The Facts Regarding Honey Bees and Pesticides

Much controversy has erupted over the honey bee population and the stance on chemicals and pesticides and how they may be affecting the insect. We will cover the topic of chemicals and honey bees, but let’s first visit some facts about the buzzing bee.

Honey Bee and Colony Fact
Honey bees play a very important role in the pollination of our food. Although it is true that much of our food is wind pollinated, honey bees are responsible for much of the pollination of our fruit, vegetables and nuts. In fact, it is estimated that honey bees pollinate one out of three bites of food we ingest.
You may be surprised to learn this fact; honey bee colonies actually increased by 45% worldwide over the past 50 years. The past 5 years have also produced an increase in colonies due to awareness. Annual surveys conducted by the USDA have shown that honey bee colonies have been rising steadily over the past 10 years.
Researchers are looking into the overall health of honey bee colonies. Aspects such as parasites, diseases, and the surrounding environment, pesticides, weather and hive management are all being inspected and watched by researchers. There is still much learning, exploring and work to be done.
Much modern beekeeping is done for the benefit of crop pollinating. Although there are many hobby beekeepers, many beekeepers work on a commercial level. Hundreds and thousands of hives are transported to help pollinate crops in various areas.

Chemical Facts
Neonicotinoids are a relatively new class of insecticides that commonly affect the central nervous system of insects, resulting in paralysis and death. They include imidacloprid, acetamiprid, clothianidin, dinotefuran, nithiazine, thiacloprid and thiamethoxam.

Hundreds of studies have found that when used according to the directions and in typical field applications, neonics do not pose a significant hazard to bees, even though some neonics, like insecticides, are toxic to bees. This is due to lower doses used at normal field applications.

The Facts Regarding a Tiny Threat 
One fact that has been learned is the threat of the tiny parasite known as Varroa Mite, which has been named the “single most detrimental pest of honey bees,” according to the USDA. This parasite weakens colonies and helps transmit diseases that can wipe out entire colonies. Beekeepers are working on methods of eradicating the mite, which has been a challenge to achieve.

Future Facts
With steady awareness and groups such as beekeepers, farmers, universities, government, industry and consumers working on methods to improve the health of honey bees, the future for honey bee colonies are looking much better and brighter.

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References: The Facts about Honey Bees and Pesticides by Bayer Crop Science


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