RSN Fundraising Banner
FB Share
Email This Page
add comment

Roberts begins: "With news that the U.S. honeybee population has been so devastated that some beekeepers will qualify for disaster relief dollars, comes a report from Purdue University that one of the causes of honeybee deaths is - as long suspected - neonicotinoids."

Honeybee Colony Collapse Disorder may have a simple cause, after all. (photo:
Honeybee Colony Collapse Disorder may have a simple cause, after all. (photo:

Dying Honeybees: It Was the Insecticides All Along

By Jeanne Roberts, Celsias

28 January 12


ith news that the U.S. honeybee population has been so devastated that some beekeepers will qualify for disaster relief dollars, comes a report from Purdue University that one of the causes of honeybee deaths is - as long suspected - neonicotinoids.

I say one of the causes, because the article does. In fact, the levels of neonicotinoid contamination of the powder used to spread seeds - up to 700,000 times the lethal dose - suggest that this pesticide may be the major, or precipitating, cause, with Varroa mites and other problems simply the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

And this, a myriad of causes, none of them dominant, is what agencies like the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture would have us believe, either because (as some suggest) they are understaffed to adequately investigate Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), or because some of their former (or present) members are in bed with major chemical and genetically modified (GM) seed manufacturers.

The study, by Christian Krupke (professor of entomology) and Greg Hunt (professor of genetics and honeybee specialist), explains that the contaminated powder is residue from the seed treatment. What happens is, corn and soybean seeds are treated with neonicotinoids in a talc base to keep them moving through today’s high-tech vacuum seed spreaders when it comes time to plant.

But not all the talc stays attached to the seeds. Some is released as residue due to excessive application or machinery vibrations, or when cleaning the seeders after use, and settles on nearby flowering plants or in the soil. Some even manages to survive the growing year intact on corn pollen.

One of the neonicotinoids, clothianidin (and its precursor, thiamethoxam), was also found regularly, albeit at low levels, in U.S. soils up to 24 months after treated seed was planted. This is the same insecticide, or pesticide already banned across much of Europe, including France, Italy, Germany, the UK and Slovenia.

Several countries, like Germany, have also sued clothianidin maker Bayer CropScience for its role in the manufacture and distribution of the highly toxic pesticide, which is aimed at replacing imidacloprid (whose patent ran out, so it doesn’t bring as much sales revenue to chemical corporations like Bayer CropScience!).

This is the same Bayer that came under the gun in 2010 for its GM rice, which contaminated three fields of genetically pure rice in Germany. The cost, to Bayer, was $1.5 million, but the truth is that the Big Five Frankenfood creators (Bayer, Monsanto, Syngenta, Dow and DuPont) rarely get tagged for their perversion of the natural world, making their takeover of the global seed market and their promotion of monocropping spectacularly successful (and almost complete, thanks to help from Codex Alimentarius).

Should you doubt this is true, consider the case of Monsanto in India, where the International Monetary Fund, or IMF, and the World Bank, both pushed regulators, who in turn pushed farmers to buy and sow expensive Monsanto cotton seed, which (because it carries a “terminator” gene) needs to be bought again every year, where once farmers either bought cheap, native cotton seed or saved seed for replanting.

When cotton fields from this GM seed failed to materialize - largely because farmers had been growing native cotton that required less water to survive - farmers lost everything. Many committed suicide by drinking the very (and also expensive) pesticides and weed killers tailor-made to work alongside their GM fields. The final death toll was 125,000.

Surprisingly, Europe - which seems to be dominated by a policy of central control (in everything from finances to law to farming), at least when compared to the U.S. - has been the staunchest opponent of Frankenfoods, from crop chemical to seed.

Not so the U.S., where beekeepers are losing about one-third of hives each and every year. But now the state of California, ever at the forefront of earth-friendly policies, has put forward a right-to-know referendum which will enable residents to find out about genetically engineered foods (i.e., who makes them, what they are, where they are sold) - something the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, has stubbornly refused to demand in food labeling.

Nor has the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stepped up to the plate. In fact, it failed to pay attention to reports from its own scientists, and was completely taken in by the deeply flawed Bayer study about clothianidin-treated canola crops.

