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Pesticides And Bee Deaths

March 29, 2012 by staff 

Pesticides And Bee Deaths, In July 1994, French beekeepers reported that their honeybee population had displayed strange, agitated behaviour and had “melted away”. “Mad bee disease” as it quickly became known was thought to have caused the death of as many of 40% of bee colonies and beekeepers looking for an explanation for the catastrophe began pointing the finger at a new type of pesticide.

Systemic pesticides are those that are transported in the sap of a plant from the seed up through the stem into the leaves and flowers. Here they contaminate nectar and pollen and hence any insect that picks them up – including bees.

Since then, imidacloprid and other neonicotinoid systemic pesticides, such as thiamethoxam, have been implicated in the worldwide collapse of honeybee colonies. As well as being systemic, they act as a neurotoxin attacking an insect’s nervous system on contact or ingestion and are designed to protect over 140 commercial crops, including cereals, oilseed rape, maize, cotton, sunflower and sugar beets, from specific bugs such as corn earworm in the 120 countries in which it is registered for use. But many beekeepers believe the pesticide’s presence at sub-lethal doses in nectar and pollen collected by foraging honeybees has wiped out bee populations.

David Hackenberg, the commercial US beekeeper credited with discovering the strange phenomenon known as colony collapse disorder, when he opened his 400 hives in Florida in 2006 to find his bees had disappeared, has always blamed systemic pesticides. And he is not alone. But until now their culpability has been difficult to prove.

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