League of Conservation Voters

When most people head out on the highways for a summer road trip, they're joined by family, maybe some friends, and possibly a pet.

When James Cook hit the road last week, he was joined by bees. Dead ones. 2.6 million of them, to be exact—all boxed away in the back of a truck.

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Cook was traveling as part of Keep the Hives Alive—a nationwide tour featuring bee keepers, environmentalists, and activists, organized by the advocacy group Friends of the Earth. As the tour's website explains, the goal is:

[T]o educate the public of the dangers of bee-toxic pesticides; share the stories of beekeepers whose livelihoods have been jeopardized (and some lost) by the continued use of these products; and urge our EPA to take action to protect the health of pollinators.

"In the five years since I started keeping bees, I’ve seen many hives killed by pesticides,” Cook said in a statement. "If some fundamental things don’t change, it’s going to be really hard for beekeepers to adapt to the environment around us."

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Arriving Wednesday at the Washington D.C. headquarters of the Environmental Protection Agency—their eighth and final stop of the tour—Keep the Hives Alive participants hosted a rally where they presented nearly five million signatures of people in favor of banning a number of pesticides, including imidacloprid, which the EPA itself determined could be harmful to bees. Activists then met with government officials, delivering letters that call for a ten-step process to protect the beekeeping industry and pollinating species in general. The event was timed to coincide with National Pollinator Week, which is sponsored by the Pollinator Partnership, "the largest  [501(c)3 nonprofit] in the world dedicated exclusively to the protection and promotion of pollinators and their ecosystems."

On Twitter, participants representing a number of involved groups celebrated the end of the tour, and shared pictures from the event: