New Research Shows Risk to Bumblebee Extinction

THE GOVERNMENT MUST BAN BEE-HARMING PESTICIDES AS NEW RESEARCH SHOWS RISK TO BUMBLEBEE EXTINCTION

The government must act to permanently ban bee-harming pesticides says
Friends of the Earth as new research from Royal Holloway University suggests that neonicotinoid pesticides pose a risk of bumblebee extinction.

The research showed that queen bees exposed to neonicotinoid pesticides were
26% less likely to be able to start a new colony.

Friends of the Earth is urging the UK government to back moves in the EU to
permanently extend current neonicotinoid restrictions to all crops – and
commit to keeping any ban post-Brexit.

Responding to the research, Sandra Bell, Friends of the Earth nature
campaigner, said:

“This new study comes hot on the heels of the largest field trials of
neonicotinoids showing harm to honey bees and wild bees. It also follows
new evidence of how these pesticides leak into the environment and turn up in
wildflowers posing further risk to bees.

“It is clear that use of these chemicals on any crop poses a risk to bees
and other wildlife. The Government has repeatedly said it will follow the
science – how much more science does it need before it acts to protect our
precious bees?

“Michael Gove must put his support behind a comprehensive ban on
neonicotinoid pesticides across the EU and continue the ban in the UK
post-Brexit”


*Editor’s notes:*

1) Bumblebees are less able to start colonies when exposed to a common
neonicotinoid pesticide, which could lead to collapses in wild bee
populations, according to new research [1] in Nature Ecology & Evolution. Researchers from Royal Holloway, University of London, and the University of Guelph have found
that exposure to thiamethoxam, a common pesticide, reduced the chances of
a bumblebee queen starting a new colony by more than a quarter.

2) In June 2017 a pan-European field study was published [2] providing
evidence that neonicotinoids harm honeybees and wild bees. Covering a
crop area equivalent to 3,000 football pitches, it was the biggest yet
real-world study of these pesticides. Undertaken in the UK, Germany and
Hungary, the experiment found : Increasing levels of neonicotinoid
residues in the nests of wild bee species was linked with lower
reproductive success across all three countries; Exposure to treated
crops reduced overwintering success of honeybee colonies – a key
measure of year-to-year viability – in the UK and Hungary.

3) Another study [3] this year, carried out on corn farms in Canada, found
crops were not the main source of neonicotinoids to which bees were
exposed. Instead, the contaminated pollen came from wildflowers, as has
also been shown in the UK. Nadia Tsvetkov, at York University in Canada
and who led the research said that “This indicates that neonicotinoids,
which are water soluble, spill over from fields into the surrounding
environment, where they are taken up by other plants that are very
attractive to bees”.


[1] http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41559-017-0260-1

[2]https://www.ceh.ac.uk/news-and-media/news/neonicotinoid-pesticides-harm-honeybees-wild-bees-first-pan-european-field-study

[3] http://science.sciencemag.org/content/356/6345/1395

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