Are honey bee pesticide poisoning incidents being properly identified and measured - or even adequately reported?
This is of interest, because in the UK, for example, during the debate about whether neonicotinoid pesticides kill bees, it has been claimed that there is no evidence that they are linked to bee losses. It is stated that honey bee poisoning incidents are monitored, and there is no evidence to suggest concern.
The UK Invertebrates charity, Buglife, investigated this claim. Here is what they say - from 6th April 2011:
The report then goes on to outline how the proportion of honey bee pesticide poisoning incidents due to neonicotinoids has increased from 0% in 2008 to 27% in 2010.
However, one could argue that the overall number of incidents is rather small anyway.
Certainly, the low figures surprised me - but then, I have heard about incidents going unreported.
This begs the
"are honey bee poisoning incidents really
adequately reported - or not, and whose job is it to ensure they are?"
need to know, because when claims such as those by Fera's Helen
Thompson are made, we need to be sure we can have confidence in their
validity, especially given the amount of independent evidence
implicating neonicotinoids in bee deaths.
A report by a Spray Liaison Officer and beekeeper, Dr Bernie Doeser, is interesting reading.
Within the report, Dr Doeser outlines the inadequacies of the Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme mentioned above by Buglife, with regard to honey bees and beekeepers and the reporting of honey bee pesticide poisoning incidents.
These inadequacies include (and do take into account the large increase in numbers of new beekeepers):
Dr Doeser concludes:
"Certainly anyone basing their argument that bees are safe from pesticides on the low level of incidents reported to the WIIS does not understand how the scheme works, or perhaps more accurately, how it doesn’t work."
Note that the Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme is led by the Chemical Regulations Directorate, who are responsible for the approval of pesticides, and who also work closely with DEFRA and FERA. Presumably, it's their job to rectify this situation - although I won't hold my breath.
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