Neonicotinoids, a specific class of agricultural insecticides resembling nicotine, have been a hot topic as of late. While it’s manufacturers, lobbyists and many farmers rely on this class of insecticide to keep pests away from their crops, this chemical compound builds up in the soil and leaches into the water, putting bees (as well as butterflies, birds, earthworms and other natural pollinators) at serious risk.
Here are 3 ways neocotinoids are impacting bee populations:
1) They Cause Loss of Cognitive Functions in Bees... Yes, Bees Have Cognitive Functions
According to a study conducted by the US National Library of Medicine, 3 of the most commonly used variants of neocotinoids were demonstrated to interfere with a honeybees navigation, flight performance and motivation to return to the hive.
If an entire colony were to come into contact, it would logically affect the lives of the worker bees, as well as the bees that are feeding on the pollen being returned to the colony.
2) Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD)
Colony Collapse Disorder is a syndrome that ensues when a colony’s worker bees disappear, leaving behind a queen, lots of food, nurse bees and immature bees. When CCD occurs, the remaining bees are too few in number to maintain the colony. Typically, when a hive “collapses” like that, other bees go in and take the remaining pollen and honey. But with CCD, something terribly troubling occurs: bees close-by don’t go anywhere near the abandoned hives.
The link between CCD and neonicotinoids is very real and well established. This article - which sheds light on an study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health in which 94% of colonies exposed to neonicotinoids ended up collapsing - confirms it. As does this Rolling Stone piece, which states that in January of this year, “...a task force of 29 independent scientists reported that they had reviewed more than 800 recent, peer-reviewed studies on systemic insecticides and determined that sublethal effects of neonics are very, very bad for bees indeed.”
3) They’re Supported by Big Pharma
Bayer and Syngenta, the major manufacturers of neonicotinoids, benefit in a big way from its use. As a result, they go to great lengths to deny its direct connection to deteriorating bee health. They’ve even gone so far as to create their own “research teams,” which put out misguided information to convince people that neonicotinoids aren’t as harmful as the scientific community claims they are.
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****Buy locally, eat seasonally and opt for organic whenever possible. This helps reduce the use of chemicals and fossil fuels expelled, creating a safer environment for the birds, bees, flowers and trees … all of us, really