Your Source For Beekeeping News, Information and Entertainment
Aug. 1, 2022

Beyond Pesticides with Jay Feldman (S5, E7)

Beyond Pesticides with Jay Feldman (S5, E7)

This week, Kim and Jeff talk with Jay Feldman, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Beyond Pesticides. Beyond Pesticides is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization headquartered in Washington, D.C., which works with allies in protecting public health and the...


This week, Kim and Jeff talk with Jay Feldman, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Beyond Pesticides. Beyond Pesticides is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization headquartered in Washington, D.C., which works with allies in protecting public health and the environment to lead the transition to a world free of toxic pesticides.  

Beyond Pesticides provides visitors to their website a wealth of information to help folks understand, truly understand, the chemicals they apply around their house and garden in order to eradicate pests. Perhaps the best is Beyond Pesticide’s ManageSafe™ Tool. Using ManageSafe, a homeowner can select the pest they are have, then read about that pest, whether it is a real concern, preventative measures, non-chemical/mechanical controls, biological controls, an ascending order list of the least-toxic chemical controls and the chemicals to avoid.

This is a valuable resource for beekeepers and those interested in all pollinators. Book mark it and share it with your family, friends and neighbors!

This week, Kim reviews three books by Wally Shaw, on Bee Books Old and New with Kim Flottum:

We hope you enjoy the episode. Leave comments and questions in the Comments Section of the episode's website.

Thank you for listening!

Links and websites mentioned in this podcast: 

Honey Bee Obscura

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This episode is brought to you by Global Patties! Global Patties is a family business that manufactures protein supplement patties for honey bees. Global PattiesGlobal offers a variety of standard patties, as well as custom patties to meet your specific needs. Visit them today at http://globalpatties.com and let them know you appreciate them sponsoring this episode! 

We welcome Betterbee as sponsor of today's episode. Betterbee’s mission is to support every beekeeper with excellent customer BetterBeeservice, continued education and quality equipment. From their colorful and informative catalog to their support of beekeeper educational activities, including this podcast series, Betterbee truly is Beekeepers Serving Beekeepers. See for yourself at www.betterbee.com

We welcome HiveAlive back as an episode sponsor. HiveAlive is the #1 liquid feed supplement for honeybees worldwide.  It contains a unique blend of seaweed extracts, thyme and
lemongrass. HiveAlive has been proven to increase bee strength, produce more honey, improved bee gut health and improved overwinter survival. Ask about HiveAlive and new HiveAlive Fondant & Pollen Patty at your local beekeeping store or visit the website www.usa.hivealivebees.com for more information. Listeners of the podcast can claim a special discount online using the code "BTP" at the checkout!

Thanks for Northern Bee Books for their sponsorship of Bee Books: Old & New with Kim Flottum. Northern Bee Books is the publisher of bee books available worldwide from their website or from Amazon and bookstores everywhere. They are also the publishers of The Beekeepers Quarterly and Natural Bee Husbandry.

Thanks to Strong Microbials for their support of Beekeeping TodayStrong Microbials Podcast. Find out more about heir line of probiotics in our Season 3, Episode 12 episode and from their website: https://www.strongmicrobials.com

We want to also thank 2 Million Blossoms as a sponsor of the podcast. 2 Million Blossoms is a regular podcast featuring interviews with leading bee and insect researchers in the world of pollination, hosted by Dr. Kirsten Traynor.

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We hope you enjoy this podcast and welcome your questions and comments in the show notes of this episode or: questions@beekeepingtodaypodcast.com

Thanks to Bee Culture, the Magazine of American Beekeeping, for their support of The Beekeeping Today Podcast. Available in print and digital at www.beeculture.com

Bee Culture Magazine

Thank you for listening! 

Podcast music: Be Strong by Young Presidents; Epilogue by Musicalman; Walking in Paris by Studio Le Bus; A Fresh New Start by Pete Morse; Original guitar background instrumental by Jeff Ott

Beekeeping Today Podcast is an audio production of Growing Planet Media, LLC

Growing Planet Media, LLC

Transcript

S5, E07 – Beyond Pesticides With Jay Feldman

[music]

Jeff Ott: Welcome to Beekeeping Today Podcast presented by Bee Culture. Beekeeping Today Podcast is your source for beekeeping news, information, and entertainment. I'm Jeff Ott.

Kim Flottum: I'm Kim Flottum.

Global Patties: Hey, Jeff, and Kim. Today's sponsor is Global Patties. They're a family-operated business that manufactures protein supplement patties for honeybees, it's a good time to think about honeybee nutrition. Feeding your hives protein supplement patties will ensure that they produce strong and healthy colonies by increasing brood production and overall honey flow. Now is a great time to consider what type of patty is right for your area and your honeybees. Global offers a variety of standard patties as well as custom patties to meet your needs.

