Tag Archives: honeybees

Common agricultural chemicals shown to impair honey bees’ health

July 24, 2013. Source: University of Maryland

Commercial honey bees used to pollinate crops are exposed to a wide variety of agricultural chemicals, including common fungicides which impair the bees’ ability to fight off a potentially lethal parasite, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Maryland and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The study, published July 24 in the online journal PLOS ONE, is the first analysis of real-world conditions encountered by honey bees as their hives pollinate a wide range of crops, from apples to watermelons.

The researchers collected pollen from honey bee hives in fields from Delaware to Maine. They analyzed the samples to find out which flowering plants were the bees’ main pollen sources and what agricultural chemicals were commingled with the pollen. The researchers fed the pesticide-laden pollen samples to healthy bees, which were then tested for their ability to resist infection with Nosema ceranae – a parasite of adult honey bees that has been linked to a lethal phenomenon known as colony collapse disorder.

On average, the pollen samples contained 9 different agricultural chemicals, including fungicides, insecticides, herbicides and miticides. Sublethal levels of multiple agricultural chemicals were present in every sample, with one sample containing 21 different pesticides. Pesticides found most frequently in the bees’ pollen were the fungicide chlorothalonil, used on apples and other crops, and the insecticide fluvalinate, used by beekeepers to control Varroamites, common honey bee pests.
Continue reading

5 Comments

Filed under Biodiversity, BREAKING NEWS, Industrial agriculture

Honeybee Deaths Linked to Corn Insecticides

Cross-Posted from ABC News

gty honeybee jef 120315 main Honeybee Deaths Linked to Corn Insecticides

 Image credit: Yoshikazu Tsuno/AFP/Getty Images

What was killing all those honeybees in recent years?  New research shows a link between an increase in the death of bees and insecticides, specifically the chemicals used to coat corn seeds.
.
The study, titled “Assessment of the Environmental Exposure of Honeybees to Particulate Matter Containing Neonicotinoid Insecticides Coming from Corn Coated Seeds,” was published in the American Chemical Society’s Environmental Science & Technology journal, and provides insight into colony collapse disorder.
.
Colony collapse disorder, or the mass die-off of honeybees, has stumped researchers up to now. This new research may provide information that  could lead to even more answers.
.
According to the new study, neonicotinoid insecticides “are among the most widely used in the world, popular because they kill insects by paralyzing nerves but have lower toxicity for other animals.”
.
Beekeepers immediately observed an increase in die-offs right around the time of corn planting using this particular kind of insecticide.
.
Pneumatic drilling machines suck the seeds in and spray them with the insecticide to create a coating before they are planted in the ground. Researchers suspected the mass die-offs could have been caused by the particles of insecticide that were released into the air by the machines when the chemicals are sprayed.
.
The researchers tested several methods to make the drilling machines safer for bees. However, they found that all variations that used the neonicotinoid insecticides continued to cause mass die-offs of bees.
.
Honeybees are critical for pollinating food crops. Scientists say the disruption of pollination could dramatically affect entire ecosystems. In addition, as the researchers wrote in the study, “In view of the currently increasing crop production, and also of corn as a renewable energy source, the correct use of these insecticides within sustainable agriculture is a cause of concern.”

4 Comments

Filed under Biodiversity, Climate Change, Food Sovereignty, Pollution