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The Ink Well » The Druid's Keep - The Environment and Green Living » Solid Evidence that Pesticides are Killing Bees

Solid Evidence that Pesticides are Killing Bees

Bombus terrestris.the buff-tailed bumblebee by David Goulson

Bombus terrestris.the buff-tailed bumblebee by David Goulson

Big chemical companies have so much pull that they’ve managed to wrangle the EPA and USDA into allowing them to get away with murder. Bee murder that is.

Colony Collapse Disorder

In 2006 30-90% of beekeeper’s colonies disappeared or died. Bees have been in decline for years, since the mid 1970′s. But instead of looking at the most reasonable culprit, pesticides, some scientists have been looking at cumulative effects of mites, viruses and fungi as the culprit. Reasonable people have been saying that it’s silly to look at everything from moving bee colonies (a practice that has gone on for hundreds of years) to cell phone towers for the reason bees are suddenly disappearing while pesticide use skyrocketed. Sure, all those things made things worse, but if someone chronicly poisoned, and they get pneumonia and die because they were weakened by the toxin, was it really the pneumonia that killed them or the poison? If you have to think about that for more than half a second, read up on AIDS.

I’ve been expounding against the use of these neonicotinimids since 2007. It’s part of my old website that GoDaddy ate.

New Research

Today, 2 reports were released, done in Europe of course, not here where we are ruled by the large corporations, that showed that the culprit is the worst pesticide: neonicotinoids is the bad actor killing off our friend the bee. Neonicotinoid was introduced in 1990 and as use spread across the world bees began to disappear. For at least ten years beekeepers and others who care about bees and other beneficial insects have been trying to convince the government to ban neonicotinoid by handing out flyers at local farmer’s markets and other public gatherings. What should have been common sense, a commodity that may also be affected by pesticides, became a battle between big chemical companies and small organic farmers and scientists and in the era of Big Business mentality, you know what happened.

One report that was released today by ‘Science’ presented the results of a study carried out by the University of Stirling in Stirling, U.K. which showed that bees exposed to ‘acceptable levels’ of neonicotinoid gathered 10% less food over the course of the summer compared to control bees and produced 85% fewer queen bees. Queen bees are critical because without them colonies don’t generate new colonies in the spring.

The second report based on the work by French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA) in Avignon, France and showed that those dazed and confused bees who often didn’t make it back to the hive behaved exactly the same as bees exposed to neonicotinoids. Since neonicotinoids are a CNS toxin (Central Nervous System) it shouldn’t be any surprise that it could leave bees baffled and lost leading to them disappearing from the hive.

A Report from Purdue

It wasn’t really fair of me to snark that the US isn’t doing any research on the obvious cause. Two months ago a report came out of Purdue University concerning newonicotinoids.

Analyses of bees found dead in and around hives from several apiaries over two years in Indiana showed the presence of neonicotinoid insecticides, which are commonly used to coat corn and soybean seeds before planting. The research showed that those insecticides were present at high concentrations in waste talc that is exhausted from farm machinery during planting.

The Purdue researchers went on to explain that it’s not just the amount of pesticide used on the seeds that’s the problem.

“Given the rates of corn planting and talc usage, we are blowing large amounts of contaminated talc into the environment. The dust is quite light and appears to be quite mobile,” Krupke said.


Colony Collapse Disorder

Colony Collapse Disorder

What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Weaker


Toxins aren’t character building events. If you’re exposed to toxins day after day, just because you survive doesn’t mean your fit. These chemical companies, and the government, seem to forget that it’s all about the survival of the fitest. How fit is a creature that is poisoned daily to within a moment of death? I suppose it could be an extension of their denial of evolution since fitness is a fundamental concept in understanding evolution.

The University of Georgia has an interesting summary of the burden bees are under including the effects of GE corn and soy beans.

Neonicotinoid and phenylpyrazole insecticides differ from classic insecticides in that they become systemic in the plant, and can be detected in pollen and nectar throughout the blooming period. As a consequence, bees can experience chronic exposure to them over long periods of time. While some studies have shown no negative effects from seed-treated crops, acute mortality was the only response measured.

On the USDA website it says the following about CCD:

ARS scientists and others are in the process of carrying out research to discover the cause(s) of CCD and develop ways for beekeepers to respond to the problem.

To which I reply, is it really the responsibility of BEEKEEPERS to respond to the problem caused by Big Ag and  Big Chem? Instead why don’t the USDA and the EPA do their jobs and protect the environment and agriculture just ban these poisens? And, let’s think about what the effects of humans eating a CNS damaging chemical in low amounts over the course of a lifetime? Could they be contributing to Alzheimers? What about farmers and migrant workers who have much higher exposures to these chemicals? Really, if there are aliens watching what’s going on down here they must think it’s Bizarro world where “The Big Bang Theory” meets “The Three Stooges”.



Credits: Purdue University; University of Georgia; Science Express, published by AAAS


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