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Honey bee populations have been in serious decline for years, and Purdue University scientists may have identified one of the factors that cause bee deaths around agricultural fields.
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 insecticides clothianidin and thiamethoxam were also consistently found at low levels in soil – up to two years after treated seed was planted – on nearby dandelion flowers and in corn pollen gathered by the bees, according to the findings released in the journal PLoS One this month.
“We know that these insecticides are highly toxic to bees; we found them in each sample of dead and dying bees,” said Christian Krupke, associate professor of entomology and a co-author of the findings.
The United States is losing about one-third of its honeybee hives each year, according to Greg Hunt, a Purdue professor of behavioral genetics, honeybee specialist and co-author of the findings. Hunt said no one factor is to blame, though scientists believe that others such as mites and insecticides are all working against the bees, which are important for pollinating food crops and wild plants.
“It’s like death by a thousand cuts for these bees,” Hunt said. Original source: wakeup-world.com
In April 2014 …
Mass Honey Bee Deaths During Almond Pollination
Over 475,000 Colonies Impacted From Exposure!
In early February, commercial, migratory beekeepers travel with their bees to the almond groves in California for pollination. Almonds are one of many key crops that rely upon honeybees for pollination. Many migratory beekeepers begin with almonds and then travel to other states to work with growers and pollinate other crops such as apples, cherries, avocados, cranberries and blueberries. The California almond crop is critical because it supplies 80% of the world’s almonds.
Due to exposure to neonicotinoids, IGR’s (insect growth regulator pesticides) and fungicides, the number of bees impacted will continue to grow as the chemicals take their toll. Full article: theorganicview.com
Below is an interview with two commercial, migratory beekeepers – Jeff Anderson and Bill Rhodes concerning the mass honeybee deaths in California from almond pollination.
Up To 425,000 Colonies Severely Damaged or Killed
Beekeepers have been urging the EPA to tighten restrictions on pesticides. They prefer spraying at night when bees are back in the hives, or no spraying at all.
The EPA has focused on the issue and believes the labels on approved chemicals are adequate. It has also moved to improve labels on pesticides to save bees and encouraged farmers to limit sprays so they don’t spread in the wind. What’s more, they can’t police how farmers handle pesticides.
The Department of Agriculture is also spending $3 million to improve pastures in the midwest used by bees. Overall, bees are responsible for pollinating $15 billion worth of produce each year.
In the California case, the farmers claim they followed the approved chemical labeling and still the bees were hurt or killed.
According to the Pollinator Stewardship Council, a bee advocate group, the spray used in the almond fields resulted in “dead adult bees, and dead, dying, and deformed brood.” A poll of 75 beekeepers found that 80,000 of their colonies were damaged, 75 percent of them severely.
Overall, said the council, about 1.7 million hives supplied by 1,300 commercial beekeepers were used to pollinate the almonds. Some 25 percent or up to 425,000 colonies, were severely damaged or killed. Each hive has some 40,000 or more bees.
The colony deaths were so large for some beekeepers that they don’t plan to return to the almond fields next year. Original source: washingtonexaminer.com