The most recent update that I have received from our Ag Commissioners is that as of a week ago, 110 properties have been treated out of a total of 286 properties within the Goleta treatment area. Not all properties had citrus. There have been a total of 106 properties that refused treatment.
Been another crazy beezy day!
I went up to the treatment area in Goleta this morning at about 8am, and just missed the first residence treatment. I did however speak with the homeowner, who told me that he had no idea that these treatments were optional. He thought they were mandatory, and ironically, he has been meaning to call us about a colony removal out of his backyard cox cable box, and plans on moving them into a hive so he can learn beekeeping. I am meeting him next week.
I went over with the CDFA crew to the next house, introduced myself and was given permission to enter the backyard and take photos by the homeowner (again, she had no idea about the opt out option).
I waited until the CDFA crew was just getting ready to treat when I pointed out the fact that bees were on the first tree, and asked them if they knew that they were not allowed to treat when bees were present. They did not, but called the team leader over. He immediately made a phone call, to whom I later found out was the County Ag Commissioner, Cathy Fisher.
He made several other calls, and a little while later, Cathy showed up along with 2 CHP patrol units. I later found out it was CDFA that called in the troops to "keep the peace".
That was not necessary, but they continued to follow me on two more subsequent home visits, and even followed around Goleta while I was out looking to see if there were more crews.
She confirmed to the team leader that if bees were present, they were not to treat, although after she left, and after I questioned them at the next house about bees foraging, both native and honeybee, they went ahead and treated anyway.
I ended up getting a bunch of photos, and it sounds like we will back on the front page again tomorrow.
The California Department of Food and Agriculture, in cooperation with Santa Barbara County Agricultural Commissioner’s Office is planning on applying a highly toxic pesticide (Merit) in your backyard in an attempt to slow down or stop the Asian Citrus Psyllid from destroying our citrus trees. There are alternative treatments available, but they have determined that this systemic pesticide that can continue to be toxic for years, is what needs to be used. An Open House Meeting is scheduled for Monday, April 15, 2013 at the Goleta Valley Community Center (5679 Hollister Avenue) at 5:30pm. Please let them know that you would like to OPT OUT of their planned treatments by calling: CDFA Pest Hotline @ (800) 491-1899 There are several Environmentally Friendly Alternatives available. The USDA has published this document offering just a few of these alternatives, and SBBA is committed to assisting with many more: http://www.ars.usda.gov/research/publications/publications.htm?seq_no_115=275704 Please visit www.sbba.org for more information Merit: "This product is highly toxic to bees exposed to direct treat- ment or residues on blooming crops or weeds. Do not apply this product or allow it to drift to blooming crops or weeds if bees are visiting the treatment area." Applied by soil drenching.
The Plight of the Bees is very complex:
Please take a minute to vote on how you would like to see the State deal with the Asian Citrus Psyllid here in Santa Barbara. We know how they are dealing with it everywhere else in California...
For Immediate Release: March 29, 2013
Contact: Todd Bebb, Vice President, Santa Barbara Beekeepers Association
Local Bees in Danger - California Department of Food and Agriculture Plans Wide Scale Pesticide Application in Santa Barbara and Goleta
In response to the discovery of 7 Asian Citrus Psyllid (ACP) in residential citrus trees in Santa Barbara and Goleta, the California Department of Food & Agriculture (CDFA) is planning a wide scale pesticide application, possibly affecting thousands of residential properties. This application follows on the heels of similar sprayings throughout the State, and most recently, Santa Maria.
According to the CDFA, ACP can carry and transmit a devastating bacterial disease called Huanglongbing (HLB). It should be noted that HLB has not been detected in any of the samples, but because of risk to the citrus industry, the state has been aggressively monitoring and attempting to control the pest. Few alternatives to this treatment exist, though netting citrus trees is an option that organic growers have used successfully.
The three pesticides intended to be applied including Imidacloprid, a neonicotinoid, all are labeled by the manufacturer to be “highly toxic to bees exposed to direct treatment or residues on blooming crops or weeds.” Dozens of independent studies on Imidacloprid, as well as other neonicotinoid pesticides confirm impacts on bees and colony health including colony collapse disorder (CCD). (see NY Times link below)
As many citrus trees are currently in bloom in the intended treatment area where local bees are foraging, an application of these insecticides poses an extremely high risk of poisoning, injuring, and potentially exterminating local honeybee colonies.
Recently, 18 beehives collapsed in nearby Montecito. Penn State University tested samples of the comb and honey which showed the presence of a number of pesticides. Penn State Senior Extension Associate, Maryann Frazier remarked, “Honey bees across the country are being exposed to a great diversity and sometimes high levels of pesticides. While the evidence associated with the Montecito die-off is not conclusive, the symptoms of colony deaths and detections of low levels of pesticides toxic to honey bees are suspicious and cause for concern.”
Just this past week, several beekeepers and public interest groups filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding the “conditional registration” of neonicotinoids, and labeling deficiencies. (see PANNA link below)
CDFA will be sending notifications to homeowners within the treatment area within 72 hours of a scheduled public hearing. Treatments could commence within 48 hours after this meeting. We will let you know when and where as soon as we have this information.
Residents DO have the option of requesting to opt out of treatment and should inquire further.
Sign up at: http://www.sbba.org/contact.html
(CDFA ACP Treatment Opt Out Form)
Honeybees are responsible for the pollination of at least 95 kinds of crops. Local beekeepers and supporters of beekeeping are highly committed to providing safe, healthy, and pesticide-free environments for honeybees, as well as other important pollinators.
“Honeybees and other pollinators are getting hit hard, but there are things we can do to reduce the threats to them,” said SBBA President, Paul Cronshaw.
Voluntary monitoring and treatments using less invasive and harmful methods by owners of Citrus Trees are encouraged.
The USDA has published this document about treatments:
The CDFA has published this one about ACP/HLB Facts and Identification:
About the Santa Barbara Beekeepers Association: The Santa Barbara Beekeeper's Association is dedicated to the promotion and advancement of beekeeping through best management practices, the education and mentoring of people about honey bees and beekeeping, and increasing public awareness of environmental concerns affecting honey bees. For more information or to donate, go to: http://www.sbba.org/