The March/April issue of Sierra Club Magazine has an exceptional article on the relationship between honeybee declines and the rise of neonicotinoid pesticide use. Ninety percent of U.S.-grown corn is treated--covering 200 million acres! Other crops treated with neonicotinoids include soybeans, apples, rice, potatoes, sugar beets and citrus fruits.
Researchers around the world have reported that bees' navigational abilities are hampered and their immune systems break down after exposure. Combine neonicotinoid exposure with treating bees for parasitic mites and they can't remember associations between flower scents and food rewards.
The article states that from 2000 to 2011, total U.S. honey production fell one-third from 221 million to 148 million pounds while the three most common neonicotinoid pesticides (imidacloprid, thiamethoxan and clothianidin) grew from about 280,000 pounds to more than 4.5 million pounds. In frustration, some commercial beekeepers are no longer renting their hives out to farmers.
Thanks to author Patrick J.Kiger for his excellent research.
Header photo by: Nancy Lee Adamson
These are the opinions and events of interest to the Bee City USA coordinator and Xerces Society.