we give people the option to support local hormone-free milk, or regional Organic. Choices are bueno. So are facts. Give him a call and see what happened. Good luck with the bees and we have 16 acres in the South Valley that I would be happy to let you use free of charge and free of sprays šŸ™‚

    • mistress beek June 15, 2010 at 8:01 am #

      Hi there. Thanks for the suggestions, Monte, I really appreciate it. And especially the offer for an alternate location! I’ll make sure City Open Space is aware of this option.

      Yes, my understanding is that there is a regular but unsuccessful dialogue long underway between Farmer Rasband and the City Open Space program. I maintain the bees above for City Open Space, so working through them is the necessary course of action.

      Sadly, all I can say for certain from my perspective is that the hives are struggling with chemical kill at that location and that I’ve personally witnessed both the truck shown above and another ATV loaded with jugs of liquid being sprayed on fields managed by Rasband.

      In the meantime, I appreciate all the good thoughts and supportive ideas. Thank you so much for caring about the fate of pollinators in our gorgeous city!

  10. teeandzee June 16, 2010 at 7:13 am #

    Modern “farm” men thinking only in economic terms, products and profits. Usually thinking and acting in the “land-as-commodity” mindset has consequences that can be more easily ignored, but in this case, there it is, yards away. Destroyers and usurpers. Curse them! Good on you for working so hard to have healthy bee populations in ABQ.

    You are my bee heroes.

  11. mistress beek June 22, 2010 at 7:03 am #

    An update, folks. I spoke with City Council last night and they say that Open Space is working to get herbicide/pesticide notification and disclosure built into the contract for this farmer.

    I’d want to remain hopeful. But I’ll probably just be practical and move the bees far, far away from this location since I have no data to indicate there’s an actual desire to work together.

    The good news is that his contract is renewed annually, so perhaps good citizenship will play a role in reevaluation.

  12. alyssa August 22, 2013 at 10:55 am #

    i’m trying to decide whether or not to try rasband dairy milk with my new skarsgard basket & came across this post while googling. since this post is more than 3 yrs old, i am wondering if there are any more recent updates? we are an organic family that is trying to get more local, so any further updates you have on this chemical issue would be appreciated. thank you!


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