How One 12-Year-Old Is Doing More To Save Threatened Bee Colonies Than Most States

Saving The Honeybees In Order To Save His Own Future: How On 12-Year-Old Is Fighting To Save Bees

Remember summers when you were 12? Depending on what era you grew up and where, it was likely a time of riding bikes, Little League, video games, family vacations and trips to the pool.

Nice work if you can get it.

But for one 12-year-old Boston-area boy, summers mean work, but it’s a work he loves and is passionate about: saving bees.

Sebastian Wright, who first began beekeeping in his hometown of Milton, Massachusetts when he was the ripe old age of eight, knows all about colony collapse, the phenomenon in which billions of bees die suddenly. Last year some 41 percent of U.S. bee colonies were suddenly wiped out with no clear explanation, although many suspect the heavy use of neonicotinoid pesticides taking a toll on the pollinators.

When Sebastian’s first colony died, he was upset, of course. But he was also determined to find out why–and do anything he could to prevent it from happening again.

“We think it was either from the pesticides or mosquito spraying, so I wanted to do something about it,” he said in an interview with WGBH News.

So young Sebastian founded what he calls Milton’s Billion Backyard Bee Project, which started with one new hive following the tragedy that took his first hive. Over the course of four years, that hive has expanded to some 13 hives throughout the town, with another 20 people on a waiting list to become part of the project. And although he does get a bit of help from his parents in managing all those hives, make no mistake: this is Sebastian’s baby.

And he has a clear agenda.

“I started this project to encourage more people to be beekeepers or host a hive, use less pesticides, or plant more bee-friendly flowers,” he said.

Beekeeping is hard work, even under the best of circumstances. You have to contend with mites, disease, habitat loss–and of course the scourge of ubiquitous pesticides. Neonicotinoids have continued to come under fire as a dangerous substance to the ongoing viability of bees–which are much more than a summer annoyance to picnickers who choose the wrong spot to set up.

Bees are responsible for pollinating up to a third of our food supply, a task that even global tentacle monster Monsanto isn’t up to. Without the delicate balance of honeybees and crops and pollen in place as it has been for millions of years, our food supply would be in grave danger.

That’s why its so heartening to see kids like Wright getting out in front of the problem. If future generations are to have honeybees as a viable species on this planet after we’re gone, it’s going to take fighters like him to make recalcitrant governments see the light on how dangerous the chemical companies really are.

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