October 30, 2013 at 3:13 pm #852MikeKeymaster
We’re Losing Bees But Can’t Do Without Them
Pesticide levels that were previously thought to be safe for bees may
actually be harmful to them. Adult bumble bees exposed to the
pesticide spinosad have an impaired ability to forage for food.
Spinosad is a natural pesticide derived from the bacteria
Actinomycetes. It’s used in over 30 countries, including North
America, Canada and the UK, to combat common crop pests such as
caterpillars and thrips. Bees are important pollinators of crops. In
developed countries, about a third of human food relies on their
pollination. Less dramatic effects on honey bees could be going
unnoticed, and other species could also be affected.
Bumble bees that were exposed to spinosad during their larval
development, in amounts that are the same as the amount of spinosad
they’re likely to be exposed to in nature, took longer to find
complex flowers. They bees also displayed “trembling,” which impaired
their ability to land on the flowers and enter the flower tubes.
Besides exposure to pesticides, honey bees are being decimated by the
varroa mite from Southeast Asia, which has killed or severely
weakened an 40 to 60% of the honeybees in the United States during
the past six months. More than 50% of the bees in California, which
pollinate the state’s almond crop, have died during the past six
The honeybee is the major carrier of pollen for seeded fruits and
anything that grows on a vine, from apples to zucchini. Millions of
acres of U.S. fruit, nut, vegetable, seed and legume crops depend on
insect pollination, and 80% percent of insect crop pollination is
done by honeybees. Crops that require bees for pollination are
apples, avocados, blueberries, cherries, cranberries, oranges,
grapefruit, sunflowers, tangerines and watermelon. In addition, beef
and dairy products eat alfalfa, clover and other plants that require
Honeybees are ideal for pollination because they their hives can
easily be moved to fields where they’re needed. They also pollinate a
wide variety of crops.
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