Shedding Light in the Darkness

Why Bees Are Dying


Harvard Gazette reports on a new study that found pesticides in 70% of honey sampled in Massachusetts. The study shows that the honey samples contain at least one neonicotinoid, the pesticide class that biotech companies say have nothing to do with the bee die offs we are seeing around the world.

The study from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health appeared online in the July 23 issue of the Journal of Environmental Chemistry.

Chensheng (Alex) Lu, associate professor of environmental exposure biology in the Department of Environmental Health at Harvard Chan School and lead author of the study, stated:  Data from this study clearly demonstrated the ubiquity of neonicotinoids in pollen and honey samples that bees are exposed to during the seasons when they are actively foraging across Massachusetts. Levels of neonicotinoids that we found in this study fall into ranges that could lead to detrimental health effects in bees, including CCD (Colony Collapse Disorder).”

The researchers analyzed 219 pollen and 53 honey samples from 62 hives, from 10 out of 14 counties. They found neonicotinoids in pollen and honey from almost every sample collected, in each and every location — suggesting that bees are at risk of neonicotinoid exposure any time they are foraging anywhere in the state. This is likely the outcome of CCD due to pesticide exposure in other areas as well.

Since 2006, there have been significant losses of honeybee colonies. Scientists, policymakers, farmers, and beekeepers are concerned with this problem because bees are prime pollinators of roughly one-third of all crops worldwide. Biotech companies deny that neonicotinoids kill bees.

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