No matter where you are, global is ready to serve you out of their manufacturing plants in Airdrie, Alberta, and in Butte, Montana, or from distribution depots across the continent. Visit them today at www.globalpatties.com.

Jeff: Thanks, Sheri, and thank you, Global Patties. Each week we get to talk about how much we appreciate our sponsor support, and we know you'd rather we get right to talking about beekeeping. However, our great sponsors are critical to help making all of this happen. From the transcripts, the hosting fees, the software, the hardware, the microphones, the subscriptions, the recorders, they enable each episode. With that, thanks to Bee Culture Magazine for continuing their presenting sponsorship of this podcast. Bee Culture has been the magazine for American beekeeping since 1873.

Subscribe to Bee Culture today. Hey, everybody, thanks for joining us. We're really happy you're here. Before we get started, just a quick reminder to subscribe or follow Beekeeping Today Podcast and give us a five-star rating. It really does help. Also, we are now adding complete transcripts of each episode on the website after the show notes. Check them out. You can also leave questions and comments online under each show. You can leave a comment, ask a question, reply to a question, our listeners.

Click on Leave a Comment at the top of the episode's show notes to join the discussion.

Have you listened to an episode and thought, "That person sounds really interesting, and I'd like to know more about them."? Now you can. Each episode links to a guest profile. Each profile has a guest photo, bio, contact information including Instagram and Twitter details if they have them. Check it out. Finally, share the podcast with your beekeeping friends, email them links or mention them at your next beekeeper meeting. Hey, everybody. Thanks again for joining us. Kim will be along in just a minute. We have a really good show lined up for you today with our guest, Jay Feldman, Co-Founder, and Executive Director of Beyond Pesticides.

Beyond pesticides is a 501(C)(3) nonprofit organization headquartered in Washington, DC. Their mission and goal is to return control of pesticide use laws to the general public and away from the chemical companies and decision-makers who may not be looking out for your best interest. It is a worthwhile discussion. One you should listen to whether you're a beekeeper whose bees forage across the pesticide-laden landscape, or you have kids and grandkids who play in the public park. It is really a hot summer this year. Do you know how to keep cool so you don't overheat?

Do you know the difference between heat exhaustion and heat stroke? What is your strategy for keeping cool as you work the bees this month? On the Honey Bee Obscura Podcast, Kim Flottum and Jim Tew talk about dealing with the summer heat in the bee yard, and how you can keep from overheating and keep your cool. Head on over to honeybeeobscura.com and give it a listen. Coming up, Kim has Bee Books: Old & New, reviewing a couple of books from Northern Bee Books. Before we get to Kim, let's take a quick break and hear from one of our sponsors.

HiveAlive: Hey, beekeepers, are you using HiveAlive? With its unique blend of seaweed extracts, thyme, and lemongrass, HiveAlive is the number one liquid feed supplement for honeybees worldwide. Its proven formula will increase hive population and honey production, improve bee gut health, and improve overwinter survival. Now it is available in fondant patties and pollen patties. To help you stock up, enter the HiveAlive beekeeping giveaway. The first prize is a $1,000 gift card from Hillco beekeeping equipment and a $500 HiveAlive gift card.

Second prize is a $500 HiveAlive gift card. Third prize is a $250 HiveAlive gift card. Visit usa.hivealivebees.com for all the details about this giveaway. Good luck.

Jeff: All right. Thanks a lot, HiveAlive. Hey, Kim, you said you had a couple of book reviews for us. You got those ready?

Kim: Yes, I do, Jeff. It's modified a little bit. These are going to be all fairly new books from Northern Bee Books. They're all available on Amazon. They're, I guess you'd call them booklets. They're 35 pages, 40 pages at the most, and they cost $10 or $11 on a bunch of subjects. They're all really good. Just let me give you a rundown on each of the ones that I think you should be aware of. They're all written by an author named Wally Shaw. Wally Shaw lives in North Wales in the United Kingdom. His location has a fairly extreme oceanic climate.

Warm, wet, and windy. The latter probably being the limiting factor as far as honey production is concerned. He and his wife took up beekeeping 35 years ago, primarily to provide pollination for a recently planted orchard of about 70 trees. They never intended to run more than about six hives, but as interest and experience grew, the number gradually increased up to a peak of about 65 hives in 7 apiaries. As both are retired research ecologists, it was honeybee biology, that is how colonies worked and why, that was the main driving force, although the income from honey came in handy.

They soon came to understand, mostly the hard way, that swarm control was simultaneously the most important and most difficult part of colony management. They also found that the accepted methods of swarm control, those that are recommended in beekeeping books, were less than reliable, and through experimentation started to develop their own methods. They joined the local beekeeping association, which is affiliated to the Welsh Beekeepers Association. As a contribution to that association's educational function, and initially sponsored by the Welsh Government, in 2010, Wally started to write a series of booklets.

