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James reports: "A new study by researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health says that the widespread demise of honeybees is due to the use of a class of popular insecticides called neonicotinoids, combined with cold temperatures during the winter months."

Honeybee hive. (photo: Rex Features/Guardian UK)
Honeybee hive. (photo: Rex Features/Guardian UK)

Study: Honeybee Collapse Caused by Insecticides, Will Congress Act?

By Delila James, Science Recorder

11 May 14


new study by researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health says that the widespread demise of honeybees is due to the use of a class of popular insecticides called neonicotinoids, combined with cold temperatures during the winter months. The study is published online in the Bulletin of Insectology.

The deadly combination of insecticides and cold weather causes honeybees to abandon their hives–a phenomenon known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). Over recent years, Western countries have lost between 30 percent and 70 percent of their honeybee populations, scientists say.

The new study replicates earlier research by same research team that found a link between CCD and low doses of imidacloprid, another neonicotinoid insecticide.

“We demonstrated again in this study that neonicotinoids are highly likely responsible for triggering CCD in honeybee hives that were healthy prior to the arrival of winter,” said lead author Chensheng (Alex) Lu in a statement.

Lu’s group studied the health of 18 honeybee hives in three separate locations in central Massachusetts from October 2012 through April 2013. At each location they separated six colonies into three groups, one treated with clothiamidin (another neonicotinoid), one treated with imidacloprid, and another left untreated.

The researchers observed a steady decline in the size of honeybee colonies treated with insecticides. By April 2013, six of the 12 neonicotinoid-treated colonies had abandoned their hives. Only one of the control colonies was lost, the study says.

So what is the big deal? The sharp reduction in honeybee populations is worrying because bees are responsible for pollinating about a third of the world’s crops, with some saying that in the United States, honeybees pollinate as much as 80 percent of agricultural crops.

Although Lu’s team has shown a strong correlation between the use of neonicotinoids and CCD, they do not yet know what it is about exposure to these chemicals that causes bees to leave their hives.

“Although we have demonstrated the validity of the association between neonicotinoids and CCD in this study, future research could help elucidate the biological mechanism that is responsible for linking sub-lethal exposures to CCD,” Lu said. “Hopefully we can reverse the continuing trend of honeybee loss.”

The massive population decline has led some to speculate that Congress may consider tightening regulations of pesticides linked to CCD. Calls for action are already building at the state level. Earlier this month, the Oregon Association of Nurseries urges Congress to use a collaborative and scientific approach to regulating pesticides that some blame for honeybee deaths.

“This chemical class, when used properly, is vital to the success of our industry,” said OAN director Jeff Stone told members of the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Horticulture, Research, Biotechnology and Foreign Agriculture.

While CDC may eventually spur members to find a solution, a number of lawmakers have expressed little interest in addressing an issue that is likely to pit environmentalists against agriculturalists. your social media marketing partner


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+11 # reiverpacific 2014-05-11 10:24
Does THIS Congress ever act -except to say "NO" to anything progressive or even just?
I mean and as we all know, they're already in the pockets of every exploitative, earth-raping chemical poison manufactured by the likes of Monsanto, who give less than a shit about the health and balance of the planet and all our relations as long as the lobbyist-borne lucre keeps flowing in their back doors.
They never will get that it'll eventually choke them too, especially if these amazing, blessed little creatures continue to die off, so they'll discover too late that money can't be eaten.
+4 # wantrealdemocracy 2014-05-11 10:32
"Will Congress act?" Yes, of course they will act---as directed by their corporately funded political party or their major 'donors'. All of us know this but Democrats are not yet able to act on the knowledge that the political party of their family is just as corrupt and rotten as the other corporately funded party. The difference is that the republicans are more honest.
+10 # RnR 2014-05-11 11:10
Monsanto, who bought the largest honey bee research facility, will provide it's own "study" and refute any evidence pointing to its products.

Congress, populated by corporate shills and with an average IQ slightly above that of a cretin, will agree.

