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Energy and Environment

In Effort To Protect Bees, EPA Could Restrict Hundreds Of Pesticides

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Martin LaBar, flickr Creative Commons
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Farmers could be temporarily prohibited from applying pesticides if new proposed environmental regulations are adopted. Harvest Public Media’s Jeremy Bernfeld reports on new efforts to protect bees.

About 40 percent of the nation’s bee colonies died last year. That’s why the Environmental Protection Agency wants to help protect honeybees.

The vast majority of bees belong to commercial beekeepers. They’re hired out to farmers who want to pollinate fields of fruits like almonds, cherries or apples.

The new rules would prevent farmers who hire beekeepers from spraying insecticides while the bees are on the property.

The EPA’s Jim Jones said the rules would restrict hundreds of products.

“Prohibiting the use of pesticides that are toxic to bees when you know the bees are going to be there, we think is an important protection that we can create for honeybees,” Jones said.

The rules will undergo public comment, but Jones said he hopes they’re in place by next spring.

Jeremy Bernfeld is editor of Harvest Public Media, a Kansas City-based public radio reporting collaboration that focuses on agriculture and food production.