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Honoring the Worker Bees

Beekeepers political activism rewarded

Beekeepers lobbied at the Maryland Statehouse earlier this year for passage of the Pollinator Protection Act.

Buzzing through the halls of the Maryland Statehouse during the 2016 legislative session were some distinctive lobbyists: beekeepers, dressed in full regalia, advocating for a Maryland ban on home use of bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides.
    Now, the Maryland League of Conservation Voters is honoring the beekeepers for their role in Maryland’s passage of the Pollinator Protection Act, the first law of its kind in the nation. At an awards dinner on October 13, the League presented the Central Maryland Beekeepers Association its John V. Kabler Memorial Award for commitment to grassroots action.
    “The beekeepers were part of the Smart on Pesticides Coalition that worked for passage of the neonicotinoid ban,” said Karla Raettig, the League’s executive director.
    “They were a persistent force this year. They came dressed in their beekeeper outfits. They kept the issue in legislators’ minds.”
    “Central Maryland Beekeepers Association is hugely surprised and honored to be recognized with this prestigious award,” said Bonnie Raindrop, legislative chair of the association.
    “We are newcomers to environmental activism. It has given us a tremendous lift,” she said.
    Raettig called the beekeepers an unusual choice for the award.
    “It was nice to be able to highlight an organization that you would not normally associate with policy change,” she said.
    The beekeepers plan to continue their grassroots activism.
    “We have huge concerns about the impacts of mosquito spraying programs on bees and all beneficial insects,” Raindrop said.