Sunday, 22 October, 2017

Insecticides found in honey show major global threat to bees

Bloomberg Trace amounts of neonicotinoid pesticides found in 75% of honey samples worldwide—'far below' levels dangerous to
Andrew Cummings | 08 October, 2017, 01:13

For example, neonicotinoids are known to reduce the honey bee's ability to survive the winter and to reduce the reproductive success of wild bees.

Because of the growing concern about the possible negative effects of neonicotinoids on behaviour and health of bees, their use in some countries is controlled: for example, in France the use of neonicotinoids for commercial honey production is prohibited.

A new study has found traces of neonicotinoid chemicals in 75% of honey samples from across the world. Concentrations were highest in European, North American, and Asian samples. Even honey from the island paradise of Tahiti had the chemical.

The pesticides are believed to be a large contributor to honey-bee colony collapse disorder, where the majority of worker bees inexplicably abandon a hive, leaving the queen, a substantial amount of honey and a few nurse bees that care for the queen and immature bees. An updated assessment that is slated to appear in the journal Environmental Science and Pollution Research found even stronger evidence that the insecticides are harmful, and reportedly concludes: "The consequences are far reaching and can not be ignored any longer".

As part of a citizen science project, the Swiss researchers asked other experts, friends and relatives to ship them honey samples. Honeybees don't just make honey; about one-third of the human diet comes from plants that are pollinated by the insects.

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The scientists say that the levels of the widely used pesticide are far below the maximum permitted levels in food for humans.

Industry sources, though, dismissed the research saying the study was too small to draw concrete conclusions.

The study authors likened neonics to DDT, the pesticide in the 1960s linked to declines in bald eagles and other birds. University of IL bee expert Sydney Cameron and other scientists said those comparisons aren't right because neonics don't stay in an animal's system like DDT did and are applied to seeds and not sprayed in mass quantities.

Mitchell and his colleagues set out to study the extent of insecticide exposure by testing 198 samples of honey from spots all over the globe. Mitchell's favorite is a dark and bitter honey from Africa.

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