TheRealNews on Aug 4, 2013
With a third of food production dependent on bees, a new study finds out the reason behind the sharp decline in their population.
The Real News Network
Aug. 4, 2013
VAN ENGELSDORP: […]
We really hoped that the beginning of this to find one cause for these declines, but it’s pretty clear that there are many factors coming together. And so we suspect honeybee diseases, especially the varroa mite, which is this large parasitic vampire mite that sucks the blood of bees and also passes viruses from bees to bee. We also suspect pesticides, both the pesticides beekeepers apply to the colonies to control the verroa mite, but also pesticides that are sprayed to fields and bees bring back to the colony. The third one is lack of good nutrition. And increasingly we’ve seen a lot of area that used to grow meadows of flowering plants that provided good nutrition for bees getting plowed under with corn and soybean. So we think it’s a combination of these factors.
DESVARIEUX: So, is it pesticide exposure interacting with pathogens that make–causes negative effect on bees? Essentially, is there a way that we could have safe levels of pesticides so that we don’t kill bees?
VAN ENGELSDORP: That’s a really good question, because back 20 years ago, a pesticide kill was easy to see. You would find a lot of dead bees in front of your colony. However, pesticides have become much more advanced. And so they’re not killing bees directly as pronounced as they have before. Still you’ll see mortality that’s clearly pesticide kill, but we think pesticides are having a sublethal effect. So they’re weakening the bees’ immune system or they’re changing the bees’ behavior. And certainly that was one of the major findings of the study that we’re talking about today.
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