Two of which deal with swarm control, essentially as practical guides to beekeepers. Today, I'll briefly cover several of his most recent booklets covering a variety of beekeeping topics. All are available on Amazon and are quite inexpensive. They're all 6.5 inches by 9.5 inches soft covers, and have lots of informative color photos and diagrams. They're all published by Northern Bee Books, and you can get them there also. They are short, to the point, well written, and contain solid practical information on colony management. I recommend them all if needed, but certainly, check out the titles and get the one or two you have the most problems with or know the least about.

The first of these is called Management. It's a paperback, 31 pages, $11. Honeybees can successfully live in all sorts of different nest sites. A hole in the tree, a chimney, or a beehive, but in all cases, it's just a cavity in which to make a set of combs. Because it is dark in the hive, communication is through pheromones or vibration, and combs provide the ideal carrier for this information. For example, bees can always locate the queen by following the trail of her footprint pheromone in the combs. With the introduction of the movable frame hive, followed quickly by the invention of wax foundation and the queen excluder, everything changed.

Beekeepers were now able to induce the bees to make their combs where the beekeepers wanted them in wooden frames. They could now even influence the size of cells they built by the dimensions of the hexagon embossed on the sheet of wax. It also became possible to separate the use of combs for brood rearing and honey storage using a queen excluder.

A lot has changed, and this book covers a lot of what you need to know to manage your combs well. I certainly recommend it. The next book is An Apiary Guide to Swarm Control, which is where he started all of this.

It's Illustrated, has 40 pages, and it costs $13.50 on Amazon. A good overview of the basics of not having your colonies participate in the grand urge to swarm. It talks about pre-emptive swarm control, including column and box management which involves brood placement, honey location, splitting hives, and the like. Reactive swarm control looks at, they've already started planning to leave, so what do I do now? Actions you can take. This includes finding queen cells, dealing with prime and secondary swarms and queenless swarmed colonies.

The author begins and sums up this book like this. "There is no doubt that swarm control is simultaneously the most important and the most difficult aspect of colony management. We can but try." Amen. The next is Harvesting Honey, another paperback illustrated. 30 pages, $11. The aim of this booklet is to help beekeepers better understand honey itself and to harvest and prepare it for home use or sale, retaining as much of its essential properties as possible. If we are to produce good honey, it's important to understand how it should be handled in all stages between the hive and the jar because, in reality, it is quite a delicate product.

It is generally accepted the best honey comes straight from the comb. That is, cut comb resections. The various processes that are used to get pristine honey from the comb into a jar, all have the potential to damage it in some way. The author looks at what honey is, the kinds of honey that is from different floral sources, removing honey-filled combs from a hive, the equipment used for extraction, including uncapping extractors. Because he's from Great Britain, he looks at the unique characteristics of Heather honey. Filtering is also examined, how to prepare creamed honey or making sure it stays clear, and certainly, bottling.

He finishes with hints on quality control, including heating, wax separation, preserving the volatiles in honey, and storage. All are subjects every beekeeper should know before the first time they harvest their honey.

[music]

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Jeff: Hey, everybody. While you're at the Strong Microbial site, make sure you click on and subscribe to The Hive, the regular newsletter full of interesting beekeeping facts and product updates. Thanks for joining us. Sitting across the virtual zoom table right now is Jay Feldman, Executive Director of Beyond Pesticides. Welcome, Jay.

Jay Feldman: Hey, Jeff. Good to be here.

Kim: Hi, Jay. It's nice to meet you finally. Jay is in charge of this group, and it's a pretty impressive group. I was aware that they existed, but until just recently, I went looking at their webpage and looked at some of the programs they have. I'm very impressed with the things that they're doing. Of course, pollinators are where we come in here in terms of pesticides, but they're looking at everything. Jay, I'm going to take a half step back here and say, can you give us just a quick overview of what Beyond Pesticides does, some of the programs you're involved in, and how wide and broad spectrum you guys work on?

Jay: Yes. Thanks for the question, Kim. We started back 40 years ago realizing that people were being poisoned, that the environment was being contaminated, and that the regulation of pesticides were not adequate to properly protect people and the environment. At the same time recognizing that, we were aware that there were alternatives that in fact, for many of the uses that we engage with pesticides, we use pesticides from, many of those uses, there are alternatives, and they are not poisonous and they don't contaminate.

It became this intersection between what are the harms and are there alternatives? Now, that was 40 years ago. You can imagine, we've learned a lot in those 40 years. We started about 20 years after Rachel Carson wrote Silent Spring. We had all the apparatus in place. EPA was in place, The US Environmental Protection Agency, and so, theoretically, we had the laws that would adequately protect people and the environment. We didn't, at that time, have any real support for alternatives in agriculture coming out of the US Department of Agriculture.

