Category Archives: Neonicotinoids

How do chemicals affect bees?

Pesticides reduce their egg-laying capabilities

Researchers found 26% of queen bumblebees treated with insecticides, stopped founding new colonies after winter hibernation.  This means over a quarter of bumblebee nests are being lost every year, increasing their chances of extinction.

https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2017/08/14/542895824/popular-pesticides-keep-bumblebees-from-laying-eggs?t=1566656775002


Pesticides affect male bees’ sperm health

Researchers found drones (male honey bees) with neonicotinoid exposure did not have reduced sperm count, but did have reduced sperm viability.  Their conclusion finds that pesticides leads to queen honey bees failing to become properly fertilised and leads to premature colony failure.

https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/full/10.1098/rspb.2016.0506


Glyphosate reduces healthy gut microbiome in honey bees

Glyphosate is a very successful herbicide because it targets an enzyme usually only found in plants. However, gut bacteria in honey bees also contain this enzyme and once affected by glyphosate, increases their susceptibility to infection by disease and other pathogens.

Research has shown glyphosate leads to a weakened immune system in bees, and could be one of the causes of Colony Collapse Disorder.

https://www.pnas.org/content/115/41/10305


Fungicides reduce beneficial fungi in Bee Bread

Honey bees use pollen to make what is known as “bee bread”. This is where they collect pollen, then mix it with a bit of nectar and some of their digestive fluids before tightly packing it into their cells where it ferments. Fermentation breaks down proteins into important vitamins such as amino acids, lactic acid, and vitamin K. Honey bees eat this because it is a source of medicine, as pollen comes from a wide range of plant sources – just as we get our vitamins from a wide range of fruit and vegetables.

But fungicide research has shown that it reduces beneficial fungi needed for bee bread fermentation, leading to inferior quality bee bread which reduces their immune system and ironically leads to more fungal disease – such as Chalkbrood.

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/15287394.2013.798846


Neonicotinoid exposure damages bees brains and affects their ability to forage

Researchers have found “rapid mitochondrial depolarization in neurons” in bumblebees exposed to neonicotinoids – meaning the plasma membrane of a muscle or nerve changes in permeability, affecting how cells transmit nerve impulses.

They found that bees suffered poor navigation, which led to poor foraging, which then led to a deficit in colony growth and contributed to bumblebee decline.

https://www.fasebj.org/doi/abs/10.1096/fj.14-267179?sid=c056c9e0-9441-4180-8cbf-0d912050cfe2


Get updates from https://cyrene.co.uk/how-do-chemicals-affect-bees/

EU pesticide ban failing to protect bee populations

Bees living in suburban habitats are still being exposed to significant levels of pesticides despite the EU ban on the use of neonicotinoid pesticides on flowering crops, new research from University of Sussex scientists shows.

While the introduction of new EU restrictions on the use of neonicotinoid chemicals five years ago has reduced exposure of bees living in farmland, the study found that overall more than half of all pollen and nectar samples collected from bee nests in Sussex, Hertfordshire and Scotland between 2013 and 2015 were contaminated.

Read the press release:-  The Pesticide Ban is Failing

EU Bans Neonicotinoid Pesticides

Report in The Guardian newspaper … “The European Union will ban the world’s most widely used insecticides from all fields due to the serious danger they pose to bees.

The ban on neonicotinoids, approved by member nations on Friday, is expected to come into force by the end of 2018 and will mean they can only be used in closed greenhouses.”

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/apr/27/eu-agrees-total-ban-on-bee-harming-pesticides

Friends of the Earth Report

https://friendsoftheearth.uk/bees/beeharming-pesticides-banned

 

New EU report on the risks from using neonicotinoids

A report from the European Food Safety Authority published on 28th Feb 2018 gathers together evidence from over 1500 studies and could be a game-changer for bees.

This landmark science review concludes that neonicotinoid pesticides pose a high risk to both honeybees and wild bees.

