Two new pieces of research commissioned by the UK Government have found no evidence of a link between neonicotinoid insecticide use and bee health.
During a debate in the House of Commons on 26 March, agriculture minister David Heath confirmed that the results of research into the field effects of neonicotinoid seed treatments on bumble bee colonies showed no relationship between colony growth and neonicotinoid residues in pollen or nectar in the colonies.
The research, conducted by the Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera), reinforces previous advice by Government scientists and the independent Advisory Committee on Pesticides that the evidence available does not indicate harmful effects of neonicotinoid use on bees under field conditions.
The electric fields that build up on honey bees as they fly, flutter their wings, or rub body parts together may allow the insects to talk to each other, a new study suggests. Tests show that the electric fields, which can be quite strong, deflect the bees’ antennae, which, in turn, provide signals to the brain through specialized organs at their bases.
DEFRA has published two pieces of research suggesting the risk of neonicotinoids seed treatments to bee populations in the field is low.
The two pieces of research, including a field trial from the Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera), contradict the findings of an EU risk assessment and are likely to reinforce the UK’s opposition to a proposed EU ban.
As the mysterious plunge in bee populations continues, researchers are scrambling to understand the cause for the widespread decimation.
One explanation could be “idiopathic brood disease syndrome,” or IBDS, a newly described condition that appears to increase a colony’s risk of collapse, according to a new study in the journal Preventative Veterinary Medicine.
Study co-author David Tarpy, an associate professor of entomology at North Carolina State University, said IBDS was difficult to identify at first.
The two bee colonies maintained by the Princeton BEE Team died two weeks ago due to a parasite infestation in the hive.
The cause is most likely the Varroa mite, a parasite that sucks bees’ blood, Penn State researcher Elina Lastro Nino said after examining the hives.
The Varroa mite is by no means unique to the Princeton area, and is the number-one killer of bee colonies, BEE Team founder Michael Smith ’10 said. Lastro Nino explained that the Varroa mite poses an especially large danger to beehives because of its ability to transmit viruses and to lower the immune response in bees, making them vulnerable to disease.
Plagued by colony collapse disorder, the honeybees that do much of the world’s pollination work are in decline, and cheap access to many flowering plants that we depend on for food—from almonds to apples to soybeans—could follow them down.
Ideally, some intrepid scientist will find a fix for CCD, and the bees will be saved. But there could also be a technological solution to the pollination problem. Researchers have recently worked out the basics of a robotic bee which they say could be used to pollinate plants, search through disaster zones, or perform any variety of tasks where a small swarm of cooperative robots might come in handy.
Shortly after I graduated high school, commercial apiaries started to report massive losses of honeybees. Honeybees are probably the most economically valuable insects in the world, and are responsible for pollinating most of the food we eat. Here in the United States there’s an entire industry built up behind honeybees, with most US honeybees being transported to California to pollinate almonds at some point in the year.
As CRE has noted, studies need to be compliant with the Data Quality Act before they can be used or relied on by American regulators.
Henry I. Miller
Important technologies commonly face opposition from various quarters – often from vested interests, societal Chicken Littles or overly precautionary regulators. Examples include vaccination, fluoridation of water, and the genetic engineering of crop plants.
Another recent example is the targeting of a relatively new class of insecticides called neonicotinoids that are being blamed in Europe, and increasingly in the United States, for bee keepers’ difficulties in keeping their colonies healthy.
The number of beekeepers and bee colonies in Grand County has increased significantly in the last five years in response to growing concern about diminishing pollinators for gardens and farms, and demand for locally produced honey.
That assessment comes from Jerry Shue, the county’s bee inspector, who presented a report to the Grand County Council on Tuesday, March 5.
There are now 30 beekeepers with 97 colonies in Grand County, Shue said. That’s up from three beekeepers and less than 10 colonies in 2008.