Honeybees are dropping like flies. Around the world beekeepers are reporting massive die-offs of these essential pollinators. Colony collapse disorder (CCD) as it is called has been blamed on cell phones, genetics, mites, pathogens, gmos, nutrient-deficiency and pesticides. In British Columbia, bee experts say it is a parasitic mite that is attacking the bees, along with the chemical treadmill (including antibiotics) designed to treat the mites and subsequent diseases. Crops like blueberries can’t rely on the wind; they need the honeybees to help transport the heavy pollen grains. Farmers pay beekeepers to bring hives into their fields when they are in bloom, but beekeepers can no longer keep up on the demand because of the declining bee population. Losing honeybees directly affects our food supply.
Although it may be a combination of factors, many feel a family of pesticides is chiefly to blame. Neonicotinoids are neurotoxins that affect the central nervous system of insects. Bayer CropScience coats many of their corn and canola seeds in these pesticides to protect them from pests, who also become coated with the stuff. France banned the products in 1999 and in 2008 Germany, Slovenia and Italy suspended sales too. The Co-op, Britain’s largest supermarket with its own farm, banned eight pesticides in January last year. As with humans, the link between disease and pesticide may be indirect. In other words, they might affect your liver which can’t then properly filter the toxins. Some feel that the pesticides could cause a viral infection in the bees, weakening their natural defenses.
And of course the bees are also exposed to all the crop chemicals. A recent study out of Pennsylvania State University found pesticides in pollen, honey and the wax comb in hives. And still the worker bee deniers deny the link between disappearing bees and pesticides.
Update: Clothianidin is in this family of pesticides. It is already registered for use in Canada and Health Canada is now trying to determine how much of it can legally be used on potatoes.