Mother Jones: Bayer pesticides behind massive bee die-off?

Purdue University study strengthens connection between neonic pesticides and colony collapse disorder

Mother Jones: Bayer pesticides behind massive bee die-off?

A study conducted by Purdue University finds new evidence more strongly linking a class of pesticides to colony collapse disorder, the mass die-off of honeybee colonies.

The pesticides in question are called neonicotinoids, or neonics. Bayer, based in Germany, makes neonic pesticides - which have already been banned in Germany due to earlier studies suggesting that they are toxic to foraging bees.

In the Purdue study, writes Tom Philott of Mother Jones,

The researchers looked at beehives near corn fields and found that bees are "exposed to these compounds [neonics] and several other agricultural pesticides in several ways throughout the foraging period." Contradicting Bayer's claim that bees don't forage much in cornfields, they found that "maize pollen was frequently collected by foraging honey bees while it was available: maize pollen comprised over 50% of the pollen collected by bees, by volume, in 10 of 20 samples." They detected "extremely high" levels of Bayer's clothianidin in the fumes that rise up when farmers plant corn seed in the spring. They found it in the soil of fields planted with treated seed—and also in adjacent fields that hadn't been recently planted. And they found it in dandelion weeds growing near cornfields—suggesting that the weeds might be taking it up from the soil.

Most alarmingly of all, they found it in dead bees "collected near hive entrances during the spring sampling period," as well as in "pollen collected by bees and stored in the hive."

Harvest Public Media also published a carefully researched report on neonics in March 2011 (before the release of the Purdue study), including a good video.

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