There was this big hole, I think, in terms of moving along, moving our society in the direction of thinking ecologically, what are the impacts associated with the introduction of poisons into the environment? Now, having said that as background, we set out to put together a program that was really hands-on, very hands-on, hands-on review of what's going on in science. We're a science-based organization, and we believe for either as a homeowner, as a beekeeper, as a farmer, as a park director, I've got to have good information about what's going on.

We essentially review the scientific literature, the regulatory decisions. You can see, on our website, we have these huge databases that track individual chemicals and track policies at The US Environment Protection Agency and state agencies, and so forth. At the same time, we really do believe that it's our responsibility as we criticize and critique these adverse effects, that we really talk about what the real-life alternatives are if we say, "X pesticide is bad," or, "Y pesticides shouldn't be used." In that context, we curate, I should say, this database, which we call ManageSafe.

Literally, the situations we're dealing with by pest, so if it's a flea infestation, cockroach, if it's a rodent, if it's a weed in your garden, we literally break down how you manage a system so as to prevent and control that unwanted organism, whether it's a insect, or a weed, or a plant.

Jeff: That's really interesting about your program. People think of pesticides and they think of the garden, around the house, et cetera, but you're also looking at the aquatic pesticides and aquatic agriculture. That's something that usually is not considered when you think about pesticides.

Jay: That's the interesting thing about pesticides, and beekeepers understand this because bees are going out into a polluted environment, and they're coming back to the hive with that pollution. It's this interaction with nature that is crosscutting. Whether we're talking about agriculture, we're talking about air. Beekeepers experience drift like anybody else living in areas where pesticides are used. Whether it's a agricultural area or it's a residential area, the pesticides drift from the target site. They move through the air and they settle in on the non-target site.

Same with water. One of the biggest problems with pesticides are these neonicotinoid chemicals, I'm sure you've heard about these and neonicotinoid insecticides. When EPA first started looking at it, and we criticized the agency for not adequately evaluating impacts on bee populations, they didn't have an adequate study on the impact on bees when they registered the chemical at EPA.

When we got wind of this, very relatively late in the game because we organized with beekeepers a coalition back in 2010 to say to EPA, "Why did you give Bayer a conditional registration knowing that you did not have any good study on the impact on bees, knowing, and you yourself, as the agency said that this chemical was and is highly toxic to bees?"

There's this disconnect and our job is to highlight that, bring that information to light, and then talk about what the alternatives are. Yes, water became a critical issue.

Actually, under this venue of tracking EPA, we evaluated a study that EPA put out and said that we're looking at, I think it was imidacloprid, one of the most widely-used neonicotinoid insecticides. We're finding it in waterways, above what they call benchmark levels that establish the threat to a species. They're finding a highly toxic persistent insecticide in waterways that can, at the levels they're being found in waterways, kill keystone species. What does that mean? Yes, contamination of the water, but the organisms living in the water are basically at severe, severe threat.

Kim: Just to give listeners a feel for how this chemical is introduced into the environment, what are the leading or the major avenues of release into the water as you put it?

Jay: That's a good question because there are different routes of exposure associated with chemical use and application methods. This happens to be a chemical, the neonics, that are used or applied to seeds as one major use pattern. The chemical company comes up with this idea, "Hey, we can reduce drift. We can reduce worker exposure if we apply the pesticide to the seed. Then as the plant grows, it gets taken up by the plant through the vascular system." The only problem is that it expresses itself through the pollen nectar in guttation droplets, causing indiscriminate poisoning for any insect that happens to be foraging on a plant that is grown from a treated sea.

While you got to hand it to these guys, they were trying to solve a problem, but they weren't thinking outside the box of that problem and thinking of the whole ecosystem. That's what's missing today. I think that's what's happened. That's why we're seeing existential crises, as you know, we're seeing these incredible declines in biodiversity. We're on the verge of biodiversity extinction or biodiversity collapse, and we're seeing the issues of climate escalating and escalating. If you really look into the literature on our site, we have something called the pesticide-induced diseases database.

It's downright frightening, and I work in this area. It's downright frightening when you sit down and you look at the range of adverse health effects from cancer, to birth defects, reproductive damage, infertility, behavioral effects, ADHD, autism, asthma, respiratory effects. Immune system and neurological system effects. It's really interesting because a lot of these things we're seeing, you don't think of being related to pesticides. For instance, we're seeing elevated rates of diabetes and Parkinson's disease associated with pesticide exposure.

Now, not all pesticides, but some of the major pesticides, like in agriculture, and even in-home use as well. I think that we have a lot of good information, it's out there in the scientific literature, it is available. We try to make that information accessible to folks so that they can reach their own conclusions, look at the underlying science. We then go directly to people. We are not a huge organization, so many of your listeners may not have heard of us, and that's a shame because it's before anyone makes a decision on managing a pest, and I dare say that most people come into a pest situation, at least several times a year.

