Neonicotinoids – devastating pesticide behind loss of honey bees



By Catherine Haug, May 5, 2013

(photo, right, from

I’ve written often about the threat of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) that is so devastating to honey bees. Researchers are now convinced that a newish pesticide category known as neonicotinoids are behind the problem.

We are familiar with nicotine, the controversial addictive chemical in tobacco. Nicotine is actually one of the plant’s weapons against pests that want to destroy it; that is, it is a natural pesticide. So agricultural scientists were anxious to develop and patent similar chemicals – neonicotinoids – that target specific pests.

And now Dr. Mercola reports EPA Slapped with Lawsuit over Ongoing Bee Deaths, due to neonicotinoids in pollen.

Read on for more about this pesticide, its effect on pollinators, a short YouTube video on the topic, the EPA suit, and what you can do to help honeybees.

Nicotine-like pesticides

These are unlike earlier pesticides in that they are not sprayed on the crops, but rather are applied to the seed. When the seed germinates, it takes up the chemical which then spreads throughout the plant – its leaves, blooms, stem and roots – just as nicotine does in the tobacco plant, to harm any pest that eats it.

Unfortunately, it also gets into the pollen and nectar in the blooms. When bees go after the nectar (and pick up the pollen), they are unwittingly consuming the pesticide, then take it back to their hives where much damage is done. The amount of poison taken up each time is minuscule, but it is cumulative so that after time, it is deadly. Other pollinators are similarly affected (moths, butterflies, wasps, etc.).

Below is an informative YouTube video about this pesticide, featuring Dr Keith Tyrell, Director of Pesticide Action Network UK (PAN UK). If the video player doesn’t appear, you can view it at The problem with neonicotinoids.

Suit against EPA on behalf of bees

From Mercola’s article: EPA Slapped with Lawsuit over Ongoing Bee Deaths:

“One of the observed effects of these insecticides is weakening of the bee’s immune system. Forager bees bring pesticide-laden pollen back to the hive, where it’s consumed by all of the bees. 

Six months later, their immune systems fail, and they fall prey to secondary, seemingly “natural” bee infections, such as parasites, mites, viruses, fungi and bacteria. Pathogens such as Varroa mites, Nosema, fungal and bacterial infections, and Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus (IAPV) are found in large amounts in honeybee hives on the verge of collapse. …

Neonicotinoids affect insects’ central nervous systems in ways that are cumulative and irreversible. Even minute amounts can have profound effects over time.

The disappearance of bee colonies began accelerating in the United States shortly after the EPA allowed these new insecticides on the market in the mid-2000s. The lawsuit alleges that the EPA allowed the neonicotinoids to remain on the market despite clear warning signs of a problem.

It also alleges the EPA acted outside of the law by allowing conditional registration of the pesticides, a measure that allows a product to enter the market despite the absence of certain data.”

What you can do to help honey bees

From the Mercola article:

Educate yourself and your family; “to learn more about the economic, political and ecological implications of the worldwide disappearance of the honeybee, check out the documentary film Vanishing of the Bees.

If you’d like to get involved, here are four actions you can take to help preserve and protect our honeybees:

  1. Support organic farmers and shop at local farmer’s markets as often as possible. You can “vote with your fork” three times a day. (When you buy organic, you are making a statement by saying “no” to GMOs and toxic pesticides!)
  2. Cut the use of toxic chemicals in your house and on your lawn, and use only organic, all-natural forms of pest control.
  3. Better yet, replace your lawn with native landscaping, a garden or other natural habitat. Lawns offer very little benefit for the environment. Both flower and vegetable gardens provide excellent natural honeybee habitats.
  4. Become an amateur beekeeper. Having a hive in your garden requires only about an hour of your time per week, benefits your local ecosystem, and you can enjoy your own honey!”

 For more information

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