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.
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