[This article also appeared as a letter to the editor in The Times, June 18, 2017.]
Mike Pence’s wife Karen made a big show of announcing the new beehive installed on the grounds of their government residence in Washington (AP News, June 6). While the move may seem noble—a “great example” of what people can do to help honeybees, according to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue—really it’s just another example of Republican hypocrisy masquerading as responsible environmental stewardship.
As local beekeepers, we heartily agree that yes, we need to protect the bees, and yes we need more well-managed hives. But cheap symbolic actions like this fall flat when one considers how eager the Trump/Pence regime is to destroy the kinds of environmental protections that would actually “help” the honeybees now and in the future.
The AP article notes that bee colony decline may be caused by factors “ranging from stress caused by parasites to poor nutrition to lack of interest in caring for them.” The article fails to mention other factors perhaps less savory to Karen Pence and her husband Mike, such as air pollution, use and misuse of pesticides, mono-crop agriculture and invasive species.
So while Mrs. Pence wants to celebrate the “pollinating power” of bees—crucial to the farming industry that dominates her home state of Indiana—she has nothing to say about how unchecked agricultural practices may be largely responsible for colony devastation.
If we really want to help the bees, we need to commit to sustainable agricultural practices that will benefit our planet for generations to come, which is far from likely under Trump and Pence.
In short, don’t be fooled by this fake show of compassion and concern. If the Pences and other Republicans really cared, they would lobby aggressively for progressive environmental protections, rejecting at every turn the Trump administration’s efforts to gut the EPA and turn the clock back on climate legislation.
A big yes to the bees! But enough already with this bald-faced right-wing hypocrisy.
8 Point Farm, Ottawa