It’s become something of a rite of spring. Every March, newspaper stories sprout about local beekeepers opening their hives to find an ongoing environmental mystery.
Instead of hungry bees ready for the first flights of spring, honeycombs that should be empty after a long winter are full, and instead the hives are empty. For some reason, during winter’s coldest months, these bees chose to leave the hive to perish outside.
Are failing bees our warning sign?
Colony collapse disorder continues to impact bees across the United States and the world. As populations decline, though, scientists are struggling to come up with the reasons behind these bee deaths. Now, they may have found one of the impacts. It turns out that two broad-spectrum systemic insecticides, fipornil and imidacloprid, may be especially toxic to honeybees.
Two Broad-Spectrum Insecticides May Contribute to Colony Collapse Disorder in Honeybees
If you care about food, you should care about bees. Or, put another way, if you care about food, you should care about what’s happening to bee populations, which, according to recent estimates from the Canadian Association of Professional Apiculturists, dropped by 25% percent in the past year, and have been on the decline for the better part of a decade. Ontario has been hit particularly hard this year, with a loss of 58% of bee colonies this past winter. The story south of the border is much the same: it’s estimated that the population of managed honey bees dropped by a quarter from 1990 to 2011 in the United States, leaving the number of hives at its lowest point in a half-century.
For the bees: What is Colony Collapse Disorder, and why does it impact what we eat?
The same insecticide nerve poison that is contributing to the shocking declines in bees and other pollinators is also behind the sharp declines in many other insect species, along with insect-eating birds and bats. Even important creatures like earthworms, which keep our soils healthy, are being damaged by systemic insecticides called neonicotinoids (neonics) and fipronil, a new four-year international meta-analysis has found.
How ‘the New DDT’ Wreaks Havoc on the Bottom of the Food Chain
The world’s most widely used insecticides have contaminated the environment across the planet so pervasively that global food production is at risk, according to a comprehensive scientific assessment of the chemicals’ impacts.
The researchers compare their impact with that reported in Silent Spring, the landmark 1962 book by Rachel Carson that revealed the decimation of birds and insects by the blanket use of DDT and other pesticides and led to the modern environmental movement.
Insecticides put world food supplies at risk, say scientists