For almost a decade, honeybees have been disappearing. This phenomenon has been referred to as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) and it poses a significant problem to human agriculture, as honeybees are responsible for pollinating about one-third of all crops.
Incidents of CCD have increased since the 1970s but it was not until 2006 that the situation became drastic. Various explanations were given for the disorder, from parasites to electromagnetic radiation, but it now seems that a specific variety of pesticide is the culprit.
Harvard researchers working with the Worcester County Beekeepers Association in Massachusetts dosed twelve colonies of bees with a “sub-lethal exposure of neonicotinoids, imidacloprid or clothianidin.” They then observed these colonies over the course of a year, as well as six control colonies in the same locations.
No abnormal behavior was recorded in the colonies through summer and fall, but by winter “six of the twelve hives exposed to the insecticide had been abandoned.” Of the six control groups, only one was abandoned due to a fungus infestation.
This study was actually a replication of a study the team conducted in 2012. The results were the same. As lead author, Chensheng Lu, explains, “We demonstrated again in this study that neonicotinoids are highly likely to be responsible for triggering CCD in honeybee hives that were healthy prior to the arrival of winter.”
But the 2012 study was not enough to stop the EPA from approving the sulfoxaflor pesticide in July 2013. Sulfoxaflor contains an active ingredient similar to neonicotinoid and has been proven to cause brain damage in bees. Dinotefuran, another neonicotinoid pesticide, was linked to 50,000 bumblebee deaths in Oregon in June 2013.
Tell the government to stop selling bee-poisoning neonics. Sign the petition here.