It is being reported that a group of Harvard scientists has solved the mystery around why recent honey bee populations have been collapsing and it is due to insecticides. The mysterious deterioration of honey bees over the previous few years had been attributed to everything from radiation from cell phones to climate change. However the researchers now think they have found hard evidence that the honey bees collapse can be blamed mostly on two broadly used pesticides. The research study, which came from Harvard’s School of Public Health, was printed up in the Bulletin of Insectology this past week.
The latest intense degeneration of populations of honey bees is mainly due to an occurrence which is known as colony collapse disorder. This is a condition where bees abandon their hives in the middle of winter and ultimately die because of it. The researchers followed nearly 20 honeybee colonies located in Massachusetts, observing them for their levels of population and also insecticide exposure. What they discovered was a condemnation of contemporary agricultural practices. The honey bee populations that were experiencing the worst outcomes had been exposed to two different types of neonicotinoid. This is a kind of pesticide, during a particularly tough winter. The research paper stated that this happened because the extremely cold weather caused a neurological reaction in any of the honey bees that happened to be exposed to the insecticide.
The scientists stated that it was very perplexing and unusual to witness the empty neonicotinoid treated colonies because honey bees do not usually leave their hives during the winter. Such an observation might suggest that the weakening of the honey bees’ neurological function, precisely memory, cognition and/or behavior is from prolonged exposure to the neonicotinoid.
The novel study builds on prior work that found links between one kind of neonicotinoid known as imidacloprid, and colony collapse disorder. This time researchers looked at imidacloprid along with clothianidin and discovered that each chemical was having the same result on honey bees, which was making them leave their hives in the middle of winter and then die.
The honey bee colonies that ended up completely collapsing had a total absence of any adult honey bees and there were very few or no dead bees in or around the colonies when they were examined.
The discoveries may have very large implications for the insecticide business. The European Union has already banned three different types of neonicotinoid for an extended period of two years in an experimental trial. With the findings of the Harvard scientists, this may lead to even more of the same. With growing weather extremes happening all over the world and now more than ever there being the urgent need to be able to pollinate and grow healthy crops, the research report ranges even further than just honey bees but for now they are what is important. The Harvard scientists stated that hopefully with the findings they will be to reverse the ongoing trend of honey bee deaths. Hopefully the group of Harvard scientists can help stop the honey bee populations from collapsing any farther.
By Kimberly Ruble