Plan Bee Central

“It’s better to BEE safe than to BEE sorry”

Reviews of “A Spring Without Bees”

Posted by schacker on June 4, 2008

Good review here–

The New Yorker’s Book Bench blog site

Thanks to Holly Rubino, Michael’s editor, who sent me it to me. –Barbara Schacker

New Heaven New Earth Review

Please feel free to click on comments and leave a link to new reviews as you find them!

8 Responses to “Reviews of “A Spring Without Bees””

  1. Bob Noel said

    I saw Michael’s video on youtube-

    For your information, Bald Faced Hornets are excellent fly catchers. They feed them to their young. Keep them where they are and you probably will not have any flies around.

    Bald Faced Hornets:
    “Hornets are beneficial predators that feed on other insects, particularly filth flies and blow flies.”

  2. schacker said

    Thanks, Bob. There are a few more videos out there now. Check them out!

  3. Thank you for this comment–I noticed that we had no flies at all after they moved in. In the early winter a woodpecker came and ate the left over stores and brood inside of the nest. Bears love to eat the nests too, but this one was too high up on the wall to for them to reach.

  4. schacker said

    This nice review was sent to me by Holly Rubino, my editor. From the Toronto Star. It is interesting to hear the Canadian view–Barbara

    Do worry, bees unhappy – living – Do worry, bees unhappy

    Two authors plead for habitat preservation as they contemplate the crisis in our hives

    August 26, 2008

    Patricia Robertson
    Special to the Star

    A Spring Without Bees: How Colony Collapse Disorder Has Endangered Our Food Supply

    by Michael Schacker
    The Lyons Press,
    292 pages, $27.50


    I live in a rural Saskatchewan town so anachronistically hooked on Roundup that almost every property bears the scorched earth of its handiwork. Our town administrator even pens a bossy column in our local newspaper every spring that urgently reminds us of our civic duty: kill all dandelions! Those who don’t maintain their lawns (and gardens) risk fines and scorn.

    My eco-friendly partner and I hand-weed our dandelions and seed wildflowers (weeds) right on our front lawn. During our first summer here, we were cited for non-compliant long grass and weeds and the town administrator threatened to give us a fine. We cut the taller grass in the back, but refused to buy pesticides or pull the wildflowers. Guess whose garden is abundant with native bees, birds, bats, butterflies and wasps?

    You’ve likely heard about the latest environmental crisis: colony collapse disorder (CCD). Bees are disappearing, and with them, our primary source of pollination. When we decimate honeybee and native bee populations, we also lose many of our fruit, vegetable and nut crops.

    Science writer and investigative journalist Michael Schacker’s stellar new book, A Spring Without Bees: How Colony Collapse Disorder Has Endangered Our Food Supply, asks the central question: what is causing bees to disappear?

    It’s not mites, cellphones or viruses, says Schacker. He sides with French scientists who found a link between CCD and the insecticide imidacloprid. Manufactured by Bayer CropScience, this toxic chemical is widely used to control pests on golf courses, commercial farms and suburban lawns and is an active ingredient in products for eliminating termites and ants.

    However, bees are highly sensitive to imidacloprid and can even be affected by micro-amounts present in the crops they pollinate.

    Schacker concludes that imidacloprid is the likely culprit in the death of 30 per cent of beehives in the United States. (CCD has yet to be officially reported in Canada. Schacker thinks our government may be in denial since he cites two British Columbia beekeepers with telltale signs of CCD.)

    Schacker says there’s a proven fix for CCD. When the French government stubbornly ignored the initial findings against imidacloprid, irate beekeepers protested and the use of that insecticide was suspended. When farmers stopped using imidacloprid on their crops, the bees that pollinated those same crops returned in great numbers. Colony collapse disorder averted.

    In the second half of the book, Schacker outlines his suggestions for making bee habitat: kick the pesticide habit, plant bee-friendly flowers and trees, build bee houses, farm and garden organically and use natural pest controls.

    More than 70 Canadian cities – Toronto among them – have bylaws in place that ban “cosmetic” pesticide use in residential and commercial landscaping. In April 2009, a province-wide ban on the sale and use of lawn and garden pesticides takes effect throughout Ontario. Unfortunately, the ban does not extend to non-organic commercial farmers.

    Lest you think my spray-happy town is the norm, Saskatchewan boasts the largest concentration of organic grain farmers on the continent. It’s also home to some marvellous natural history authors like Saskatoon resident Candace Savage. Her new book, Bees: Nature’s Little Wonders, is a timely celebration of these queenly insects and their importance to our ecosystem.

    Savage flits and buzzes around her fascinating subject matter with typical curiosity and flair. Although her whimsical take on our pollination pals lacks the urgency of A Spring Without Bees, it makes for a lovely, informative companion to the investigative tome. Bees is abundant with stunning photos and quaint heritage graphics, while bee-themed verse by poets like Lorna Crozier and Emily Dickinson add a nice literary touch.

    Savage concludes her bee book on a sad note when she contemplates the insects’ disappearance. Her ardent plea for the preservation of the bee is worth repeating:

    “What bees ask of us is simple: a world free from poisons and other stressors, with places where they can nest and a sweet, season-long supply of flowering plants. In return, they offer to teach us their deepest lesson yet. Much as a honeybee belongs to her colony, so we humans belong to the living community of the Earth. The wild lies all around us, and we draw it in like breath. Our lives are indivisible from the lives of insects.”

    Patricia Robertson is a Saskatchewan freelance writer.

    –Holly Rubino

    Editor for A Spring Without Bees, by Lyons Press

  5. Allan Brown said

    I really enjoyed reading this educational book from cover to cover. I do take issue with its Chapter Eight presentation of the subject of the Children’s Environmental Exposure Research Study (CHEERS) after beginning some followup reading at

  6. Regarding Allen Brown’s link to the page on snopes and his comment on the Chapter Eight’s explosure of the Children’s Environmental Exposure Research Study or CHEERS is shallow and misleading information. The Study, which was hastily abandoned when the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), an employee whistle-blowing group, became involved in an investigation of the proposed study, is explained in Chapter Eight in depth. Whether or not the study said they were planning to test toxic exposure infants and young children is meaningless because the EFFECT of the proposed study would have been just that. The thread at snopes uses by now the trite argument or “talking point” that environmentalists are trying to “scare” people about pesticides. Viewers will just have to read the book to find out why I am saying Brown’s comment and link is coming from the “dark” side or at least the “dim light bulb” side. The pesticides in this case were organophosphates, which are banned in England, Denmark and Sweden due to the danger of neurological damage to embryos, fetuses, infants and young children. The study would have exposed pregnant mothers to the pesticide as well as infants and young children and then test them for residues and illness in a short time frame. Neurological damage often does not show up until the child enters school 5-6 years later and is found to have a learning disability. Cancers can develop years later. 9,000 EPA scientists protested the study and stopped it. If the study had gone forward, it would have established a loop hole in the EPA’s protective regulations, allowing untested and unregulated use of pesticides in the future. The Chemical company’s lobbyists were behind the effort to allow the CHEERS testing program and are still trying to get these very same loopholes in place. If you don’t fully understand what I am saying, please read the chapter in the book. You can then check the documentation sited on this important piece of the whole picture. I thank Allen Brown for trying to downplay this issue, because it gives us the opportunity to bring to light what remains to be the real battle front in our efforts to stop neurotoxic poisoning of the environment.

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