One of Florida's largest citrus growers has been fined after a state investigation found it illegally sprayed pesticide that caused the death of millions of honeybees.It might be the first time a fine has been levied, but the $1,500 is angering local beekeepers and environmentalists:
For the last seven years, the nation's beekeepers have been plagued by a malady known as colony collapse disorder, in which bees disappear from their hives. Pesticides have been blamed as one of the causes.
The $1,500 state fine last week is believed to be the first time a Florida citrus grower was cited in connection with a bee kill.
Ben Hill Griffin Inc., headquartered in Frostproof, is so entwined with Florida culture that the University of Florida's football staduim is named for its founder. The citrus operation is run by the family's fourth generation.
That laughable penalty has environmentalists and beekeepers fuming in Crystal River, where the state found that citrus giant Ben Hill Griffin Inc. broke pesticide laws twice this year yet has levied only one tiny fine.Especially given reports that Ben Hill Griffin, Inc. pulls in $126 million annually and pesticides are a prime suspect in the collapse of millions of beehives over the last six years.
"Every four days, they were spraying seven or eight different types of chemicals," Crystal River beekeeper Randall Foti tells the Palm Beach Post. "A $1,500 fine is not much of a deterrent."