Beautiful Beekeeping – Europe Bans Neonics As The Insecticide Debate Continues

Reprinted from today’s Forbes Magazine

The Politics of Bees Turns Science on its Head — Europe Bans Neonics While Local Beekeepers, Scientists Say Action is Precipitous

As Jon Entine of the Genetic Literacy Project reports, in a move they say will protect bees, the European Commission announced on Monday that it would impose a two-year ban on neonicotinoid insecticides, although a sharp divide remains whether politics or science is driving this policy change.

Although a vote by the 27 member states of the European Union to suspend the insecticides failed to reach a qualified majority—voting in the EU is weighted, and Britain, Italy and many other nations remain steadfastly opposed—EU rules now give final discretion to the commissioners. They have announced that the ban will likely become effective at the end of the year even though the scientific questions as to what has caused the bee deaths remain largely unanswered.

Farmers in Europe and elsewhere are almost universally opposed to even a temporary ban absent definitive real world research, calling it reckless. As they note, because bans exist on more toxic organophosphates—the chemicals that neonics replaced because of their more benign safety profile—there are no real alternatives.

Farmers scoff at activist claims that comprehensive spraying programs could suddenly be replaced by crop rotations or the use of natural pest predators—the tools of organic farmers who produce only a fraction of the volume required by commercial farms to feed growing populations. It’s estimated that without neonics or a suitable replacement, farmers could face losses estimated by one industry study as $5.78 billion per year in Europe alone—and many multiples of that if a ban is instituted in the United States and other major agricultural economies, with the costs passed on to consumers.

The EU legislators were pressed hard to vote for the ban by anti-chemical campaigners, who have maintained that periodic mass bee deaths over the past 8 years can be linked to increased use of neonicotinoids. Neonics, as they are often called, are a new class of systemic pesticide popular in the US, Australia, Europe and elsewhere to help corn, soy, cotton, canola and citrus farmers. They were adopted over the past 20 years as a less toxic replacement of organophosphate pesticides, which are known to kill bees and wildlife, and have been linked to health problems in workers.

Neonics replaced more toxic alternatives

Neonicotinoids are extremely effective. Applied to the soil, sprayed on the crop or used as a seed treatment, they are taken up in the plant, discouraging pests from wrecking havoc on crops. The seed treatment lowers the amount of pesticide used 10 to 20 fold, decreasing the need for open spraying of the plant, a genuine sustainability benefit. But the environmentalist community has coalesced around the belief that neonics, while causing no or limited harm in Australia, the canola fields in Canada, and elsewhere, is responsible for scattered colony collapses in Europe and the United States.

Although the EC announcement was not unexpected—a political decision by a legislative body guided by precautionary politics on science issues, from chemicals to natural gas to nuclear energy to biotechnology—it left unaddressed the question of the spate of bee deaths that have cropped up in some regions in recent years.

Neonics were phased in without incident in the 1990s. Only in 2004 — coincidentally with the spread of deadly varroa mites and their increasing resistance to the pesticides beekeepers use to keep them under control — did activists begin looking for alternative explanations. They first blamed GMOs. “There are many reasons given to the decline in Bees, but one argument that matters most is the use of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO)…,” argued the anti-globalization group Global Research. But as GMOs have gained favor with the science community, the focus of activist groups shifted and a new culprit was settled upon: neonicotinoids.

Over the past year, advocacy groups dramatically intensified their campaigns, targeting legislative bodies in Europe, which, under the precautionary principle of ‘better safe than sorry,’ often pass restrictive legislation even in the absence of persuasive empirical evidence. That’s what’s unfolding now.

The research on bee colony deaths is dicey—and often political. Last year, one study showed that bumblebees exposed to high doses of the neonic imidacloprid in the lab, then released to forage in the field, had sharply reduced colony growth rates and produced 85 percent fewer queens to found new colonies. A later study savaged those findings, demonstrating that the scientist had failed to adequately account for the birth of new bees, a major oversight, rendering the conclusions dubious at best. In another study, more than 30 percent of free-ranging honeybees whose brains were doused with the neonic thiamethoxam—which is not the way bees encounter the chemical in the real world— got confused, failing to return to the hive. The issue took a sharp turn in January when the European Food Safety Authority issued three studies raising questions about the potential role of neonics in this latest wave of bee deaths. The studies did not link the pesticides to the collapse of whole bee colonies, but were still relied upon by EFSA for its recommendation of a precautionary ban.

