A large, well-known Florida citrus grower has been hit with a $1,500 for intentionally killing millions of bees:
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.
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.
It might be the first time a fine has been levied, but the $1,500 is angering local beekeepers and environmentalists:
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.
"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."
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.