Betterbee: Hey, have you thought about helping your bees protect themselves as you head into fall? Yes, it's that time when robbing frenzies start and your local nectar flow ends. If you add a robber screen, it stops unwelcome bees from entering your hives, and it can prevent the spread of Varroa mites and the transmission of Varroa mite diseases. For podcast listeners only, Betterbee has teamed up with BeeSmart Designs to offer a free BeeSmart Designs Robbing Screen with any product purchase through October 1st, 2020. Simply use the code, protect@checkout to get your free robber's screen.

Jeff: Welcome back, everybody. Before the break, Jay, we were talking about how easily accessible pesticides are. They're everywhere, but the statement on the can or bottle of pesticide saying it's EPA approved or good housekeeping approved, whatever the approval logo they want to use, doesn't that certification mean that that product is safe for me, my family, my pets, my environment?

Jay: We can't rely on the fact that this chemical happens to be on the market, and it has an EPA registration number on it. That's not good enough. We need to do a little research and we make it easy, beyondpesticides.org. Just do a little research on that chemical that you see in your local hardware store. Type it in, call it up, look at what is known about that chemical, and sometimes what is not known. Then switch over to the ManageSafe database, and see if there's an alternative strategy for managing that pest. Then make an informed decision.

That kind of mindset, I think, is something we are learning about more and more in the United States because we are making these kinds of decisions in the marketplace. Let's take food as an example. If I'm concerned about pollinators, I want to know that the food that I'm buying hasn't been grown with these chemicals that are adversely affecting the ecology in which the crop is being grown. If I'm growing my garden in my backyard or whatever, I want to know that I'm not introducing something that is harmful to my family. When I say harmful, I'm talking about residues of the chemical on the plant.

It's both. It's both, am I causing unnecessary harm to the ecosystem in which I live, and am I introducing a chemical, or am I buying a food commodity for which a chemical was introduced, that is harmful as a result of the residues on the finished food product that I'm eating?

Kim: What you're saying is probably beekeepers are a little more aware of this than most people, but only a little more aware, if it's sitting on the shelf of your local hardware store, doesn't mean that it's good for you, and it doesn't mean that it can do all the things that you want it to do without any harm. You said, go to your website, look at the chemical and see what the good stuff is, and what the bad stuff is, and what you can choose so that you don't have to choose the bad stuff, but I can name you 20 people I know that will never do that.

It's sitting on the shelf, and it says Fly Spray, they're going to go home, and they're going to spray their house for the flies that got in. That's the level of their thinking because it said so on the label, just in big letters, not the little ones on the side of the label. From a beekeeper's perspective, we're confronted with that kind of reasoning a lot. I'm not thinking of farmers so much. These folks have a monetary interest in what they put in their fields, it costs money. They have safety issues, they have to obey the law, but I'm thinking of homeowners, and lawns, and gardens, golf courses, and parks and recreation, those sorts of things, there's much less going on there in terms of what you're thinking.

I guess my question is, how can we get what you're doing into the hands of the people who aren't doing what we want them to?

Jay: Part of the reason we exist as an organization is because people have questions about what they can do, and there's no place to go. Where do I go to find out? I went to my extension service at the land-grant university, and they told me to buy pesticide. I'm looking for somebody that can help me with alternatives. Now that's changing thankfully. That is changing. We're seeing incredible work going on at land-grant institutions, but we're also seeing a lot of pesticide promotion as if to say we cannot maintain our productivity or quality of life without use of these chemicals.

That's an underlying assumption or presumption that we see often in many academic institutions and land-grant universities. Not always. Again, it's changing, I want to stress that, but the individual who is asking the right questions, "What are we using in our town? What am I using on my yard? What are the alternatives available to me?" those questions all have answers, and then those answers can translate into, thankfully, marketplace decisions. We didn't have that 10 years, 20 years ago. We couldn't say to an individual, "You go down to your local hardware store and look for this product that's in compliance with their Organic Foods Production Act.

I can't have a conversation like this without raising the issue of organic management practices because that's where we have a defined management system that recognizes the need to protect and enhance biodiversity, ie, pollinators at all, and we need to have a system in place that evaluates these chemicals to a different standard than EPA evaluates these chemicals. That evaluation is done by the National Organic Standards Board, which is a board created under this Organic Foods Production Act. I was honored to be a part of a group of folks that helped to draft that law back in 1989, passed in 1990.