Real world experience points to mites, colony management as more likely culprits

Standing opposed to these lab results are provocative real world case studies in Canada, the UK and Australia. Canola is grown commercially mostly on the prairies in Canada, the largest single producer of canola in the world with more than 50,000 producers and 16 million acres. It’s a nutritionally rich crop for bees. Approximately 300,000 colonies harvest open pollinated canola. Although neonicotinoids are widely used to protect canola from pests, Canadian bee populations have been largely unaffected and produce around 50 million pounds of canola honey. An Ontario field study funded by Bayer appears to back up the real life evidence challenging the activist doomsday scenario. It found no difference in colony health between hives exposed to neonics and those that weren’t, in real life conditions.

“The doses the bees are exposed to [in lab studies] are far above what a realistic field dose exposure would be,” says Dr. Cynthia Scott-Dupree, head of the Ontario study. Canadian canola farmers say they have had 10 years of large-scale use of neonics on canola with no observed ill effect.

Britain’s rapeseed crop, which is similar to canola but has a high acid content and is generally produced for animal feed, has not experienced serious bee losses either—which is one of the reasons the government opposed the ban. The UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) reevaluated the existing research earlier this year, concluding, “The risk to bee populations from neonics, as they are currently used, is low.” The DEFRA study noted that oilseed rape (OSR) “requires insect pollinators to support its productivity. The fact that OSR treated with neonicotinoids has been a productive crop for over a decade in the UK is itself evidence that pollinator populations, including bees, are not being reduced by the presence of neonicotinoids.” The EC ignored the DEFRA report.

British beekeepers also vocally oppose the ban. “Whilst the [British Bee Keepers Association] is concerned about the possible damage that these substances may be inflicting on pollinators, it notes that unequivocal field based studies have not been conducted and the evidence is incomplete. … [T]he authors of the report still appear to be unable to demonstrate deleterious effects of neonicotinoids on honey bees managed by beekeepers in the UK and we renew our call for further investigations to reassure us that these products can be used safely with regard to honey bees.”

Bee experts—as opposed to anti-chemical campaigners that see banning neonics as a key piece of their overall advocacy strategy—are increasingly wary of this myopic focus on neonics. Hannah Nordhaus, author of the Beekeeper’s Lament, and widely regarded as a sober voice in this debate,weighed in after a prior article I had written for Forbes raising similar issues:

Great piece, Jon. CCD, as a diagnosis was first identified in 2006, but there have been mysterious disappearances of bees periodically since the nineteenth century (and well before…. Some occurrences did sound similar to CCD, though CCD is such a vague and difficult diagnosis (every time a bee dies these days someone calls it CCD) that it’s impossible to know. Nonetheless, it is true that there have been mass disappearances well before neonics ever appeared on the scene. Bees die from all sorts of things, and especially from varroa mites.

As for the Harvard study [the so-called ‘silver bullet’ research cited by anti-neonic activists]… it is, of all the studies on neonics and bee deaths that have come out, arguably the worst–”embarrassing” was the word I heard from scientists I interviewed about it. Peer reviewed, I suppose, but in a journal no one in the entomology world had ever heard of when it came out. … It makes sense to me that neonics, as persistent and systemic as they are, could very well hurt bees and other pollinators at sub-lethal levels, but the science just isn’t convincing yet, to me anyway, and as Jon points out, there are places where they use neonics where the bees are doing fine (though I have gotten some feedback from people about the Australian situation — they claim beekeepers there are losing bees but simply aren’t reporting it, and that most beekeepers there are in the bush, not located near farm crops that could be treated with neonics).

Nordhaus’ skepticism is matched by Randy Oliver, who runs the popular scientificbeekeeping.com website, also manages a 500 colony migratory operation in California—which is ground zero for the anti neonics movement. He writes regularly for the American Bee Journal and other publications, and believes, like most bee experts and smaller beekeepers, that there has been a rush to judgment in solely targeting neonics.

Scientific Beekeeping’s Randy Oliver weighs in

Oliver has posted a comprehensive analysis of what he believes is behind this past winter and spring’s upsurge in bee deaths. He lays the blame squarely on weather and bee management practices, which correlate more closely with bee survival rates than does the use of neonics. In a section titled “The Lynch Mob,” Oliver discusses the media and activists penchant to look for simple solutions regardless of the facts. “Despite the fact that a wide range of bee-toxic insecticides are being applied (often during bloom) to corn, soy, sunflowers, alfalfa, cotton and other major crops, if you Google anything about insecticide use, you’ll quickly find that the blogosphere focuses only upon the putative link between single class of insecticides—the neonicotinoids—and the decline of pollinators.”

“People look at me incredulously when I point out there is zero firm evidence to date that neonic seed treatments are a serious problem,” he adds. “But the notion that all honey bee problems are caused by an insidious new insecticide resonates with a distrustful public, and has firmly established itself as ‘common knowledge.’ But repeating something does not make it true!” Oliver then outlines the variety of likely contributors to bee deaths—the kind of comprehensive and nuanced review absent not only from advocacy group analyses but also from many government agencies, the EC included.

There is also a fascinating political backstory within the beekeeper community, particularly in the US. There seems to be a split between local beekeepers, which for the most part don’t see neonics as the primary culprit and the larger, more commercial industrial outfits, some of which are notorious for their sloppy bee management practices. In particular, they are known to liberally douse their bees with anti-virus chemicals whether they need them or not—all of which means that colony management and overuse of anti-virals could explain a lot of what’s going on.

Bee management practices go a long way toward explaining the spike in bee deaths in California recently. It’s estimated that 1.6 million (out of 2.5 million) of all US hives are trucked to the West Coast each year, mostly to pollinate the almond crop, which dramatically increases external stressors from travel, viruses and parasites like varroa. That’s where most of the problems are, one beekeeper wrote to me recently:

“Every winter for years, beekeepers have been taking their hives to California for the biggest pollination event in the world. The majority of the country’s bees are placed cheek to jowl in an environment that consists of one flowering crop: almonds. Why do they do this? To provide food for the nation? No, they get cash for every hive they can bring. The almond growers are feeding the nation, then? Nope. 70% of the crop is sold overseas. So, the beekeepers cram their hives together, risking the transmission of whatever viral infections they have, and then they haul them back to their home state, possibly to bring infections to homegrown hives, which are never trucked about. And to add insult to injury, the beekeepers are now suing the EPA, probably hoping to make a case for some huge subsidy (to pay their trucking costs?). If people really cared about bees, they would purchase honey and support local beekeepers.”

In a bizarre political twist, in their zeal to target neonics or any chemical for that matter, the Center for Food Safety and other advocacy groups have forged pacts with some of the most notorious and worst performing commercial beekeeping operations, who believe they can ride the activist outrage to a large legal settlement. They claim the government authorized the use of neonics without proper evaluation—which considering the years of evaluation that led to its introduction, and the broad embrace of the product by both farmers and beekeepers, is ludicrous. The suit is a cynical act of expediency in which science is sacrificed to tort politics.

The settled narrative—blame it on neonics—at this early juncture conjures up thoughts of a classic small town murder case where there is a clamor for instant ‘justice’. That translates into targeting the most vulnerable suspect, selecting and discarding whatever evidence fits the theory and then holding kangaroo court. The accused is then banished and everyone goes home, feeling smug that the town is safe. They just don’t want to think about the problem anymore. Just string ‘em up and call it a day.

That might have worked in small town Oklahoma in the 1850s, but its not any way to do sober science, especially when so many jobs are linked to such a catastrophic decision—regardless of what the evidence eventually might show. But when the research comes in and the complicated facts emerge, suddenly we’ll have an unmanageable environmental and an economic crisis on our hands, all because we just didn’t have the patience to do some basic scientific legwork. That’s scandalous.

The Other Side Of The Bee/Pesticide Controversy…

I firmly believe in presenting both sides of every controversy, even controversies concerning my beloved bees. This is an excellent article presenting the other side.

Disclosure -The author Jon Entine is a friend of mine. (He didn’t think it was funny when I suggested he dress up as an ear of Genetically Modified Corn for Halloween. I still think that’s funny…)

I still think this would have made a great Halloween costume...

I still think this would have made a great Halloween costume…

But that doesn’t necessarily mean I think he’s right. He is thoughtful though, and not afraid to take the unpopular side of a hot issue.

This is reprinted from Forbes.

4/11/2013 @ 8:52PM |8,686 views

Science Collapse Disorder — The Real Story Behind Neonics And Mass Bee Deaths

Colony Collapse Disorder—it sounds catastrophic and frightening. The Genetic Literacy Project’Jon Entine separates fact from fiction.

It’s estimated that over the past five years, some 30 percent of bees in the United States have either disappeared or failed to survive to pollinate blossoms in the spring. That’s about 50% more than the rate expected. The problem is direr in some other countries. InSpain, recent data indicate a loss close to 80% of beehives. On the other hand, in Canada and Australia, there is no sign of Colony Collapse Disorder.

What may be causing the die-offs and why the dramatic disparities from one region to another? Scientists have a number of hypotheses but the activist community has coalesced around one explanation: They blame it on neonicotinoids, also known as neonics, which are the widest used class of insecticide ever.

“It’s time to ban dangerous neonicotinoid pesticides,” declares Mother Earth News. “Bees need help now! Time to up the ante,” declares the Pesticide Action Network announcing its suit against the Environmental Protection Agency. “EPA should cancel all uses of neonics where they can lead to harm for bees and other beneficial insects, and chemical manufacturers like Bayer and Syngenta that make neonics should use their resources to develop less harmful alternatives instead of defending the neonics,” writes Jennifer Sass of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Birds, bats and insects all pollinate flowering plants, but the most celebrated pollinator is the honeybee, and for good reason. United States commercial beekeepers take millions of bee hives on the road each year to pollinate blueberries and papaya, almonds and apples, and a cornucopia of other fruits, vegetables and nuts. Close to one third of our food supply is linked to pollination. Without the bee our diet would be less nutritious and less tasty. Bee die offs are a serious issue and need to be evaluated. But the question remains: are neonicotinoids the culprit?

Fingering neonics

Neonics are a new class of systemic pesticide popular in the US, Australia, Europe and elsewhere to help corn, soy, cotton and canola farmers. They were adopted over the past 20 years as a less toxic replacement of organophosphate pesticides, which are known to kill bees and wildlife, and have been linked to health problems in workers. By universal agreement, neonicotinoids are extremely effective. Applied to the soil, sprayed on the crop or used as a seed treatment, they eventually reach the pollen and nectar, which is ingested by insects, discouraging pests from wrecking havoc on crops. The seed treatment lowers the amount used 10 to 20 fold, decreasing the need for open spraying of the plant, a genuine sustainability benefit.

Neonics were phased in without incident in the 1990s. But an age-old problem in the bee world—a periodic and unpredictable dramatic rise in bee deaths in one region or another—reemerged in 2004. Bee death rates approached 60% in California Beekeepers called it the vampire mite scare because of its likely link to varroa mites—parasites that feed on the bodily fluids of bees.

The explanatory narrative began to change in 2006, when new waves of bee deaths were reported around the world. Anti-biotechnology activists blamed GMOs.  “There are many reasons given to the decline in Bees, but one argument that matters most is the use of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) and “Terminator Seeds” that are presently being endorsed by governments and forcefully utilized as our primary agricultural needs of survival,” argued the anti-globalization group Global Research, in what amounted to a rhetorical and circumstantial argument. But as GMOs have gained favor with the science community, the focus of activist groups shifted and a new culprit was identified: neonicotinoids.

Over the past few months, CBS NewsNPR and Dan Rather have run powerful segments and the popular media in general has cheerleaded a recent lawsuit spearheaded by the Center for Food Safety and other anti-chemical groups demanding that the Environmental Protection Agency ban the insecticide. In less than a month, the New York Times ran a front-page article and editorialized twice on the subject, dismissing what it called “manufacturers’ bland assurances” about its safety and all but calling for a ban.

History raises questions about the almost exclusive focus on neonics to explain the regional bee crisis. Periodic occurrences resembling what has come to be known as bee Colony Collapse Disorder have been documented as far back as 1869. In the last half century, the domesticated honeybee population has declined by about 50 percent, with incidents common well before the introduction of neonics, which was hailed by environmentalists because of their comparatively modest environmental footprint. The term CCD was originally used to describe the phenomenon when worker bees suddenly and mysteriously disappeared. The term, with its alarmist ring, was co-opted by activists in the mid 2000s to describe a new development—mass bee deaths.

