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Two new studies are out that show low levels of a common insecticide may have devastating effects on bumblebees and honeybees. I take a look at the research in today's New York Times (link below). These two studies are just part of a big, complicated story. I provide some extra context--and links to some papers and reports--over at the Loom: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/loom/2012/03/30/declining-bees-and-toxic-insecticides-sources-for-a-complex-story/
Experiments in Britain and France found that colonies of bumblebees and honeybees were harmed by common pesticides in a class known as neonicotinoids.
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53 comments
 
I read about the pesticides and also about parasites in European media, too. In Germany for example, honeybee populations are reduced up to 70% ... :(
 
Anyone who did not know or believe it was the pesticides causing ccd is not too smart.
 
ALL of us should. Without the honey bee to pollinate we would become extinct due to lack of food.
 
If there are no bees, there won't be any food. Unless you want your food manufactured.
 
Great. This is about the 20th different study giving the 20th different reason for declining bee population I have seen.
 
Someone is sure to create an explanation, even if completely out of thin air, because mankind can not stand not being in control. Birds falling out of the sky for no good reason at all...blame it on HAARP. Strange sounds being recorded all over this entire globe...it must be harmonic frequencies coming from deep within the earth. Thousands of fish both big and small washing up on shore all over the world...must be a shift in the tide. And this is just the first 3 months of 2012. Sorry, the insecticide theory carries about as much weight as crude oil coming from Dinosaurs.
 
Go organic, save the bees and the planet.
Stop burning oil for fuel. Clean air and water are imperative for our health.
 
quit smoking silly bees (marlboro)
 
I've noticed a decrease in honeybees in our garden, but also a definite increase in bumblebees.
Gary K
 
has any reasearch ever been done concerning bee's and cell phone signals ??..
 
Its sad how rapidly bees are dying
 
Insecticide kills insects?!? This is outrageous!
 
Its a damm shame what they have done to are bees here in the states
 
I challenge that general sweeping statement! After years of this there is actually no proof at all. Don't get me wrong I am not pro pesticide however the fact of the matter is that bee deaths can be linked to and caused by many factors.
 
So how would you propose to feed the world with organics? An what is the definition of organic ??
 
Depressing. Considering that we've technically made it impossible for the farm cow, and chicken, to live in by themselves anymore..
 
Thanks for this link and info as my class are currently studying bees in the hope we can get our own beehive to help the world wide problem in our wee patch of NZ
 
thts awesome!! id like to no more bout tht
 
What he said, Monsanto (Roundup Ready) and Dow (Milestone, Lorsban) they are destroying our food (GMO's) too!
 
Do bumblebees make honey? They are sure cool.
 
Does anyone know how the bees receive the pesticide other than being sprayed directly? Don't see that anywhere. Also have bees "in the wild" been tested for imidicloprid content?
 
Im impressed with the amount of responses this post has recieved and would like to see it continue. My question is for those skeptical of this article content, what is your opinion as to the reason behind ccd?
 
+Arman Wiggins The insecticides I write about in the article get spread throughout a plant, either after injecting it into the soil, or treating a seed. So a bee will drink some of it in the nectar and pick up some in pollen grains. Dust blowing off of fields can carry it to wild plants in surrounding fields, so they can pick it up there, too.
 
Which is why I believe in companion planting.
 
+Carl Zimmer I am familiar with the insecticide and also with bees to some extent. I have hives and also occasionally use the pesticide. Just wondering if the concentration bees pick up via feeding on the nectar is enough to have an affect on them? I can see that this would vary widely depending on how often the pesticide is used and the rate. Should be some correlation then between areas that are heavily sprayed and hive decline vs. areas with little or no spray applied. We find the small hive beetle to be our biggest problem in keeping hives alive.
 
Have you ever thought of in the Quran?
 
+Mash mirza It's my comment policy not to allow comments in languages I can't read. That's why I deleted your comment in Arabic.
 
Mash, please explain what the quran has to do with bees and ccd.
 
+Arman Wiggins You raise good questions, which scientists are now trying to figure out. Some of the researchers I spoke to thought the honeybee study used 10x too much pesticide compared to what bees get from nectar, while everyone seems to think the bumblebees got the right dose. Yet being fed sugar water in a lab is not the same as getting nectar in little sips from a series of flowers. On the other hand, the pesticides can get into the bees through dust flying off of fields, or from nearby plants that get hit with pesticides intended for crops. In other words, it's really complicated.
 
Sugar water is not the natural bee food and should never be given to bees under any circumstance.
 
Randy Oliver (a biologist and expert on CCD) over at www.ScientificBeekeeping.com has some issues with this study (actually the Harvard study):

But then, since the lead investigator seemed to be eager to “prove” that CCD is caused by imidacloprid, he dreamed up the fantastic scenario that in the winter of 2006/2007 that for some inexplicable reason the nation’s supply of HFCS was contaminated with high levels of imidacloprid. My reading of the paper suggests that the author knows little about bees, little about pesticides, nothing about HFCS, had no understanding of the distribution of systemic pesticides in plants. This paper is an example of authors so bent on “proving” that imidacloprid is the cause of CCD, that they strain credulity with some of their assumptions and reasoning , and even by changing the experimental protocol midstream!

When the investigators failed to prove their case after a month of feeding spiked syrup—they changedthe protocol, and ramped up the doses of insecticide in the syrup to sky high and acutely toxic levels, and then made a series of compounding mistakes, notably by not performing the sort of necessary parasite management required for colonies to survive the winter. And then, the symptoms of the colonies when they died did not match the symptoms of CCD, yet the Harvard press agent claimed that they did!
 
+Loretta E

In the bee business, we frequently feed the bees sugar water (or corn syrup) when sufficient nectar is unavailable. What exactly is your objection?
 
+Corey Barcus Thanks for your email. You're referring to a later study on honeybees, which I did not discuss in my article.
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