Hives Now Show Increased Levels of Pesticide Contamination: A Purdue University study found multiple sources of pesticide exposure for honey bees living near agricultural fields, including high levels of Clothianidin in agricultural machinery exhaust, in the soil of unplanted fields near those planted with Bt corn, and on dandelions growing in those fields. The chemicals were also found in dead bees near hive entrances and in pollen stored in the hives.
ABC News reports: “According to the new study, neonicotinoid insecticides ‘are among the most widely used in the world, popular because they kill insects by paralyzing nerves but have lower toxicity for other animals.’ Beekeepers immediately observed an increase in die-offs right around the time of corn planting using this particular kind of insecticide.”
Jim Frazier from Penn State sampled hives from across the U.S. and found an average six pesticides in each hive, with one hive testing positive for 31 different pesticides, some of which are of the systemic varieties.
But how do we determine if it’s the pesticides that are leading to CCD?
What makes it so tricky is that bees can display NO symptoms for many months after small pesticide exposures—sub-lethal exposures are hard to detect, in bees as in humans and other animals. Adverse consequences appear much later, making it difficult to connect the dots.
One of the observed effects of these insecticides is weakening of the bee’s immune system.
Forager bees bring pesticide-laden pollen back to the hive, where it’s consumed by all of the bees. Six months later, their immune systems fail, and they fall prey to natural bee infections, such as parasites, mites, viruses, fungi and bacteria.
Indeed, pathogens such as Varroa mites, Nosema, fungal & bacterial infections, and Israeli acute paralysis virus (IAPV) are found in large amounts in honey bee hives on the verge of collapse. In addition to immune dysfunction and opportunistic diseases, the honey bees also appear to suffer from neurological problems, disorientation, and impaired navigation.
A bee can’t survive for more than 24 hours if she becomes disoriented and unable to find her way back to the hive.
Even our butterflies are suffering at the hands of “pestitution”… to borrow the documentary’s clever pun. A decline in the North American monarch butterfly population has been linked to increased plantings of herbicide-tolerant GM crops, and overuse of the herbicide glyphosate, which is the key chemical in Monsanto’s Roundup. Glyphosate is killing milkweed plants, upon which monarchs rely for habitat and food. Film Screening: Vanishing of the Bees Public Forum Group Broome Community College Communications Department