The research on bee colony deaths is dicey—and often political. The science based view of this issue took a sharp turn in January when the European Food Safety Authority issued three studies raising questions about the potential role of neonics in this latest wave of bee deaths. The studies did not link the pesticides to the collapse of whole bee colonies, but did raise enough issues to lead to a vote last month for a 2-year precautionary ban by the European Commission. The ban was blocked, temporarily, by Germany, Britain and seven other countries, citing evidence that neonics were not the sole or likely the primary culprit, their impact still unclear. The EC plans an appeal.

Last year, one study showed that bumblebees exposed to high doses of the neonic imidacloprid in the lab, then released to forage in the field,had sharply reduced colony growth rates and produced 85 percent fewer queens to found new colonies. In another study, more than 30 percent of free-ranging honeybees whosebrains were doused with the neonic thiamethoxam—which is not the way bees encounter the chemical in the real world— got confused, failing to return to the hive.

Real world contradictions

The results were so dramatic—and so contradictory of real life experience of some beekeepers in Canada, Europe and Australia who use neonics and where many bee colonies are thriving—that the United Kingdom’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) decided to reevaluate existing research. The agency pointed to the problem with much of the lab based data—it measures doses and application methods that farmers don’t use. “The risk to bee populations from neonics, as they are currently used, is low.” DEFRA concluded in March. “Laboratory-based studies demonstrating sub-lethal effects on bees from neonics did not replicate realistic conditions, but extreme scenarios.. … While this assessment cannot exclude rare effects of neonicotinoids on bees in the field, it suggests that effects on bees do not occur under normal circumstances. Consequently, it supports the view that the risk to bee populations from neonicotinoids, as they are currently used, is low,” the study concluded.

Farmers are almost universally opposed to even a temporary ban absent definitive real world research, calling it reckless. As they note, because of the ban on organophosphates, there are no real alternatives to neonics, which everyone agrees have been extremely effective. Insecticides are used for a reason: to kill pests and make our food safer to eat. Without neonics or a suitable replacement, farmers could face losses estimated by one industry study as $5.78 billion per year in Europe alone—and many multiples of that if a ban is instituted in the United States and other major agricultural economies, with the costs passed on to consumers.

Understandably alarmed at the economic implications to consumers and to their bottom lines, Syngenta and Bayer, the two primary manufacturers of the chemicals, have proposed a plan to accelerate bee health research. They’ve also proposed adding new flowering margins around fields to provide pesticide-free bee habitats and monitoring for the presence of neonics in crops.

Industry is concerned as to what they see as a ‘rush to judgment’—and should a “temporary” ban is instituted it will be difficult to unring the precautionary bell regardless of what new evidence might show. They point to real world contradictions that suggest that pathogens, parasites and habitat loss, which has been the driver of CCD for more than a century before the introduction of insecticides, are the likely prime cause this time as well.

Canada, the UK and Australia all provide provocative real world case studies. Canola is grown commercially mostly on the prairies in Canada, the largest single producer of canola in the world with more than 50,000 canola producers and 16 million acres. It’s a nutritionally rich crop for bees. Some 80% of Canada’s honey crop is from canola, amounting to 50 million pounds per year of Grade No 1 white honey. Approximately 300,000 colonies harvest open pollinated canola.

Despite the fact that neonicotinoids are widely used in Canada to protect canola from pests, Canadian bee populations have been largely unaffected and produce around 50 million pounds of canola honey. A large-scale Ontario field study funded by Bayer appears to back up the real life evidence challenging the activist doomsday scenario. It found no difference in colony health between hives exposed to neonics and those that weren’t, in real life conditions. “The doses the bees are exposed to [in lab studies] are far above what a realistic field dose exposure would be,” says Dr. Cynthia Scott-Dupree, head of the Ontario study. Canadian  canola farmers say they have had 10 years of large scale use of neonics on canola with no observed ill effect.

Britain’s rapeseed crop, which is similar to canola but has a high acid content and is generally produced for animal feed, has not experienced serious bee losses either. The DEFRA study noted that oilseed rape (OSR) “requires insect pollinators to support its productivity. The fact that OSR treated with neonicotinoids has been a productive crop for over a decade in the UK is itself evidence that pollinator populations, including bees, are not being reduced by the presence of neonicotinoids.”

