Don’t Kill that Swarm, Hand Me the Queen

On May 12, a local online rag carried a posting alerting readers to a honeybee extermination taking place at the Goleta Home Depot garden department at the Camino Real Marketplace. This alarming news was extremely disturbing; a feeling of helplessness was pervasive as nothing could be done to save the swarm.

Home Depot managers told callers that the decision to kill the honeybees was made by the “corporate office” and that a beekeeper hired by the company had no choice but to kill them. The bees were not in any structural part of the store but in a swarm that could have been removed with ease.

It is common knowledge among scientists and those who care about bees that honeybees (and other bees and butterflies) need our protection. Bee populations are declining, thanks in large part to the use of pesticides in and on flowering plants. (Google “neonicotinoids and bees” to learn more.) However, Home Depot policy is to use pesticides on honeybees, rather than any rescue attempt, and thus no call was made to contact any of our local bee rescue groups.

Clearly we need to have restrictions in place, throughout our county, so that honeybee swarms are safely removed wherever and whenever possible.

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