Thursday, January 19, 2012

Honey Bee Pesticide Exposure - New Study

Multiple Routes of Pesticide Exposure for Honey Bees Living Near Agricultural Fields is the title of a new research article published on honey bee deaths. It was published on January 3, 2012.

Abstract: Populations of honey bees and other pollinators have declined worldwide in recent years. A variety of stressors have been implicated as potential causes, including agricultural pesticides. Neonicotinoid insecticides, which are widely used and highly toxic to honey bees, have been found in previous analyses of honey bee pollen and comb material. However, the routes of exposure have remained largely undefined. We used LC/MS-MS to analyze samples of honey bees, pollen stored in the hive and several potential exposure routes associated with plantings of neonicotinoid treated maize. Our results demonstrate that bees are exposed to these compounds and several other agricultural pesticides in several ways throughout the foraging period. During spring, extremely high levels of clothianidin and thiamethoxam were found in planter exhaust material produced during the planting of treated maize seed. We also found neonicotinoids in the soil of each field we sampled, including unplanted fields. Plants visited by foraging bees (dandelions) growing near these fields were found to contain neonicotinoids as well. This indicates deposition of neonicotinoids on the flowers, uptake by the root system, or both. Dead bees collected near hive entrances during the spring sampling period were found to contain clothianidin as well, although whether exposure was oral (consuming pollen) or by contact (soil/planter dust) is unclear. We also detected the insecticide clothianidin in pollen collected by bees and stored in the hive. When maize plants in our field reached anthesis, maize pollen from treated seed was found to contain clothianidin and other pesticides; and honey bees in our study readily collected maize pollen. These findings clarify some of the mechanisms by which honey bees may be exposed to agricultural pesticides throughout the growing season. These results have implications for a wide range of large-scale annual cropping systems that utilize neonicotinoid seed treatments.
Christian H. Krupke1*, Greg J. Hunt1, Brian D. Eitzer2, Gladys Andino1, Krispn Given1
1 Department of Entomology, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, United States of America, 2 Department of Analytical Chemistry, The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, New Haven, Connecticut, United States of America

You can read the entire research article including their discussion of the results at this link: 

Please contact your representatives about this problem and ask them to submit a bill to save the honey bees from neonicotinoid poisoning. I am including a link here that will allow you to easily look up your federal and state representatives names and contact address/email/phone numbers.

If you want to know more about the honey bees, here are past posts on the honey bees.

1 comment:

  1. I had just been alerted to this study from Phil Chandler's Bee Alert email. As a beekeeper, and someone who lives right in the agricultural heartland (central Illinois), pesticides have always been my number one suspect in the decline of our pollinators. Excellent that this new article points out all the different vectors of transmission! Don Huber's report should have turned our country on it's ear. Maybe some folks are silly enough to poo poo pollinator population declines, but when he clearly stated it is affecting human health, animals and plants? I cringe when I still see bottles of Roundup on the shelves at the stores and have been known to stop in the street if while driving I see someone out in their yard or on their sidewalk spraying that poison. At times, people have listened while I politely try to educate them of the dangers of the product they are using... sometimes it is lesson in futility.. but I just can't be quiet about it!
    Awhile ago it was making headlines about a parasitic fly and bees and several people emailed me the article, saying "ah ha! the cause of colony collapse!" I told them that the fly had always been here and I truly believe the only reason they are preying on honeybees now also, is because our poor bees are so poisoned and weak from pesticides and other chemicals! Thank you for sharing this article! I am dreaming of a beautiful world with no glyphosate herbicides, neonicotinoid pesticides, or Round up Ready seeds!