Added 1 March 2013
The Guardian now reports – depressingly and alarmingly:
UK’s national ‘inaction’ plan on pesticides betrays bees
A legal requirement for reduction targets is apparently ignored, as ministers’ fig leaf for delaying EU-wide action is blown away by their own chief scientist
Article in Business Week on Europe and how it could get a reprieve from pesticides – with a cautionary note about the UK government’s position on this.
Added 12 April 2013
The American Bird Conservancy has issued a press release under the title ‘Birds, Bees, and Aquatic Life Threatened by Gross Underestimate of Toxicity of World’s Most Widely Used Pesticide’ in which it states:
“It is clear that these chemicals have the potential to affect entire food chains. The environmental persistence of the neonicotinoids, their propensity for runoff and for groundwater infiltration, and their cumulative and largely irreversible mode of action in invertebrates raise significant environmental concerns,” said Cynthia Palmer, co-author of the report and Pesticides Program Manager for ABC, one of the nation’s leading bird conservation organizations.
Added 1 May 2013
Under the title ‘Honey constituents up-regulate detoxification and immunity genes in the western honey bee Apis mellifera’ the PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA (PNAS) reports that:
The widespread apicultural use of honey substitutes, including high-fructose corn syrup, may thus compromise the ability of honey bees to cope with pesticides and pathogens and contribute to colony losses
I note the ‘may’. But leaving that aside, we can say that if pesticides are the cause and pesticides were banned, then there would be nothing for the bees to have to cope with and nothing to be compromised by using corn syrup.
The European Union has just banned neonicotinoid pesticides.
Added 8 May 2013
Bad news from Bee Informed, which reports that winter bee losses in the United States are up 42% compared to the previous year.
Added 15 August 2013
A bit late to the party, but the EPA has issued new guidelines for the use of neonicotinoids in relation to risks to honeybees.
But see this article from ezezine which says as follows, and more:
News From Beyond Pesticides and others. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) new pesticide label for honey bee protection, announced last Thursday and published in CATCH THE BUZZ, has been widely criticized by beekeepers and environmentalists as offering inadequate protection in the face of devastating bee decline.
Added 28 August 2013
Science Insider reports that Bayer and Syngenta take the EU to court to try to get a reversal of the decision to suspend the use of neonicotinoid pesticides:
BRUSSELS—Two agrochemical companies are fighting back against an E.U.-wide ban on three common neonicotinoid pesticides. Syngenta Crop Protection, which manufactures and sells one of the compounds in Europe, announced yesterday that it has brought a legal case earlier this month before the Court of Justice of the European Union, based in Luxembourg. Bayer CropScience, another producer, has done the same, a company spokesperson tells ScienceInsider.
Added 13 October 2013
From the Clinton Global Initiative a commitment from Monsanto (showing how to let the fox rule the henhouse)…
In 2013, Monsanto committed to addressing the collapse of the honey bee population in United States through the implementation of on the ground solutions to restore and protect honey bee populations. This commitment will tackle four key issues: parasites and pathogens, poor nutrition, the use of pesticides, agricultural practices, and the economic empowerment of bee keepers. Our planet’s food security is largely dependent on an abundance of natural pollinators; including honey bees, birds, and other insects. Since 2006, honey bee colonies in the United States have been declining at an alarming rate. This commitment seeks to address issues related to dwindling honey bee populations by investing in increased foraging spaces for existing honey bees; funding R&D for solutions to honey bee collapse; training over 50,000 farmers and growers on pesticide stewardship; and training dozens of female beekeepers in the US Midwest. Each of these will promote growth in honey bee populations and provide a mechanism for sustaining healthy honey bee colonies. This commitment is an important step in restoring vital honey bee populations and ensuring sustainable crop yields; a critical need for global food security.
Added 22 October 2013
Under the title Crop Pollination Exposes Honey Bees to Pesticides Which Alters Their Susceptibility to the Gut Pathogen Nosema ceranae researchers led by Jeff Pettis (see references above) published a study in PlosOne on July 24th this year and found that:
We detected 35 different pesticides in the sampled pollen, and found high fungicide loads. The insecticides esfenvalerate and phosmet were at a concentration higher than their median lethal dose in at least one pollen sample. While fungicides are typically seen as fairly safe for honey bees, we found an increased probability of Nosema infection in bees that consumed pollen with a higher fungicide load.
(Esfenvalerate is a a pyrethroid type fungicide and Phosmet is an organo-phosphate.)
Added 15 April 2014
National Taiwan University study of the effects of imidacloprid – a neonicotinoid pesticide – concludes that it impairs the ability of bees to return to the hive, even in very low concentrations