Harvard Study Links Pesticide-Laced Corn Syrup to Bee Colony Collapse

by , 04/09/12
filed under: Animals, Environment, News
green design, eco design, sustainable design, colony collapse, bee population, bee decline, neonicotinoid, harvard University, parasitic diseases, Bulletin of Insectology


The decline of the bee population over the last few years has been blamed on many causes, but a recent Harvard University study gives “convincing evidence” that pesticide-laced corn syrup may be the cause of colony collapse. The study shows that odd behaviors such as abandoning hives, disorientation and confusion could be the direct result of farmers feeding their bees high-fructose corn syrup, which was not an issue until U.S. corn crops started to be sprayed with the pesticide imidacloprid eight years ago. Scarily, the first outbreak of Colony Collapse Disorder occurred just a year afterwards.

green design, eco design, sustainable design, colony collapse, bee population, bee decline, neonicotinoid, harvard University, parasitic diseases, Bulletin of Insectology


Lethal doses of the neonicotinoid family of pesticides (which imidacloprid  belongs to) are not the cause of death for bees. Instead, little by little, the bees are poisoned, which gradually deteriorates their fragile nervous and immune systems. This leaves the bees susceptible to parasitic diseases and other sicknesses.

The Harvard University study, which will be published in the Bulletin of Insectology this June, also found that the exposure to neonicontinoids creates the effect of colony collapse, which can confuse bee instincts. Some examples include the production of fewer queen bees and male bees not returning to their hives in winter, both are which completely destructive to the breeding process.

Neonicontinoids are widely used chemicals in pesticides, first used as a pesticide alternative as it has been deemed “safe” for humans, without information on its effect on the bee population. The US Environmental Protection Agency will continue Harvard University’s study, and examine whether the chemical is the true cause of colony collapse, and if it should therefore be banned.

Via The Scientist

Images ©No Minds Vision and @ExCharmCityClub

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  1. mskitowhawk August 28, 2014 at 1:02 am

    Something is wrong with the honeybees in this photo. They all look very large and much like queen bees. Their color looks odd and they are all facing the same direction, in general. “I have a bad feeling about this!”

  2. Edward Kerr April 12, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    This issue has been of great concern to me. Though I have no bees at this time I have kept bees in the past and worked for a commercial beekeeper when I was in college. There has been a lot of speculation as to the cause and I suspected pesticides all along. (thought that the cell phone tower radiation was a little off beat) Anyway, I think that it’s Bayer who makes this classification of pesticide. They are not a US company but might respond if enough people write to express their concern. There are about 250 food and fiber crops that need bees for pollination so the general welfare of humanity hangs in the balance (and I’m not being melodramatic) Thanks for this post.

  3. Greg Sully April 12, 2012 at 4:55 pm

    This news comes with little surprise to me. Back in the 1940’s a replacement to Leaded fuel, being used in World War 2, was found to have significant relationships to insect decline. The additive, that has now become part of the reduced Engine knocking chemical mixtures, was previously know as Back-straw / Black-straw. It had the side effect of when being heated, becoming a carcinogen toxin that is both Airborne and far worse for the environment than the Lead in fuel at the time. Noting that Lead it’s self was pretty harmful to both the Ozone Layer and people in general.

    So with the news that the pesticide-laced corn, is contaminating corn syrup and causing the Bee decline, what other Primary pollination species are being affected in this way too. On a personal level, I would prefer Bees & Moths over Mosquitos, pollinating crops. The bees have less of a sting in thee tale and make honey.

  4. sylrayj April 9, 2012 at 7:36 pm

    The bees are too important to risk, and it’s hard to say how long the pesticides will be in the environment and on the market. I sincerely hope that it is pulled off the market proactively, until the study proves or disproves this link.

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