Speed Reads


Illinois girl brings her fight to protect bees to the statehouse

Scarlett Harper isn't afraid of bees, or asking lawmakers to support a bill protecting them from lethal mosquito pesticides.

Harper, 11, noticed earlier this year that there weren't as many bees buzzing around her Winnetka, Illinois, neighborhood, and found out that a pesticide that had been sprayed in the area to get rid of mosquitos had also killed bees. "Bees are completely vital to humans," Harper told CBS News. "They pollinate a third of our food supply and without them, we really can't survive."

Wanting to protect bees, she started a campaign to restrict the use of pesticides that can hurt them. State Rep. Robyn Gabel (D) was happy to craft House Bill 3118 — also known as the "Bee Bill" — to curb the use of such pesticides, and Harper worked the phones, calling up lawmakers to ask them to join in the fight. She was able to get 22 state representatives to co-sponsor the bill, and it made it out of the Energy and Environment Committee with a vote of 29-0.

There was pushback from landscapers and pesticide companies, and Illinois' legislative session ended before the bill was passed. Harper told CBS News she is certain it will be reintroduced in the next session and "we're going to win." Until then, Harper will continue to spread the good word about bees, educating her community about the value they bring and the best ways to protect them.