New Study Finds Widespread Pesticide Contamination of Beehives

If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live. ~ Attributed to Albert Einstein

Original by Makro Freak

Original by Makro Freak

While Einstein may not have uttered these words, the point nonetheless remains valid: losing bees would have serious adverse repercussions throughout the food supply chain. Many already fear that we are not too far from this scenario pointing to the unprecedented bee die-offs caused by the Colony Collapse Disorder (“CCD”). Recently, adding more evidence to conclusion that CCD is triggered by overuse of pesticides, a new study conducted by Penn State University, published in the Public Library of Science, found widespread and “remarkably high” level of pesticide and other toxicant contamination of bee hives and food and that “exposure to many of these neurotoxicants elicits acute and sublethal reductions in honey bee fitness.”

According to an analysis by Beyond Pesticides, the study found 121 different types of pesticides within 887 wax, pollen, bee and hive sampled from 23 states. The top 10 most frequently detected pesticides are fluvalinate and coumaphos, chlorpyrifos, chlorothalonil, amitraz, pendamethalin, endosulfan, fenpropathrin, esfenvalerate and atrazine. Miticides are the most common contaminant in the wax and bees, and fungicides are the most common contaminant of pollen.

Since the major honey bee die-offs were noted 4 years ago in the United States, some areas have seen bee colony deaths of 30-90% each winter with overall average of over 30%.  While the apiary health survey report for the winter of 2010 is not available yet, an interview with Jerry Hayes, Assistant Chief, Apiary Inspection, Florida Dept. of Agriculture, and one of the principals behind the survey report of past years, gives us an indication that the bee colony deaths reached over 30% this winter as well.  Large declines of honeybee colonies were also experienced in select European countries, where average losses were reported at 26%.

While many attribute the causes of CCD to many factors, or a combination of factors, such as pathogens, nutritional deficits and environmental pollution, it is becoming harder for nay-sayers to deny that pesticides and GMOs are a key contributing cause to the dramatic decline of overall bee health and a factor in CCD rise.  Pesticides and GMOs go hand-in-hand.  In fact, since GMOs were introduced, farmers applied 318 million more pounds of pesticides than compared to the amount of pesticide likely to have been applied in the absence of GM seeds. And this does not bode well for the bees.

This Penn State study reminds us once again that GMOs must be, but are not, critically studied before they are introduced into the environment.