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Starving hives! Bees exposed to insecticides such as neonicotinoids are unable to gather enough pollen dooming their young ones to die

According to a new research published in the journal of Ecotoxicology, UK scientists found out that honeybees exposed to neonicotinoid class of insecticides can only collect half of the pollen they normally do depriving their young ones from the only source of protein.

“Pollen is the only source of protein that bees have, and it is vital for rearing their young," says Professor Dave Goulson, at the University of Sussex and who led the study. "Collecting it is fiddly, slow work for the bees and intoxicated bees become much worse at it. Without much pollen, nests will inevitably struggle."



There are three classes of neonicotinoid pesticides known as thiamethoxam, imidacloprid and clothianidin. Dr Goulson’s team exposed bees to imidacloprid at low dosage and attached tiny electronic tags to bees so they can track down the bees’ movement. Each bee was also weighed on its way in or out of the nest.

The results indicated that bees that were exposed to neonicotinoids brought back pollen from 40% of their trip while bees that were not exposed to neonicotinoids brought back pollen from 63% of their trips. Overall, the nests that were exposed to insecticides received 57% less pollen.  

According to Hannah Feltham (another research member of the team at the University of Stirling) "This work adds another piece to the jigsaw. Even near-infinitesimal doses of these neurotoxins seem to be enough to mess up the ability of bees to gather food. Given the vital importance of bumblebees as pollinators, this is surely a cause for concern."

Earlier research by Dr Goulson had shown that exposure to neonicotinoids could lead to 85% fewer queens. This new research by Dr Goulson and his team could explain that decline in queens and bees’ population could be as a result of less food in the nest.

Other studies have shown compelling evidence that neonicotinoids could seriously harm honeybees by damaging their immune system and their ability to navigate back to the nests:

According to a research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, neonicotinoid insecticide clothianidin can increase the levels of a specific protein in bees and negatively affect the immune system response in bees by making them more susceptible to be attacked by harmful viruses and pathogens:

Other researches have also shown that neonicotinoids could block the nerve endings of the bees and their navigating senses to get back to their nests. One farmer says that “As a result, the bee gets paralyzed and cannot move. Then what happens is that the bee starves to death, so you see the honeybee shaking. It is a very horrific way of dying for a bee”.

Recently, 37 million bees dropped dead in Canada after large GMO corn field were planted and treated with neonicotinoids (keep in mind that 94% of GMO corn fields are treated with neonicotinoids):

EU scientists call for a permanent ban on the neurotoxin neonicotinoids:

bees-exposed-to-systemic-pesticides-are-unable-to-gather-enough-pollen-neonicotinoids-kill-honeybeesNeonicotinoids are known as systematic pesticides which mean they don’t just remain on the plants exterior, but get absorbed inside the plant’s tissues. In fact, you cannot wash off systemic pesticides since they exist inside the plant’s tissue and pollen and not only on the exterior:

According to a research published in the Journal of Economic Entomology, honeybees that consume water from the plant’s water droplets die within few minutes. Studies have also shown that neonicotinoids can remain in the soil for up to 500 days after their use. Disturbingly, when other plants are grown in the treated soil with the insecticide, they could produce toxic nectar, pollen and water droplet that’s toxic to soil useful microorganisms, bees, worms, beetles and bugs including lady bugs.

Dr Goulson says that "It is unclear what will happen when the [EU ban] expires, as the agrochemical companies that produce them are in a legal dispute with the EU over their decision. Our new study adds to the weight of evidence for making the ban permanent."

Lynn Dicks, an ecologist at the University of Cambridge, says: "This is a very important study, because it provides further detail on how bumblebee foraging is made less efficient by exposure to imidacloprid at these levels." But she added: "The important questions over what is a 'field-realistic' dose are not settled and they remain open. The [levels in this study], particularly the pollen level, are at the upper end of what is found in the field, and likely to be higher than what bumblebee colonies are actually exposed to, because they don't feed exclusively on oilseed rape."

The manufacturers of systemic pesticides, Syngenta and Bayer make billions of dollars from selling the neurotoxin that’s killing honeybees in millions:

Despite all the evidence, Syngenta and Bayer keep arguing that controlled studies do not replicate the actual field tests. Julian Little, the spokesman for Bayer said that "It would appear the bumble bees are essentially force-fed relatively high levels of the pesticide in sugar solutions, rather than allowing them to forage on plants treated with a seed treatment. Real field studies, such as those being initiated this autumn in the UK will give more realistic data on this subject."

Julian Little also criticized Dr Goulson's study suggesting that bees were exposed to imidacloprid in the laboratory, before being placed outside. "All studies looking at the interaction of bees and pesticides must be done in a full field situation," he said. "This study does not demonstrate that current agricultural practices damage bee colonies."

According to RT, Dr Goulson dismissed as "nonsense" Little's suggestion that the doses given to the bees were higher than in reality. Both Bayer and Defra suggested other field studies had shown no harmful effects to bees. Goulson said: "If they have done these studies, where are they? They are not in the public domain and therefore cannot be scrutinized. That raises the question of just how good they are."

Other independent researchers have also argued that conducting field trials are very difficult since neonicotinoids are very widely used and bees search over a wide range of areas for food.




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