For the new assessments, which this time cover wild bees – bumblebees and solitary bees – as well as honeybees, EFSA’s Pesticides Unit carried out an extensive data collection exercise, including a systematic literature review, to gather all the scientific evidence published since the previous evaluations.

https://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/press/news/180228

Bees and insecticides – web links

A set of web links about the effects of insecticides on bees :-

Two new studies add to the mountain of evidence that neonicotinoids are harmful to pollinators (New Scientist)
https://www.newscientist.com/article/2101308-decline-of-wild-bee-species-in-england-linked-to-pesticide-use/

Europe poised for total ban on bee-harming pesticides (The Guardian)
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/mar/23/europe-poised-for-total-ban-on-bee-harming-pesticides

Strongest evidence yet that neonicotinoids are killing bees (New Scientist)
https://www.newscientist.com/article/2139197-strongest-evidence-yet-that-neonicotinoids-are-killing-bees/

Would we starve without bees? (BBC)
http://www.bbc.co.uk/guides/zg4dwmn

Attack of the bee killers: Documents show Bayer and Syngenta teamed up with farmers to get around bee-friendly regulation (Politico)
https://www.politico.eu/article/europes-lost-colonies-bees-neonicotinoids/

Controversial pesticides can decimate honey bees, large study finds (Science)
http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/06/controversial-pesticides-can-decimate-honey-bees-large-study-finds

Farms could slash pesticide use without losses (The Guardian)
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/apr/06/farms-could-slash-pesticide-use-without-losses-research-reveals

Pesticide Lobby Spends Millions To Defend Chemicals Tied To Bee Deaths (Huffington Post)
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/29/pesticide-lobby-bees_n_2980870.html

Homebase will stop using neonicotinoids

Garden centre and retail giant Homebase has announced it will stop using bee-harming pesticides called neonicotinoids.

Homebase has agreed to stop using these chemicals on garden plants. And it will clear its shelves of garden products containing neonicotinoids by the end of 2018.

Report from Friends of the Earth UK:

https://www.foe.co.uk/bees/homebase-finally-says-no-beeharming-pesticides

B & Q will stop using neonicotinoid pesticides

Some good news in the latest Autumn edition of Butterfly.  B & Q have agreed to stop using neonicotinoid pesticides on their flowering plant range from Feb 2018. They have taken note of research showing that neonicotinoids are harming bees and birds and may be contributing to the decline of butterflies as well.

Here’s the link to the relevant Butterfly Conservation webpage.

https://butterfly-conservation.org/48-15805/bc-welcomes-bq-move-to-drop-neonicotinoids.html

Research shows world-wide contamination of honey by neonicotinoid insecticides.

New research carried out by Dr. Alexandre Aebi from the University of Neuchatel in Switzerland published in the journal Science shows that three quarters of the honey samples found in a world-wide study showed traces of at least one neonicotinoid.

198 honey samples were taken from every continent except Antarctica. One third of the samples contained levels of pesticide that were harmful to bees. However the amounts were well below maximum permitted levels in food for humans. More worryingly a “cocktail effect” of more than one insecticide was found in 45% of the honey samples.

The authors of the study, who believe in operating the precautionary principle, say that a permanent EU-wide ban, as proposed in France, is the best solution. A spokesman for the manufacturers maintained that the results were inconclusive due to the small sample size.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-41512791

No neonicotinoids on 9/10 garden centre plants

Nine of the top 10 leading garden retailers and garden centres don’t want the flowering plants they sell to be grown with bee-harming neonicotinoid pesticides and have told suppliers not to use them, a Friends of the Earth survey  reveals.

However, one of the biggest garden retailers – Homebase – has yet to commit to working with suppliers to end the use of restricted neonicotinoids, despite being contacted by thousands of people via a Friends of the Earth online action ….

https://www.foe.co.uk/resource/press_releases/homebase-urged-act-after-most-top-garden-retailers-say-no-bee-harming

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