Honey Bee Deaths and Pesticides

Is there any evidence linking honey bee deaths and pesticides?

Certainly, concerns have been raised about a relative new group of pesticide: neonicotinoids, and another systemic pesticide, Fipronil.

I decided to take a look at some of the research myself, in order to provide a simple, easy-read summary of the findings. You can now read these summaries on a separate page here (opens new window).

You can also download a few studies. See my Pesticide Bibliography.

There is certainly a lot of research out there, and summarising all of the research would take me forever, so please note, this is only a small number of studies, and more research continues to be released.

Instead of attempting to continually summarise the latest scientific studies, I also decided to provide links to further information of related interest.

As I state elsewhere on my site, there are also other issues implicated in bee declines generally, such as habitat loss.

Clicking on any of the following links opens a new window.

Buglife Report
A comprehensive review of many scientific studies was written by Buglife, a respected UK invertebrates conservation charity. A number of peer reviewed studies are summarised in the report. Download can be a slow, but it is well worth reading.

Neonicotinoid Imidacloprid Factsheet
This link opens up the most recent Imidacloprid Fact Sheet revised from the original version in April 2010.

For interest, the original EPA product fact sheet for Imidacloprid included the following warnings:

- Imidacloprid is slightly toxic to fish and moderately toxic to aquatic invertebrates.
- Imidacloprid is highly toxic to bees and should not be applied to vegetation when bees are foraging.
- Imidacloprid has been found to be highly toxic to the house sparrow, moderately toxic to upland game birds, and slightly to not toxic to waterfowl.
- Imidacloprid appears to repel birds when used as a seed treatment.
- Imidacloprid is moderately toxic to earthworms.

EPA Clothianidin Scandal
There is much controversy around the neonicotinoid Clothianidin, believed by some to be implicated in some of the incidences of honey bee deaths and declines. It transpired that the EPA had allowed marketing of the product, despite acknowledging that data provided by Bayer Cropscience to support registration, did not meet regulatory requirements. Find out more on this site belonging to PAN North America. You can also view the the EPA leaked Clothianidin document. Beekeeper, Tom Theobald made some comments on the EPA response to this affair. Read more here. A further report can be found on Grist.

Bijensterfte, Oorzaken en Gevolgen
Very comprehensive website summarising many resources in English, Dutch, and German.

Bee Life
Website of the European Beekeeping Coordination. They have a section on the issues of pesticides and also honey bee deaths.

Corporate Europe Observatory
This report looks at industry influence over regulation affecting bees, with reports that may be downloaded in English, French and Spanish.

Honey Bee Deaths - Do They Matter?
If honey bees are not native to your country, do you need to worry about honey bee deaths and colony collapse? Take a look here: Honey Bee Deaths: Why Do They Matter?

NRDC Legal Action
In the USA, the NRDC filed a law suit in order to gain access to documents concerning the toxicity of pesticides to bees. Read more in this article: EPA Buzz Kill: Is the Agency Hiding Colony Collapse Disorder Information?

Legal Action Against Bayer
German Coalition Sues Bayer Over Pesticide Honey Bee Deaths.

Agri-chemical companies are both breeding and killing bees
Feature in The Ecologist: Agri-chemical companies are both breeding and killing bees

The Vanishing Of The Bees Many have heard about this film. Visit the website, and view a film trailor here.

Government asked to investigate new pesticide link to bee decline
In this report, it is revealed that imidacloprid, a Bayer neonicotinoid works to kill termites by interfering with grooming behaviour, which leaves the insect open to infections from viruses. Insects must groom as a crucial part of their natural defenses against disease. Termites are social insects like bees. Bayer Cropscience are reported at the end of the feature, to state that they have not tested whether their products have similar effects on honey bees (grooming being a natural defense against varroa mites - a major cause of honey bee deaths). Also, many bees live in the ground, or come into contact with soil.

Future Development of the Australian Honey Bee Industry
In this report, Warren Jones, then President of the Crop Pollination Association Inc (Australia) discusses the crop pollination industry. There are some interesting observations with regard to neonicotinoids.

A few more links you may be interested in:

Bees Need Wildflowers!
Habitat loss is a real problem for pollinators. Wildflowers provide important food for a range of insects, including bees and butterflies. Learn more here.

Save The Bees
Here are 10 simple things YOU can do to help the bees! Please share them with your friends and family.

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