The situation in the U.S. has now reached what beekeepers and their advocates, like Steve Ellis of the National Honey Bee Advisory Board, are calling a ‘critical tipping point’ beyond which honeybee colonies may not survive to replenish themselves.

Thanks, Bayer et al; we needed that! your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+71 # CandH 2012-01-28 10:21
Chris Hedges talks about the "inverted totalitarianism " in Western Capitalist societies. This industry is just one more example of this. What others talk about is the ultimate suicidal nature of such a system. Again, exempli gratia.
+29 # Kootenay Coyote 2012-01-28 12:40
At least this can be corrected: it remains to be seen that it will. & will Bayer & the EPA now pay for countless devastated hives???At least this can be corrected: it remains to be seen that it will. & will Bayer & the EPA now pay for countless devastated hives???
+63 # edwin_ 2012-01-28 12:58
Joni Mitchell was correct in the 70's "...farmer , farmer put away the're killin the birds & the bees..
-39 # News Supported Reader 2012-01-28 15:07
Hmmm... I'm not a conspiracy nut, but haven't we been seeing a lot of articles sighting theories (somewhat conclusively) ?

-3 # CL38 2012-01-30 11:14
Wake up, grow up, take your head out of the right's butt.
+2 # llama_mama 2012-01-30 11:42
on that news article you just posted it states the following: "And with the discovery that this parasitic fly has been quietly killing bees in at least three areas, it might join the list of possible forces behind colony collapse disorder."

so, this is another item to add to that 'list of possible forces behind colony collapse disorder'. let's just think of it as everyone is trying to hard to figure it out... and insecticides may also be counted as a factor. cool? thanks for posting that article. it was an interesting read as well.
+32 # Capn Canard 2012-01-28 19:46
It is always business that wins the debate between NATURE and BUSINESS. Money just guarantees winning with bribery, er I mean, financial assistance...
+50 # BeaDeeBunker 2012-01-28 23:56
WHAT? say the chemical companies have been putting profits above ethical behavior in the community of mankind for how many years?

Who would of thunk it?

I'm shocked!
+19 # jma 2012-01-29 12:54
curious and curiouser said alice. beekeeping and farming r very important Evolutionary activities. when there is no pollination what is left?
+16 # RolloMartins 2012-01-29 14:02
O, what a tangled web we weave when first we practise to spread seed!
+28 # BellBuoy 2012-01-29 17:00
Recommended viewing: "The Silence of the Bees". Neonicotinoids
and GMO crop introduction and use directly corresponds to CCD devastation. Without bees to pollinate our crops, mass starvation will result: FACT. It is CRITICAL that these pesticides stop being used and we work to recover bee/pollinator (it's not just bees dying off) populations.
+11 # Activista 2012-01-29 23:10
Without bees to pollinate our crops, mass starvation will result - yes - the ecosystem is web evolving for eons.
Now our "technologist" - dropouts - rich but uneducated - aka Gates - want to save the humans by pushing GMO and killing mosquitoes (another pollinator) -
Just an opposite will happen - ecosystem will collapse.
"The Silence of the Bees" - play
+8 # Activista 2012-01-30 00:38
"The Silence of the Bees" -

explains why bee honey (anti-bacterial ) cures soar throat better than "pharmacy" crap.
Dying bee could be looked up as "indicator" of our dying ecosystem. As deadly as global warming - Europe is stopping insecticides - where is "Scientific America" money culture.
Occupy EPA!
+11 # Buddha 2012-01-30 13:22
I think this was pretty obvious when it was observed that commercial and rural hives were the most effected, while wild hives in urban and suburban areas were not afflicted with CCD. Most of us with gardens in our backyard are increasingly going organic and the bees here are doing just fine. Every spring they are all over my garden, happily doing their voodoo, pollinating away.
0 # Timaloha 2012-01-30 16:51
Interesting that this author seems to feel definitively that neonictinoids are the cause of CCD. However, Colony Collapse Disorder has been reported since the late 1800s, a century before the development of neonicitinoid insecticides, and there have been at least eighteen large-scale outbreaks since then. It is highly unlikely that this particular insecticide is the sole factor in CCD. Other factors are also suspected including Nemosa species pathogenic fungi,nutrition al deficiencies, Verroa mites, Couphamos insecticides used to treat those mites,and a disease spread by those mites called Isreali Acute Paralysis Virus. This article is presumptuous and assumes one cause where many are suspected. Much more research needs to be done and it is extremely likely that some combination of causes are responsible for the recent rise in CCD occurrence.
+3 # Activista 2012-01-31 21:41
scientists are stressing multiple causes - but pesticides are integral to all of them.
+3 # Tim222 2012-01-30 18:54
The time is long overdue for corporate interests to be beholdin to mankind's interests, the 99% who work hard, suffer long under the tyranny of 21st century facism,
while Washington fatcats reap the rewards of a corporate corrupted government, both sides of the aisle have destroyed North American agriculture in their hurry to feather their nests with poorly thought out policies.

