The USDA Agricultural Research Service says pesticides may be having an unexpected impact, “but no common environmental agent or chemicals stand out as a causative”.
And the EPA states, “to date we’re aware of no data demonstrating that an EPA registered pesticide used according to the label instructions has caused CCD.”
But that isn’t true.
In January 2012 Purdue University scientists published results of their two year study showing the insecticides clothianidin and thiamethoxam, commonly used to coat corn and soybeans seeds, were killing pollinating bees.
“We know that these insecticides are highly toxic to bees: we found them in each sample of dead and dying bees,” quoted Christian Krupke, associate professor of entomology and co-author of the findings in the Purdue University News Service.
The Purdue Study sited the neonicotinoids as compounds that can persist for months or years with plants growing in the treated soil taking up the compounds in leaf tissue and or pollen.
In March 2012 in the journal of Science two teams of researchers, one in France and the other in Britain, published studies showing neonicotinoids have significant negative impacts on bee health and colony survival.
And in April 2012 the Harvard School of Public Health released their study to be published in the June issue of the Bulletin of Insectology, citing new research providing evidence linking imidaloprid and bee CCD.
The authors of this study proved bees exposed to imidaloprid in a plant’s pollen or through the high fructose corn syrup beekeepers use to feed their bees, and it resulted in CCD. Over 90 percent of conventionally grown corn in the US has been treated with neonicotinoids and it is in corn syrup.
The governments of France, Germany, and Italy are not waiting for more studies tying bee CCD with neonicotinoids. Since 2008 there have been bans on seed treatment using neonicotinoids in all of these countries.
Bee keepers and their associations recognize the agricultural pesticide threat but say a bigger danger contributing to bee CCD is with lawn and garden products being used by consumers.
“A more immediate threat is the lawn care companies that mix neonicotinoids into sprays and they are more widely distributed then talc on corn seed and other modes of distribution,” says Dan Conlon, President of the Massachusetts Beekeepers’s Association.
In a recent report on bee colony collapse by the environmental organization Xerces, a nonprofit that protects wildlife through the conservation of invertebrates and their habitat, their scientists found products approved for homeowners to use in gardens, lawns, and on ornamental trees have manufacturer-recommended application rates up to 120 times higher than rates approved for agricultural crops.