Facts Sting Boston Globe

December 8, 2013

Editor’s Note:  The editorial below from the Boston Globe fails to discuss key parts of the bee health story, such as the fact that British conservationists are fearing the environmental harm from the loss of neoniotinoids, as evidenced by the headline in the Guardian, ‘Wildlife at risk’ from incoming ban on pesticide linked to bee deaths. The UK has good reason to fear a neonic ban given the fact that bee colonies have dropped in France since their ban on neonics while bees have thrived in Ontario which introduced the pesticides almost ten years ago.

From: The Boston Globe


Decline of bee colonies: The sting of pesticides

This week, the European Commission began a two-year moratorium on the nerve-agent pesticides known as neonicotinoids, which are suspected in a global decline in bee colonies — a phenomenon that, in turn, dealt a serious blow to fruits and vegetables that depend on bee pollination. The commission banned clothianidin, imidacloprid, and thiametoxam, which are meant to kill unwanted insects but also get absorbed by bees through pollen, nectar, dust, and sap.

Those pesticides are also widely used in the United States, where bee pollination is annually responsible for $15 billion of the nation’s fruits, vegetables, and nuts. The number of domestic bee colonies has crashed from 6 million in 1947 to 2.5 million today. That may still sound like a lot of bees, but it’s not. California almond growers alone need at least 1.5 million colonies for pollination, Washington state apple growers need 250,000, and even Maine’s wild blueberry crop this year reportedly required up to 70,000 colonies, or about 3 billion bees, to convert blooms to berries. In a federal report this year, researchers said at the current rate of loss, there is no cushion left for bees “to meet the pollination demands of US agricultural crops.”

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