I have a hive and my neighbor has 2. This is my 3rd summer with the little gals and so far I haven't had to feed them. I have noticed that there is a large increase in ground cover flowers even though we're in the middle of a serious drought (I'm in the southwest). I can only attribute it to the honeybees. My neighbor has told me his vegetable garden has exploded with produce the last 2 years - he's had his honeybees for 4 years.

Everyone, get a hive. It's not hard, and you'll experience a sense of wonder you thought was gone from your life forever :) They're incredible little creatures and deserve for us to save and protect them from the likes of monsanto and the congress.
+6 # Activista 2014-05-11 12:03
"Everyone, get a hive. It's not hard, and you'll experience a sense of wonder .."
as with all other nature wonders - but the system is overloaded with chemicals - owls are gone, bats are gone ... one can search Agent Orange and human cancer ..
Bees are sending us a message ..
+5 # RnR 2014-05-11 17:09
I know and it infuriates me to see these morons in washington, totally ignorant of the seriousness of their apathy towards the environment/planet.

Where's Al Swearingen (Deadwood) when you need him *lmao*
+7 # RnR 2014-05-11 11:19
And now would be an appropriate time for Elizabeth Warren to stand up and be counted.
+5 # angelfish 2014-05-11 12:02
Act? ACT? Do you mean "act" in the sense of actually MOVING to DO something for someone other than a Billionaire? This Congress couldn't find it's ass with BOTH hands and a Road Map, much less, worry about the Honey Bee crisis! They don't give a damn about People, HOW do you expect them to give a Big Rat's Patoot about Honey Bees? Seriously.
+7 # curmudgeon 2014-05-11 12:40

Everyone else in the world listened several years ago to research done elsewhere and banned the least as a test.

U.S. GOP scince no-nothings said' it's more complicaed than that ..."

And sdid nothing
+3 # Kootenay Coyote 2014-05-11 14:30
1. Now is the time for beekeepers to sue the producers & indiscriminate users of NN pesticides.
2. ‘“This chemical class, when used properly, is vital to the success of our industry,” said OAN director Jeff Stone’ Gee: I do wonder how humand & especially farmers ever survived before this poison was scattered far & wide....
+2 # Activista 2014-05-12 00:56
In 1962 we knew (as this brilliant scientist Rachel Carson ...documented the detrimental effects on the environment—par ticularly on birds—of the indiscriminate use of pesticides. Carson accused the chemical industry of spreading disinformation and public officials of accepting industry claims unquestioningly ...
how many species died since .. how many people are dying of cancer ... environment is MUCH worse than in 1962 .... did not see one bat, one owl - 10 years ago there were dozens around my house.
But rats and termites are everywhere ... guess how we will solve these issues: more poison from chemical companies ... human "ingenuity" ... more cancer, more profit to medical industrial complex ...
Silent Spring -
Silent Spring is an environmental science book written by Rachel Carson and published by Houghton Mifflin on September 27, 1962. The book documented the ...
+2 # RMDC 2014-05-12 08:10
It is good to see such a prominent voice saying what many people have suspected for a long time. Pesticides are designed to kill insects. Bees are insects. all of these chemicals used on industrial farms are very harmful to the environment. The struggle against weeds and insects must be waged another way. The chemicals are really "weapons of mass destruction." They destroy nearly everything.
+1 # Activista 2014-05-12 11:02
The chemicals are really "weapons of mass destruction." They destroy nearly everything...
still killing almost 50 years later (cancer) after Agent Orange was used in Vietnam ... do we need more "field experiments" before we wake up?
Agent Orange and Cancer - American Cancer Society › ... › In the Workplace
American Cancer Society
Jan 27, 2014 - One of these defoliants was Agent Orange, and some troops were ... A large class-action lawsuit was filed in 1979 against the herbicide ...
+2 # RnR 2014-05-13 04:35
If I'm not mistaken, Georgie Bush repealed the law that protected citizens of the us from exposure to chemical poisons without their informed consent. I think Barbara Boxer fought it and lost.
0 # Activista 2014-05-13 11:26
I am scared by the knowledge/ignor ance of average American - walking happily next to a lawn treated by "feed and weed" - his/her white dog having yellow stained paws and not knowing that this is a POISON causing cancer ...

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