Pesticides Responsible for Bee Losses

For the past several years, beekeepers and scientists have been baffled by ongoing losses in the North American honeybee population. Since 2006, colonies across the United States have suffered mysterious, catastrophic population decreases.
In addition to beekeepers, many farmers have reacted with worry to news of Colony Collapse Disorder, as several major crops worldwide are pollinated by bees.
Recent scientific studies in the US and the European Union suggest that widespread pesticide use, particularly the use of pesticides containing neonicotinoids, are to blame for the bee losses. These types of pesticides are applied to seeds before planting. As the crops develop, the pesticide coats the plant’s entire surface. Insects that feed on treated plants receive fatal doses of poison.
However, the planting of treated seeds may be spreading pesticides beyond their intended targets. Corn, for example, one of the crops most commonly treated with neonicotinoids, is typically planted with large machines using air pressure to transfer seeds into the ground. During this process, poisons can be spread through the air to nearby plants and flowers. Bees feeding on the pollen of these flowers meet the same fate as the insects feeding on treated corn.
The link between corn harvests, pesticides, and colony collapse is further highlighted by the fact that bee deaths typically spike during planting season.
Some environmental groups are already calling on the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate pesticide use in the wake of these reports.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer