Company Kills Millions of Bees, Fined Just $1,500

Care2 has featured a lot of stories on the devastation of colony collapse disorder and the numerous dangerous consequences of allowing bees to die. Although pesticides seem to be a pretty obvious cause of the problem, authorities have been hesitant to assign blame to any potential offenders.

Finally, however, the government caught a company carelessly killing millions of bees and cracked down on it accordingly… to the tune of a minuscule $1,5000.

After years of unproven allegations, Ben Hill Griffin Inc., a generations-old citrus growing business in Frostproof, Florida, is the first in the state to be found guilty of wrongful spraying. On at least four occasions, Ben Hill Griffin Inc. sprayed illegal pesticides with the intention of killing psyllids, insects that can ravage citrus crops. However, the Imidacloprid present in the banned insecticide also destroyed millions of bees in the area, as well.

The maximum fine allowed for such infractions is $10,000 per incident, but even that amount seems like too small of a deterrent. The fact that the Bureau of Compliance Monitoring decided to charge only $1,500 total out of the legally permitted $40,000 shows how frivolous the oversight agency takes the matter, as well. Florida law stipulates that the Bureau can lower fines when illegal pesticide use results in minimal harm, but it’s hard to fathom how millions of dead honeybees can be considered minimal harm.

The laughable fine also demonstrates that Florida agriculture officials are siding against the beekeepers. Barry Hart, who has been a beekeeper for nearly 30 years, watched millions of his bees die after coming in contact with Ben Hill Griffin’s land. Hart earns a living from honey production and says he took a $150,000 hit as a result of the extermination of his bees. Though he’s glad there’s finally a case where the government is holding farms responsible for pesticide misuse, Hart acknowledges, “$1,500 ain’t nothing to the grove people.”

After witnessing millions of his own bees dying as well, fellow beekeeper Randall Foti did some investigating of his own. A veteran with more than four decades of beekeeping experience, Foti located empty containers of the illegal pesticide on the grove’s property. Suffering an estimated $250,000 in losses from this illicit spraying, Foti reported his finding to the authorities.

The discovery of this evidence was critical to finally linking a big farm to insecticide violations. Though local beekeepers have filed a number of similar allegations over the past few years, officials claim they never had the concrete proof necessary to hold businesses responsible.

Considering how “impossible” it seems to prosecute bee-killing businesses, that’s all the more reason that governing officials should have made an example of Ben Hill Griffin, Inc. By fining the company an insignificant amount, authorities have done nothing to discourage fellow farmers from employing similar illegal pesticide spraying practices.

It’s comparable to the government assigning $10,000 fines to big banks for committing acts of fraud that allowed them to profit hundreds of millions of dollars. At some point, executives consider the fines a minor business expense that was essentially a non-risk.

Unfortunately, the consequences of these pesticide violations aren’t simply a matter of money; it’s absurd to think that the destruction of the environment and our food supply can be valued at $1,500.

Sign the petition to tell Florida to hold illegal pesticide sprayers more responsible for their crimes against not only the law, but also nature.


Jim Ven
Jim Venabout a month ago

thanks for sharing.

Jim Ven
Jim Ven11 months ago

thanks for the article.

Herbert E.
Herbert E.3 years ago

signed of course. this company should be fined at least one $ per bee, not less.

B A R.
BA R.3 years ago


Sharman Shar
Sharman Shar3 years ago

Imidacloprid is a deadly poison, damaging brain nervous system in a way that we don't imagine as what and how much loss has taken place.It stop giving instruction by living brain to its body organs and thereby causing mystery deaths like it can be seen in bees. Its spray was stop on some of the crops, but company is smart, its product management team apply it on the seed as seed dressing. Chemical on the seed keep whole the plant poisonous. Dying bees are giving us enough signals to stop use of pesticides as we too r getting exposed every moment. Government in almost all the countries have failed to prioritize health over revenue and shake hands with MNC. Only the people can raise their voice to stop use of pesticides.

Carrie-Anne Brown

signed, thanks for sharing :)

Debbie S.

No justice here, they should have had to pay a much larger fine AND be shut down.

Jason Falke
Jason Falke3 years ago

Yes a fine which is high enough to sustain what he have done

Sue Steele
Susan Steele3 years ago

The people that run this company can't be so thick and stupid as not to know what damage they were doing to bees and how important bees are.I think this was done out of greed and no other reason.

John De Avalon
John De Avalon3 years ago

What planet are these people on?