The time is long overdue when these people are indeed held to account for their actions.

Repeal the laws and deregulation that have allowed this atrocity to happen in the first place , limit terms like the President to two terms, if it's good enough for the President, It's good for the rest. Move up, move over, or move out arseholes.

+7 # ContinuallyAmazed 2012-01-30 21:08
Hum. Now let me see if I have this correct. Bees are insects right? And they are being killed by ------- insecticide? I wonder how much we spent on that study?
+9 # paxuniversalis 2012-01-30 22:40
Not one comment on the fact that 125,000 farmers in India killed themselves? Is this a typo? Seems an outrageous number.

Othewise, not one of us otherwise socially sensitive and inquiring individuals thought this was a fact or figure that jumped off the page? Bees more bably.

A loss of 125,000 human lives? (oh they were only residents of the Indian subcontinent,no t mall shoppers in Indiana)

We groan about 4,000 of our precious occupational troops being slaughtered over the course of 8 years...while the 500,000 Iraqis murdered concurrently trying to defend their curtilage from invaders take a back seat in the statistical relevancy column....hmmmm ...strange priorities.

+9 # carioca 2012-01-30 23:25
Einstein said that after the demise of the last honeybee, it will only be 4 years until the last human is gone.
+1 # Interested Observer 2012-01-31 08:54
Who'd a thunk it?

Actually this is good news. It is easier to stop using an insecticide than to resurrect extinct genetic lines destroyed by monoculture. Barely.
+3 # DrRajT 2012-01-31 09:03
It sounds pretty serious to me and I'd rather we took action now and not wait until we have full proof by which time it would be too late. Any case, what would full proof be? It's not scientifically literate to expect this.

One technical point: the evidence is that Einstein didn't say this.

Still, the bees are still endangered, they are a critical part of our ecosystem, they have no value to corporations and investors, so civil society has to force co-opted politicians and regulators to act.
+2 # Valleyboy 2012-02-01 05:54
This is not surprising given that Bayer was one of the main enablers of The Holocaust.

No, I'm not a nutter!

Bayer was one of the major companies that formed IG Faben, a massive chemical company conglomerate that among many crimes, were on-site at Auswichtz to use the slave labour, produce the Death Chamber gas and selected victims for Joseph Mengale. They profited enormously from it, of course.

IG Faben was so critical to the Nazi's the Chief Prosecutor at Nuremburg said: "These companies, not the lunatic Nazi fanatics, are the main war criminals. If the guilt of these criminals is not brought to daylight and if they are not punished, they will pose a much greater threat to the future peace of the world than Hitler if he were still alive."

IG Faben was broken up after WWII & Bayer & BASF were the main companies to come out of it.
0 # RICHARDKANEpa 2012-04-20 09:43
Maybe we made a mistake and should be thankful for bee colony collapse. Bees unlike other insects don't develop immunity to pesticide. Maybe it helps with survival. Bees live in an extremely confined environment in the winter and the rail all eating half digested regurgitated food. An ideal environmentalis t for epidemic,except bees if they show any sign of sickness fly away from the hive. If breeders monkey around with making bees less reactive to a little insecticide the bees will also ignore what may seem like a mild illness. Insecticide has been genetically implanted in corn that crowds out less hardy varieties. So called wild bee drink corn syrup from discarded soda cans “Why oh Why did she Swallow that Fly”

THE NEW STREAMLINED RSN LOGIN PROCESS: Register once, then login and you are ready to comment. All you need is a Username and a Password of your choosing and you are free to comment whenever you like! Welcome to the Reader Supported News community.