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EPA begins hearing from public on plan to restrict pesticides harmful to bees

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency began accepting public comments Friday on a plan to restrict the use of pesticides that are toxic to pollinating bees, according to a statement from the federal agency.

“Large numbers of bees may be exposed to pesticide spray when growers contract with beekeepers to provide pollination services,” the EPA reported. “EPA believes that strong regulatory measures should be in place to protect bees used for pollination services.”

Scientists over the last decade documented the loss of substantial bee populations due to colony collapse disorder, which occurs when too many bees fail to return to the hive and it dies. Invasive mites, rampant pesticide use and nutritional deficiencies are a few of the suspected culprits that lead to the colony collapse.

Nearly one-third of all of the foods consumed in the United States are produced from bee pollination, according to estimates by scientists.

The restrictions proposed by the EPA would prohibit applications of the pesticides “when crops are in bloom and bees are under contract for pollination services.”

“These restrictions are expected to reduce the likelihood of live levels of pesticide exposure and mortality for fees providing pollination services,” the EPA statement said.

Comments on the proposal can be made by visiting at docket EPA-HQ-OPP-2014-0818.