Pesticide Manufacturers Own Tests Reveal Serious Harm To Honeybees 

Unpublished field trials by pesticide manufacturers show their products cause serious harm to honeybees at high levels, leading to calls from senior scientists for the companies to end the secrecy which cloaks much of their research.
The research, conducted by Syngenta and Bayer on their neonicotinoid insecticides, were submitted to the US Environmental Protection Agency and obtained by Greenpeace after a freedom of information request.
Neonicotinoids are the world’s most widely used insecticides and there is clear scientific evidence that they harm bees at the levels found in fields, though only a little to date showing the pesticides harm the overall performance of colonies. Neonicotinoids were banned from use on flowering crops in the EU in 2013, despite UK opposition.
Bees and other insects are vital for pollinating three-quarters of the world’s food crops but have been in significant decline, due to the loss of flower-rich habitats, disease and the use of pesticides.
The newly revealed studies show Syngenta’s thiamethoxam and Bayer’s clothianidin seriously harmed colonies at high doses, but did not find significant effects below concentrations of 50 parts per billion (ppb) and 40ppb respectively. Such levels can sometimes be found in fields but concentrations are usually below 10ppb.

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Harvard Says Honeybees Abandoning Hives And Dying Due To Insecticide Use

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Harvard study shows neonicotionoids are devastating colonies by triggerring colony collapse disorder. Scientists found bees from six of the 12 neonicotinoid-treated colonies had left their hives and died.

The mysterious vanishing of honeybees from hives can be directly linked to insectcide use, according to new research from Harvard University. The scientists showed that exposure to two neonicotinoids, the world’s most widely used class of insecticide, lead to half the colonies studied dying, while none of the untreated colonies saw their bees disappear.

“We demonstrated that neonicotinoids are highly likely to be responsible for triggering ‘colony collapse disorder’ in honeybee hives that were healthy prior to the arrival of winter,” said Chensheng Lu, an expert on environmental exposure biology at Harvard School of Public Health and who led the work.

The loss of honeybees in many countries in the last decade has caused widespread concern because about three-quarters of the world’s food crops require pollination. The decline has been linked to loss of habitat, disease and pesticide use. In December 2013, the European Union banned the use of three neonicotinoids for two years.

In the new Harvard study, published in the Bulletin of Insectology, the scientists studied the health of 18 bee colonies in three locations in central Massachusetts from October 2012 till April 2013. At each location, two colonies were treated with realistic doses of imidacloprid, two with clothianidin, and two were untreated control hives.

“Bees from six of the 12 neonicotinoid-treated colonies had abandoned their hives and were eventually dead with symptoms resembling CCD,” the team wrote. “However, we observed a complete opposite phenomenon in the control colonies.” Only one control colony was lost, the result of infection by the parasitic fungus Nosema and in this case the dead bees remained in the hive.

Previously, scientists had suggested that neonicotinoids can lead to CCD by damaging the immune systems of bees, making them more vulnerable to parasites and disease. However, the new research undermines this theory by finding that all the colonies had near-identical levels of pathogen infestation.

“It is striking and perplexing to observe the empty neonicotinoid-treated colonies because honey bees normally do not abandon their hives during the winter,” the scientists wrote. “This observation may suggest the impairment of honey bee neurological functions, specifically memory, cognition, or behaviour, as the results from the chronic sub-lethal neonicotinoid exposure.” Earlier research showed neonicotinoid exposure can damage the renowned ability of bees to navigate home.

The new research follows similar previous work by the same group and comparison of the two studies shows that cold winters appear to exacerbate the effects of neonicotinoids on the bees. In the cold winter of 2010-11, 94% of the insecticide-exposed colonies suffered CCD compared to 50% in the new study.

“Sudden deaths of entire honey bee colonies is a persistent concern in North America,” said Paul de Zylva, Friends of the Earth’s senior nature campaigner. “Comprehensive research into the role pesticides play in bee decline is urgently required – including how they may compound other pressures, such as a lack of food and loss of habitat.” Lu agreed: “Future research could help elucidate the biological mechanism that is responsible for linking sub-lethal neonicotinoid exposures to CCD. Hopefully we can reverse the continuing trend of honeybee loss.”

In April, a landmark European study revealed the UK is suffering one of the worst rates of honeybee colony deaths in Europe. “The UK government [which opposed the EU’s neonicotinoid ban] has accepted the need for a national action plan to reverse bee and pollinator decline,” said de Zylva. “But its draft plan is dangerously complacent on pesticides, placing far too much trust in chemical firms and flawed procedures.”

LINK: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/may/09/honeybees-dying-insecticide-harvard-study

UK/EU Facing Food Security Catastrophe Due To Honeybee Shortages

This report by the University of Reading highlights that the preservation of the honeybee is of the utmost importance. Europe has 13.4 million too few honeybee colonies to properly pollinate its crops. Demand for insect pollination is growing five times as fast as the number of honeybee colonies across Europe as farmers grow more insect-pollinated oil crops, such as oilseed rape and sunflowers and also fruit.

“We need a proper strategy across Europe to conserve wild bees and pollinators through habitat protection, agricultural policy and farming methods, or we risk big financial losses to the farming sector and a potential food security crisis.” – Professor Simon Potts

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Direct Link to Uni -report: http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk/news/food-security/2014/140109-pr-europe-short-of-13m-honeybee-colonies.aspx

It also follows a two-year ban implemented in December across the European Union on insecticides that were linked to the serious decline of bees. These insecticides are said to potentially be a contributing factor in the CCD (Colony Collapse Disorder) that Hives have been experiencing over the last 5 years, the full causes of which are still yet unknown. I’ll be reporting more on CCD in future posts.

It sounds as though every little helps right now for the Bee populations so if you needed an excuse to plant bee friendly plants, maybe some native wild flowers then here it is.

Maybe you could go that step further and have a Bubblebee Hive or even keep some Honeybee’s and gain a yield in exchange for a lovely home. I plan to post more on that later too.