Varroa mites: The real culprit?

Australia presents the most striking dilemma for those isolating their attacks on neonics. On a per crop basis, it is one of the world’s heaviest users of the pesticide—and has among the healthiest bee colonies in the world. Government records indicate there has not been even oneadverse experience report from either the public or beekeepers concerning the use of neonics. The other thing they don’t see in Australia—but we do see everywhere else in the world where CCD is claimed—is the Varroa mite, the culprit in the 2005/06 bee death march.

While not deadly in themselves, these parasites act as a vector, attaching to honeybees and appearing to be “both a disseminator and activator of a number of bee viruses,” according to a report on honeybee disease in Europe by the Food and Environment Research Agency.  In countries experiencing bee decline, varroa is a feared and growing presence among beekeepers—even or especially if neonicotinoids are absent. For example, in upland areas of Switzerland where the pesticide is not used, bee colony populations are under significant pressure from the mites; and in France, declines in the bee population in mountainous areas (where neonics are uncommon) are similar to those in agricultural areas (where neonics are widely used).

At one point in Dan Rather’s report, the President of the California Beekeepers Association, John Miller, opens a hive and picks out a bee with a red dot on its back. “That’s a varroa mite,” he explains. “That is Satan incarnate. That is the central challenge of beekeeping globally.” The spreading problem of disease itself is compounded by the desperate efforts of beekeepers to extinguish the mites and other pests by dousing their hives with miticides and antibiotics, which would increase if there were no approved and effective pesticides. As Miller says, “You can imagine how hard it is to kill a bug on a bug. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.”

Bee deaths are not to be taken lightly. But the technology-intensive agricultural industry certainly provides an easy target for those who want to “do something yesterday,” without any regard to balancing costs and benefits and regardless of the long-term consequences. As the British Bee Keeper Association recently warned, rushing to ban neonics, when the evidence remains contradictory, could well do more damage than good, as other pesticides, some known to be more harmful to bees, would of necessity be reintroduced. The EPA is now addressing the issue, sending a research team to California where more than 1.6 million hives are needed every spring. Let science—and scientists—do their work.

More on genetics and science literacy at the Genetic Literacy Project

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Jon Entine, executive director of the Genetic Literacy Project, is a senior fellow at the Center for Health & Risk Communicationand STATS (Statistical Assessment Service) at George Mason University.

The Year Of The Bat

Statement by Dr. Merlin Tuttle regarding Year of the Bat Celebration

I’m delighted to serve as Honorary Ambassador for the 2011-2012 Year of the Bat campaign and wish the very best of success to all who participate. Education regarding the essential roles of bats in maintaining healthy ecosystems and human economies has never been more important. Bats are found nearly everywhere and approximately 1,200 species account for almost a quarter of all mammals. Nevertheless, in recent decades their populations have declined alarmingly. Many are now endangered, though they provide invaluable services that we cannot afford to lose.

Simply because they are active only at night and difficult to observe and understand, bats rank among our planet’s most misunderstood and intensely persecuted mammals. Those that eat insects are primary predators of the vast numbers that fly at night, including ones that cost farmers and foresters billions of dollars in losses annually. As such bats decline, demands for dangerous pesticides grow, as does the cost of growing crops like rice, corn and cotton.

Fruit and nectar-eating bats are equally important in maintaining whole ecosystems of plant life. In fact, their seed dispersal and pollination services are crucial to the regeneration of rain forests which are the lungs and rain makers of our planet.

Many of the plants which depend on such bats are additionally of great economic value, their products ranging from timber and tequila to fruits, spices, nuts and even natural pesticides.

Scary media stories notwithstanding, bats are remarkably safe allies. Where I live, in Austin, Texas, 1.5 million bats live in crevices beneath a single downtown bridge. When they began moving in, public health officials warned that they were diseased and dangerous–potential attackers of humans. Yet, through Bat Conservation International, we educated people to simply not handle them, and 30 years later, not a single person has been attacked or contracted a disease. Fear has been replaced by love as these bats catch 15 metric tons of insects nightly and attract 12 million tourist dollars each summer.

It is now well demonstrated that people and bats can share even our cities at great mutual benefit. As we will show through varied Year of the Bat activities, bats are much more than essential. They’re incredibly fascinating, delightfully likeable masters of our night skies.