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> Could Colony Collapse Disorder Be Caused By A Common Pesticide?
Could Colony Collapse Disorder Be Caused By A Common Pesticide?
Bees are probably the single most important pollinator for our agricultural practices. Unfortunately in the past 7-8 years colonies have been disappearing at an alarming rate. Here is a quick explanation from the EPA website:
During the winter of 2006-2007, some beekeepers began to report unusually high losses of 30-90 percent of their hives. As many as 50 percent of all affected colonies demonstrated symptoms inconsistent with any known causes of honeybee death: sudden loss of a colony’s worker bee population with very few dead bees found near the colony. The queen and brood (young) remained, and the colonies had relatively abundant honey and pollen reserves. But hives cannot sustain themselves without worker bees and would eventually die. This combination of events resulting in the loss of a bee colony has been called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).
Though agricultural records from more than a century ago note occasional bee “disappearances” and “dwindling” colonies in some years, it is uncertain whether the colonies had the same combination of factors associated with CCD. What we do know from the data from beekeepers for 2010/2011 is that CCD is still a concern.
There have been many theories about the cause of CCD, but the researchers who are leading the effort to find out why are now focused on these factors:
- increased losses due to the invasive varroa mite (a pest of honeybees);
- new or emerging diseases such as Israeli Acute Paralysis virus and the gut parasite Nosema;
- pesticide poisoning through exposure to pesticides applied to crops or for in-hive insect or mite control;
- bee management stress;
- foraging habitat modification
- inadequate forage/poor nutrition and
- potential immune-suppressing stress on bees caused by one or a combination of factors identified above.
Additional factors may include poor nutrition, drought, and migratory stress brought about by the increased need to move bee colonies long distances to provide pollination services.
Here is another slightly older article on Colony Collapse Disorder
In a recent paper published in Science, Henry, Béguin, et al., show that a common Bayer pesticide impair bee’s navigational systems, and could be in part to blame for CCD.
A Common Pesticide Decreases Foraging Success and Survival in Honey Bees
Nonlethal exposure of honey bees to thiamethoxam (neonicotinoid systemic pesticide) causes high mortality due to homing failure at levels that could put a colony at risk of collapse. Simulated exposure events on free-ranging foragers labeled with a radio-frequency identification tag suggest that homing is impaired by thiamethoxam intoxication. These experiments offer new insights into the consequences of common neonicotinoid pesticides used worldwide.