Then actually serve on the board from 2010 to 2015. It's an appointment by the Secretary of Agriculture, and we created a board in that law that includes practitioners, meaning farmers, certifiers, people that are actually on the farm, evaluating and monitoring what's going on, consumers and conservationists/environmentalists, state regulator and retailers. It's a real interesting mix of the real world on this board. This board is instructed by law to work together to define, the law has definitions in it, of course, but to implement those definitions and ensure that whatever is allowed in organic production meets the standards that are protective of biodiversity and public health.

Kim: You could take that set of standards then. Maybe I, or my beekeeping group, or some local organization could look at, first off, where do I find them? Second, once I've found them, then I could take those and go to my city council and say, "Here's what you're doing now, and here's an alternative that's going to be safer for the citizens of your city, and the animals that walk on your park, and the children that play in your playgrounds." Are people doing that? Is this being used?

Jay: Yes. Thank you for pulling us in that direction because all this information I'm talking about feeds directly into what you're asking. That is, let's evaluate what we're doing. Let's make informed choices, and let's put in place management systems for our parks, our playing fields, our rights of way, our golf courses, and let's get those programs going. In fact, we actually have a program that goes into communities and offers services. We have underwriting from foundations and from natural grocers, which is a grocery chain. They believe in what we're doing, and so they raise money in the stores.

These are customers in the store that are pulling dollars out of their pocket to donate to this program, which you've just described, which is helping park districts, helping cities, towns, and counties convert their public lands to natural organic management practices that do not rely on toxic materials, toxic pesticides. It's an exciting program. We're all over the country, and we're actually looking for new communities every day, to bring a horticulturist in. What we do essentially on public land is similar to what an organic farmer does in agriculture.

That is, we think about the management of that site in a systems approach. In other words, we look at the soil and the plant material from the ground up. We're not looking at, what can we do to kill this pest? What chemical can we use to kill this weed, to kill this insect? We're looking at, how can we build a soil system that's resilient, that doesn't create vulnerabilities to pest infestations, and that is productive for the plant? In this case, it could be a turf system, it could be ornamental plants, could be trees, whatever it is, building that soil system to cycle nutrients naturally through microbial activity in the soil that breaks down organic matter and solubilizes the nutrients.

That whole systems approach is totally contradicted by conventional land management, whether we're talking agriculture or parks, in which we feed soluble synthetic nutrients to the plant, goes right into the plant, a lot of it goes into our waterways, even if it's time-released, it's synthetic, and solubilized without depending on the microbial activity in the soil. Then we use these fertilizers, which create a vulnerability to infestation. We're then in this cycle where we need insecticides because we've created vulnerabilities. There's an analogy here to beekeeping that I, in talking with beekeepers, have come across.

You've heard me rail against neonicotinoids already today. There's good reason for that, both in terms of what we see, the impact of them, as well as what we read in the scientific literature. When EPA and Bayer chemical, the producer of the insecticide, the neonics, looks at it, they say, "The problem beekeepers are having are Varroa mites. That's what's killing off the hives." That may be the case, that there is a problem with Varroa mites, but what we're asking, and we're working with beekeepers on this, is, are some of the chemicals that are getting into the hives because foraging insects brings these back to the hive?

We know that through the science, that bees' immune system, their ability to function and communicate are adversely impacted by the chemical exposure. What we've created in the hive is a vulnerability that makes the insect more vulnerable to the disease or infestation. That's what we're trying to get at when we talk about a systems approach. We're trying to get our regulators and our decision makers to recognize that we are part of an ecological system, and we need to work with it. My God, who do we thank when we talk about ecosystem services?

We thank beekeepers. We thank natural pollinators that are out in the field doing work that has economic value to the producer. We enjoy plants that require pollination. A third of the food supply requires pollination. Ecosystem services with bees being pollinators, being the bedrock are at risk because we've introduced these synthetic toxics that create diseases and vulnerabilities that really hamper the ability of the bee population, pollinators, and biodiversity, overall, to thrive.

Kim: Jay, I'm going to bet that you're familiar with the work that Jonathan Lundgren is doing.

Jay: Of course, yes.

Kim: He's been on our program, and he's saying exactly the same things you are. He's coming at it from one direction, and you're looking at using what he's finding and getting other people to do it. I want to go back and have you give a little bit more overview on some of the things that you do besides bees and pesticides, as much as we appreciate that, but you guys have, like I said, broad spectrum programs, and you could just touch on some of them. I know you've got a blog that's out there, and you sell books, and you have resources.

Jay: The point of our work really is to recognize that there are different entry points for engaging with the question, do we need and should we be using toxic pesticides in our home, in our community, and in the production of our food? When I talk about entry points, I can talk to anybody. Don't care what area of work they're in, where they live, what they eat, what they do. There is an entry point for them that is addressed on our website. I'll give you several examples. Children. We hear a lot from parents. Parents are concerned about their children's health.

