The recent decline in American bee populations may be linked to the increased use of farm chemicals, particularly insecticides.
Over the past several years, scientists have noticed a sharp decline in the North American bee population. In particular, researchers have discovered a disturbing phenomenon known as colony collapse disorder, where worker bees in a beehive or bee colony suddenly disappear. The decline in the honeybee population is happening in tandem with a decline in the overall population of insect pollinators.
Recent studies published in the journal Science suggest that increased pesticide usage could be connected to the sudden drop in bee populations. According to the study, use of neonicotinoids, a class of pesticide that acts on the central nervous system of insects, may be decreasing the weight and number of queen bees in bee colonies. In addition, the chemicals may lead to disorientation in workers, causing them to fail to return to their hives.
Scientists stress that the study is suggestive, and not nearly conclusive enough to warrant an immediate ban. However, they and environmental activists have urged the Environmental Protection Agency to reevaluate the use of neonicotinoids and to verify their safety.
The question of bee safety is a vital one for farmers across the country. As pollinators, bee populations are necessary to the growth and cultivation of a wide variety of American crops.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer