St. Valentine’s Other Assignment

Along with lovers, couples, and marriage, he has a more environmental domain.

St. Valentine is associated with love and romance. He is also the patron saint of beekeepers. It’s unclear why. Maybe it’s the association of honey with happiness and affection, especially in the age before chocolate reached Europe. Or maybe it’s because of the “birds and the bees” as models for explaining sex to children. Whatever the reason, the honey bees and their wild cousins need his protection more than ever. Indeed, In 2021, the federal government began consideration of whether the American bumblebee, whose populations have dropped 90%, should be listed as endangered.

One problem bees face is pesticides. A 2021 article in the journal Science called neonicotinoids the most insidious of the pesticide threats.  They disrupt learning and memory in bees, which are crucial to the insects’ capacity to forage for flowers. And at higher levels, they impair reproduction. EPA was very slow to respond to this problem. It was only six months ago that EPA got around to proposing regulations to limit the use of these pesticides.

At that same time, EPA made a formal finding that the pesticides jeopardize  the survival or critical habitat of endangered bees. That finding brings into play the Endangered Species Act in addition to EPA’S general authority over pesticides.

In California, the courts took a wildly circuitous route to providing endangered species protection to bees. California’s endangered species law doesn’t cover insects, but an appeals court held that the definition of “fish” in the statute was so broad that it included bees. The reasoning was certainly unexpected, if not fishy, though people may differ about whether the outcome could be considered miraculous.

Who knows??  Could St. Valentine have played a role in nudging the judges toward this unlikely conclusion? Such theological questions are beyond the domain of this blog.

Regardless, let’s spare a few moments to think about the bees and their plight today.  Valentine’s Day is not just a day about dating and romance. It’s also a day about the insects that play such a key role in pollinating plants, supporting both wildflowers and human agriculture. Keep that in mind when you give a card to your honey.

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Reader Comments

4 Replies to “St. Valentine’s Other Assignment”

  1. Dan, this post is just one more proof that we need much better leadership, or we shall most certainly fail to protect the human race from global warming in time, in this decade.

    Washington, and too many state politicians, are almost silent and intellectuals are not uniting in time to educate and motivate the public to make the right things happen in time. The Power of Money seems to be our worst failure mode.

    Too bad, Earth was beginning to be a really nice place after we won WWII, until humans failed to protect the future for our newest generations. And the consequences of failure by the United Nations is much worse than we ever imagined. We won WWII by uniting against the common enemies but failed to perpetuate the concept once we got fat, dumb and happy to be able to unite with a new sense of urgency over global warming today.

    Thus our failures to educate and motivate the public to demand immediate implementation of solutions are another failure mode.

    Too bad we failed to learn from The Lessons of History that civilizations have failed when political and intellectual leaders fail to meet the challenges of change.

  2. Berkeley, We Have a Problem!:

    The Power of Money in the U.S. produces mass shooting deaths, including children, because too many politicans prefer money over lives in America. And we also had 1/6, and have far too many election deniers in Congress.

    The Power of Money is also buying the decline and fall of our civilization from Global Warming becsuse we fail to unite to educate and motivate the public to demand that solutions be implemented immediately.

    Time is running out for the human race because of the Power of Money that kills.

  3. Hi Mr. St. John,

    I agree with your concern – we are all in a pickle, for sure.

    I hope though – and forgive me if this is rude – that you are undertaking some type of local group-based peaceful political activity in real life. In my experience, it can make one feel more optimistic about our ability to solve our problems. Plus, it is nice to be around youngsters because they have so much energy. Plus it can be a way to get in our steps.

    I get depressed too, thinking about CC. That’s why it’s so important to take a communal, social approach, as a way to guard against despair.

    Sorry to butt in like this though, it sounds like you two know each other. Have a good day!

    1. Thank You for your thoughts N.

      We Must All Keep Trying Our Best to make the right things happen in time to perpetuate an acceptable quality of life for our newest and all future generations.

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About Dan

Dan Farber has written and taught on environmental and constitutional law as well as about contracts, jurisprudence and legislation. Currently at Berkeley Law, he has al…

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About Dan

Dan Farber has written and taught on environmental and constitutional law as well as about contracts, jurisprudence and legislation. Currently at Berkeley Law, he has al…

READ more