Dear Bonnie,

Thank you for contacting me with your concerns about declining honey bee populations.  It was good to hear from you.

As you may know, honey bees are a vital part of our nation’s crop production because they pollinate a variety of important fruit, vegetable, and specialty crops.  However, in 2006, beekeepers on the East Coast began reporting large declines in their honey bee populations.  Adult honey bees stopped returning to their hive, which eventually led to the collapse of many colonies.  Scientists are calling these dramatic and currently unexplained population crashes Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).  Recent data shows beekeepers in 35 states, including Washington, have been affected by CCD.

I understand the importance of maintaining healthy honey bee populations.  Washington state apple producers depend on honey bees for over 90 percent of their crop pollination.  As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I have supported funding increases for the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) research divisions to work on CCD.

In April 2013 the European Commission voted to place severe restrictions on the use of certain pesticides for two years, citing a link between the use of these pesticides and declining honey bee populations.  The US Environmental Protection Agency and the USDA released a report on May 2, 2013 highlighting the need for more research on the links between pesticide exposure in the field and Colony Collapse Disorder.  Please know that I am monitoring this matter closely, and will continue to support research efforts to help us address this important issue.

Rest assured, I will continue work with my colleagues in the Senate to address CCD.   I will certainly keep your thoughts in mind should legislation related to this issue come before the Senate during the 114th Congress.

If you would like to know more about my work in the Senate, please feel free to sign up for my weekly updates at  Again, thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with me.


Patty Murray

United States Senator

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