You wouldn't necessarily immediately go to pesticides to say, "My kid has asthma, and I'm concerned about maybe there's something going on here that's contributing to his or her asthma." Same thing with autism. You find Beyond Pesticides, you get on our website, and you see that there actually are pesticides that are directly related to those diseases. You can actually begin in your own life thinking about, "What can I do to try to avoid that exposure pattern?" You've mentioned the parks, which is key because we don't live in bubbles in our home, and so we need to go take that information, not only use it in our house but use it in the park.

There are individual pest problems that people have. Termites, great one in many parts of the country. How do we deal with that? You can call up, the first thing people do when they find termites is they find a pest control operator, an exterminator. The next thing they know, they're having holes drilled in their foundation, drenching around their home. All of a sudden, they've applied all these toxic chemicals that have long persistence, long residual capabilities, and they're exposing their family. Had they known about our website, they would have learned about termiticides.

What they do, how they're regulated, some of the problem chemicals, and the newer bait systems, and alternatives, and spot treatments, and prevention. Where are the termites living, what's attracting them to the home, et cetera. That's an entry point for people. A pest problem becomes the entry point. One of the things EPA does a lousy job of is recognizing the connection between say pesticides and cancer, and then regulating them. There are a lot of people in this country that are cancer survivors, they're going through cancer treatment, they have preexisting conditions, and they need to know what they can avoid.

We have a whole program on utility poles, and wood preservatives. We've made a little bit of progress on this. The chemical, parachlorophenol, has finally been canceled, but it could take a decade for it to phase out. Finally, it's going to be coming off the market, but we still have copper chromated arsenate on our utility poles.

Kim: That's a scary-sounding chemical.

Jay: It's arsenic, which has been banned for playground equipment. We worked on that for years because we were infusing wood with this chemical. The chemical was literally escaping the wood and moving toward the surface. The studies showed that kids were picking it up on their hands. As you all know, as parents know, there's this thing we call hand-to-mouth movement in children. It's extraordinary how many times a hand, especially a young kid's, can go in mouth. Here they are on this beautiful wood playground equipment and they're ingesting arsenic.

We got that off the market, but it's still used in utility poles.

Kim: It's amazing, Jay. I'm going to interrupt you here for a second, it's amazing that we have to fight to get poison off the market.

Jay: Yes.

Kim: You talked about the wooden playground, that sounds like the stuff that I grew up with back in the '50s and early '60s. Some of the things going on with people in my generation because of the swing sets that we were using back then, I wondered. That's amazing.

Jay: Yes, it is. Now, we have a lot, we call these legacy problems. When I started working, we were still using DDT in certain restricted ways, even though it was so-called banned, and derivatives of these chemicals. A lot of chemicals, it's not just the pesticide you're picking up in the hardware store, it's the chemical that it degrades to. Then the scariest thing is that there's something called other ingredients or used to be called inert ingredients. Just next time you go to the hardware store, pick up a pesticide, don't buy it, pick it up, turn the label over and look at the label of active ingredient and other or inert, I-N-E-R-T, inert ingredient.

They're not inert as we think of it from high school chemistry, they're inert by law because that's a definition of law that it's not put in the product to attack the target pest. That doesn't mean it's not harmful biologically or chemically. You'll see this percentage, it can go up to 99-point-something percent inert, or other ingredients not disclosed on the product label. It's considered proprietary information, and in many cases, it can be the most poisonous part of the product.

Again, when I mentioned briefly earlier that some of these chemicals we find out, we don't know as much about them as we should to make an informed decision even when we look at the scientific literature because sometimes we don't have all the information on the actual chemicals that are in the formulation that you're buying in that spray can, in that granule, in that liquid, that that is widely available on hardware store shelves.

Kim: On that promising note, it's a little scary, we're running close to being out of time here. Jeff is going to have all of your information, your webpage, and all of your contacts on our webpage so that they can come and visit you. You put out newsletters and you have blogs so people can sign up for so they can stay current on the work that you're doing. I'm impressed at how much was there, and I'm glad that you get up every day and go to work because it's making my life better. Jeff, anything?

Jeff: One thing I want to leave our listeners with is you've described the problem pretty good because I'm real nervous now. What can our listeners do if they've listened to this episode, and they say, "Oh man, I'm really concerned about pesticides."? Can you give me two quick things that they can do to start being more aware of the pesticide use in their home environment, and for theirselves and their families?

Jay: I would say do an inventory of what products you're using. Look under the sink, look in the garage, just look at the products that are being used. Look at what you're doing on your lawn. If you're hiring out a company, find out what they're using a lot. You'd be amazed how many people don't actually know what's being used by a service provider. Always ask questions about what's being used, and then come to our website and research it. It won't take long at all. We have folks that can actually talk to you, answer your questions, and work with you, but we must recognize that this goes to the question of, at what level can you engage, can you get involved?

