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

Most Pollinator Friendly Villages Award

Bee Friendly Monmouthshire awarded two houses in St. Arvans near Chepstow on Tuesday 9th Jan 2018 with Certificates of Recognition for Bee Friendly Gardens. BfM participated in the Gwent Best Kept Village 2017, and during the judging for Most Polli-Friendly Village, found some very wonderful pollinator friendly gardens amongst them.

We wanted to highlight them, and congratulate them. One of the winners commented, “I’ve never received an award for doing nothing before!” and that is what we at BfM want to encourage. We want to encourage more pollinator-friendly people to leave those pesky dandelions, to allow that mischievous ivy to flower, and to leave that haircut for the grass a little longer. 2018 should be the year of the pollinator.

Many congratulations to the winners, and we hope to see more polli-friendly gardens this year.

Alarming link between fungicides and bee decline

A study with data from 284 sites across 40 US States has revealed that common fungicides were the strongest factor in the decline of four bumblebee species.

http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/284/1867/20172181

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/dec/29/alarming-link-between-fungicides-and-bee-declines-revealed

Bees feed on fermented pollen – i.e. bees need yeasts to assist with digestion of pollen – so fungicide would be expected to harm bees. This research links the presence of the fungicide chlorothalonil with the presence of a bee gut pathogen – Nosema bombi.

Chlorothalonil is a widely used fungicide in UK – especially in cereal crops.

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

The scale and speed of environmental collapse is beyond imagination.

http://www.monbiot.com/2017/10/23/insectageddon/

By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 20th October 2017

Which of these would you name as the world’s most pressing environmental issue? Climate breakdown, air pollution, water loss, plastic waste or urban expansion? My answer is none of the above. Almost incredibly, I believe that climate breakdown takes third place, behind two issues that receive only a fraction of the attention.

This is not to downgrade the danger presented by global heating – on the contrary, it presents an existential threat. It is simply that I have come to realise that two other issues have such huge and immediate impacts that they push even this great predicament into third place.

One is industrial fishing, which, all over the blue planet, is now causing systemic ecological collapse. The other is the erasure of non-human life from the land by farming. ……..

National Botanic Garden of Wales research has revealed which plants bees choose for their pollen.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-south-west-wales-39003201

Scientists investigated the species honey bees liked most during spring as part of efforts to protect the bees’ environment and better understand their habits.

Peonies, wallflowers, roses, and hyacinth are among the top 10 favourite garden plants.

Favoured wild plants include gorse, willow, hawthorn, oak and dandelion.

Research head Dr Natasha de Vere said bees face a lack of habitat brought about by the loss of hedgerows, woodland and meadows rich in plant species.

Without a healthy and diverse diet, they are unable to withstand pressures from pests, disease and insecticides.

“The main conclusion is that, during the spring, honey bees need native hedgerow and woodland plants, which means we must conserve these habitats,” Dr de Vere added.

“The research also tells us that honey bees are supplementing this main diet with smaller amounts from parks and gardens – proving what we do in our own backyard is crucial.”

The project – part of the Carmarthenshire garden’s Saving Pollinators scheme – identified plant DNA in honey collected from its eight hives and quarter of a million bees.

Of the 437 different types of plants in flower in April and May in the botanic garden, only 11% were used by bees.Honey bees need access to a wide variety of food throughout spring as they replenish honey stores and feed their young.

The research, carried out by Aberystwyth and Bangor university scientists, found their diet is supplemented by spring-flowering bulbs.

Other favourites include apple and cherry trees, hellebores, oak, holly, and wallflowers.

Researchers now plan to analyse honey from across Wales to understand what bees eat in other parts of the country.


 

Warning of ‘Ecological Armageddon’ after dramatic plunge in insect numbers

The Guardian reports that a recent study shows the abundance of flying insects has plunged by three-quarters over the past 25 years.

Insects are an integral part of life on Earth as both pollinators and prey for other wildlife and it was known that some species such as butterflies were declining. But the newly revealed scale of the losses to all insects has prompted warnings that the world is “on course for ecological Armageddon”, with profound impacts on human society.

The new data was gathered in nature reserves across Germany but has implications for all landscapes dominated by agriculture, the researchers said.

The cause of the huge decline is as yet unclear, although the destruction of wild areas and widespread use of pesticides are the most likely factors and climate change may play a role. The scientists were able to rule out weather and changes to landscape in the reserves as causes, but data on pesticide levels has not been collected.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/oct/18/warning-of-ecological-armageddon-after-dramatic-plunge-in-insect-numbers

Full report at:

http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0185809