According to a recent research carried out by the Harvard School of Public Health, a class of insecticide called neonicotinoids seems to cause significant damage to honey bee colonies during the colder winters. The study reproduced a 2012 finding from the exact research group that found a relationship between low doses of imadacloprid and Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), which ultimately results in bees deserting their hives in the winter and dying. The research also discovered that low doses of clothianidin had the same harmful effect.
In spite of the adverse effects neonicotinoid insecticides have on bee colonies, no protective measures have been introduced within the past twenty years. The Beyond Pesticides’ BEE Protective campaign has also stated that fipronil, which is not a neonicotinoid, also causes increased bee toxicity and decline. The chemical is majorly used in the US for indoor and turf pest control, and is a highly toxic insecticide. Fipronil has been proven to cause a decline in behavioral function and learning performances in honey bees.
Interestingly, there has been an increase in the loss of honey bees from Colony Collapse Disorder since 2006. Identifying the root cause of this problem is paramount, knowing full well that bees play a very important part in pollinating about one-third of all crops the world over. Pathogen infestation, pesticide exposure, and beekeeping practices are some of the possible causes cited by experts. A 2012 study by Lu and some of his colleagues showed that CCD is linked specifically to neonicotinoids, which cause a decline in the neurological features of bees. The insecticides Imidacloprid and clothianidin belong to this class.Lu and his colleagues from the Worcester County Beekeepers Association carried out a study on 18 bee colonies in three locations in Central Massachusetts from October 2012 to April 2013. The researchers divided six colonies into three groups in each location- one was treated with imidacloprid, the 2nd with clothianidin, and the 3rd was not treated with any insecticide.
The results were astounding, with a consistent decrease in the size of the bee colonies throughout the winter months. From January 2013, the bee populations in the control colonies increased, while the populations in the areas treated with neonicotinoid showed a steady reduction. Six out of the eighteen colonies had disappeared, showing a clear case of CCD. Only one of the control colonies was lost, with thousands of bees found dead in the hive. They exhibited symptoms of an intestinal parasite known as the Nosema ceranae.Although the 12 colonies treated with pesticides had a 50 percent CCD mortality rate, Lu and his colleagues found out, in their 2012 research that bees in hives treated with pesticides had a higher CCD mortality rate of 94%. The previous bee die-off happened during the cold, long winter months of 2010 and 2011 in central Massachusetts. This lead the authors to hypothesize that colder temperatures combined with neonicotinoids, may be responsible for the seriousness of CCD.This issue needs to be taken seriously since a decline in the population of the bee population could have massive impact on the agricultural economy and food supply.
Measures have to be put in place to protect our beesThe Save America Pollinators’ Act will work to address the damaging effect insecticides have on bee hives by preventing the use of certain neonicotinoids, and by making sure that the Environmental Protection Agency conducts a thorough review of the scientific evidence before permitting the admittance of other neonicotinoids into the market.
Source: The Mind Unleashed
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