People are busy, we understand that. If you do have more time than the simple inventory, it's not so simple, but the inventory of what you're doing and using in your home, think about what's going on in your community because we're going out every day into the community. We're going to parks, we're walking through the community, find out what is being used in the community. Then again, work with Beyond Pesticides. We have folks that will work with your town, actually provide the resources to bring in folks to help convert land management to organic natural practices that do not use toxic chemicals.

Kim: That's pretty impressive.

Jeff: Yes, and your website is a great resource. I encourage our listeners to go out and check out the beyondpesticides.org website. Lots of information there on resources and pesticides, and what you can do, and what to look for. We've been talking with Jay Feldman, the Executive Director of Beyond Pesticides. Jay, it's been really educational and scary listening to you today, but like Kim says, I have to thank you for the work that you and your team are doing to help keep us safe.

Jay: Really appreciate what you're doing, we're all part of the solution. No matter what level we engage at, we all make a difference. Really appreciate the opportunity to be on.

Jeff: Thank you.

Kim: Thanks, Jay.

Jeff: You mentioned Jonathan, and now we've talked to Jay, the pesticides, the issues, the residual effects. Jay didn't even talk about the synergistic effects of residual pesticides. It's a tough topic.

Kim: It is. The one thing, well, there's more than one thing, I really encourage people to go take a look at their webpage because they cover everything from bed bugs to butterflies. I'm interested in this program where you go to your grocery store and work with them and have people donate money. I'm going to investigate that one here locally, but there's a lot you can do. A lot you can do on a bigger scale than grocery stores here, parks, and recreation. I told Jay, and I'll say it again, I'm glad he gets up and goes to work every day.

Jeff: I agree, and as beekeepers, we are only just starting to really explore the effects of built-up pesticides in the wax, and its effects on the queens and the worker brood as they're developing. It's a scary thing.

Kim: I'll just give you one statistic that came out just this week. I think I read it in The New York Times, but he also mentioned glyphosate roundup. People went looking and what they found was four out of five people in this country have glyphosate in their urine, 80%. That should tell you something about the prevalence of some of these things in our environment and his organization working to reduce or get rid of that chemical. I was also amazed about the arsenic in children's playground equipment. [laughs] I don't even know what to say about that.

Jeff: That seems like such a no-brainer to get rid of it. As soon as it was realized, what cold soul wouldn't want to remove it? "No, no, we need to leave that arsenic there in the playground equipment. Leave it, profits over babies." [laughs]

Kim: Yes, it's amazing. Again, their webpage has a lot of information and updates of blogs and updates on newsletters, and they put out a journal every year. There's, you can go back, what did he say, 47 years and take a look at what was, and then what it turned out to be better later on. Good group.

Jeff: I'm glad we had them on. I encourage our listeners to check them out. That about wraps it up for this episode. Before we go, I want to encourage our listeners to rate us five stars on Apple Podcast or wherever you download and stream this show. Your vote helps other beekeepers find us quicker. Even better, write a review and let other beekeepers looking for a new podcast know what you like. You can get there directly from our website by clicking on Reviews along the top of any webpage. As always, we thank Bee Culture, the magazine for American beekeeping, for their continued support of Beekeeping Today Podcast.

We want to thank our regular episode sponsor, Global Patties. Check them out at globalpatties.com. Thanks to the Strong Microbials for their support of this podcast. Check out their probiotic line at strongmicrobials.com. We want to thank Betterbee for their long-time support. Check out all their great beekeeping supplies at betterbee.com. Thanks to Northern Bee Books for their support of Bee Books: Old & New with Kim Flottum. Check out all of their books at northernbeebooks.co.uk. Finally and most importantly, we want to thank you, the Beekeeping Today Podcast listener for joining us on this show.

Feel free to leave us comments and questions at Leave a Comment Section under each episode on the website. We'd love to hear from you. Thanks a lot, everybody.

[00:50:17] [END OF AUDIO]

Jay Feldman Profile Photo

Jay Feldman

Executive Director

Jay Feldman is a co-founder of Beyond Pesticides and has served as its director since 1981. Jay dedicated himself to finding solutions to pesticide problems after working with farmworkers and small farmers through a 1978 EPA grant to the national advocacy organization Rural America (1977–1981). Since then, Jay has helped to build Beyond Pesticides' capacity to assist local groups and to impact national pesticide policy.

Jay has tracked specific chemical effects, regulatory actions, and pesticide law. He is very familiar with local groups working on pesticides and has helped develop successful strategies for reform in local communities. His work with media has fostered broader public understanding of the hazards of pesticides.

Jay has a Master's degree in urban and regional planning with a focus on health policy from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (1977), and a BA from Grinnell College (1975) in political science. In September 2009, U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack appointed Jay to the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), where he completed a five-year term in January 2015.