Archive for the ‘bees’ Category

Pesticides have been linked to drastic increase in bee deaths during winter

Pesticides have been linked to drastic increase in bee deaths during winter


Neonicotinoids are neuro-active pesticides that cause bees to become disoriented and unco-ordinated, as well as cause them to develop tremors and other neurological problems that often lead to their deaths. Ontario has moved to limit the use of pesticides

The Ontario government has moved to limit the use of neonicotinoid pesticides amid  growing evidence that the substances are responsible for drastic reductions in bee populations in the province.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs laid out a three-point initiative Tuesday that it says will ensure “healthy ecosystems” and a “productive agricultural sector” while reversing the downward trend of pollinator numbers.

The strategy includes

  • An 80 per cent reduction in acreage planted with neonicotinoid-treated corn and soybean seed by 2017.
  • Limiting the number of honey bees that die during winter by 15 per cent by 2020.
  • Developing a “comprehensive” action plan for pollinator health.

The ministry will consult with stakeholders on a proposal to reduce neonicotinoid-treated seed, and if the proposal moves forward, new rules will be in place by July 1 — in time for the following years planting season.

In October, Ontario’s environmental watchdog urged the province to act before the completion of a federal study that could see recommendations to limit the use of the pesticides nationwide.

The Ontario Provincial Winter Loss Survey, an annual effort to measure the survival rate of bees over winter, found that deaths reached a record-high 58 per cent last winter. According to the Ontario Beekeepers’ Association, which welcomed the announcement, that rate of loss is over three times the average of all other Canadian provinces.

Grain farmers decry move

Various studies have linked the pesticide group directly to bee fatality, but also a host of sub-lethal effects such as disorientation, which in turn can result in colony collapse.

Tuesday’s announcement was met with skepticism by the Grain Farmers of Ontario, which immediately issued a release claiming that the province’s grain farmers are “under attack” and that an 80 per cent restriction amounts to a “total ban on the product,” despite efforts and investments on their part to reduce bee deaths.

“This new regulation is unfounded, impractical, and unrealistic and the government does not know how to implement it,” said Henry Van Ankum in the statement. He added that the announcement is evidence that “popular vote trumps science and practicality.”

Neonicotinoid pesticides were already banned by the European Union. An outright ban in Canada would have to be issued by Health Canada.








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Pesticides hit bees harder when they're eating junk food, study finds

When bees from commercially run hives go out looking for food, they’re basically limited to eating nectar and pollen from the crops farmers want pollinated. That can be problematic for the insect’s diet — and their long-term survival amid the mass die-off of honeybees over the past decade.

That’s what Penn State entomologist Christina Grozinger discovered while in the middle of a recent bee research study. She and her colleagues originally set out to look at the effects of pesticides on bee genes, but when they started seeing the consequences a restricted diet had on bees, they were intrigued.

Soon, they changed course and set out to find out what a bad diet means for the health of commercial honeybees, who pollinate a third of the world’s food supply.

In a study published Friday in The Journal of Insect Physiology, Grozinger and her colleagues gave test bees a soy-based diet, a no-protein diet, or a natural, varied diet of pollen. At the same time, the bees were given a lethal dose of the pesticide chlorpyrifos, an insecticide frequently used on agricultural crops. After 16 days, they counted which bees survived the longest.

What did they find? Nature does it best.

Bees who ate the natural diet of varied pollen sources survived longer — an average of four days longer — than the bees on artificial diets. While that may not sound like much, Grozinger said it’s actually significant.

“When you think of a whole colony of 50,000 bees, during those four extra days they can contribute to the good of the colony,” she said.

The researchers still aren’t quite sure why diet has such a big effect on the bee’s mortality. It could be that a healthier diet helps them detoxify pesticides better.

Still, it looks like the best diets for bees are the most diverse.

“Different pollens have different nutritional profiles,” Grozinger said. “Bees need a complex diet to get all the nutrients they need — just like humans.”

That’s the opposite of what commercial bees get. Their diets typically come from a single pollen source — supplemented seasonally with a non-pollen source of protein like soy or egg yolks.

The researchers’ next study will examine what an optimal diet is for bees, and if bees go out in search of the exact macronutrients they need.

“Anything we can do to improve bees’ survival is important, and having better and more diverse forage sources is important,” Grozinger said. She pointed out that bees face multiple threats: pesticides, poor nutrition, pathogens, and parasites. “Good nutrition can help bees handle multiple stressors,” she said.

PETITION @ BASE OF:http://mashable.com/2014/11/10/pesticides-bees/

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Part of Points to Ponder…pps

5 things u can do-LST


Thanks to LST





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Through a four-week study on bumblebees, Nigel Raine, an expert in pollinator conservation at the University of Guelph, found that the neonicotinoids, which are neurotoxins, affect bumblebees’ ability to find and collect food.

“When the neonicotinoid-treated bees go out of the colony for the first time to look for flowers, something about their exposure to that pesticide means that they’re less able to collect as much pollen as the bees that are untreated,” he told the CBC Radio program Quirks & Quarks.

“And that impact only gets worse over time, because the untreated bees improve their performance and their ability.”

In turn, that leads to smaller colonies, which in turn means that fewer queens are produced, a phenomenon that decreases the number of new bumblebee colonies.

Pollinators, including honeybees and wild pollinators, are in decline around the world, Dr. Raine said, adding that a host of factors is thought to be responsible.

Pierre Petelle, vice-president of chemistry at CropLife Canada, told Quirks & Quarks that the industry’s studies suggest that neonicotinoids are not one of them.

The insecticides — known as “neonics” for short — are responsible for some bee deaths in Ontario and Quebec in 2012, after dust kicked up from their application reached some colonies.

Petelle said both manufacturers and farmers are working to make changes to the way the pesticide is applied and are resolving those problems.

The European Community has banned some neonics for two years and the Ontario government is considering a plan to reduce or eliminate some of them.

Beekeepers in Ontario have launched a $400-million lawsuit against neonic manufacturers.

Birds’ food may be at risk from neonics

When it comes to birds, the question is whether neonics are such an effective insecticide that they are killing off the aquatic bugs that birds need to eat, leaving too little food for them.

Christy Morrissey, an ecotoxicologist at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, found last year that 90 per cent of prairie potholes were laced with small amounts of neonics in the spring before farmers planted their fields. That means the chemicals stay in the soil and then wash into the water through rain or snow.

“Insecticides or pesticides in general are not supposed to be on the market if they persist [in the environment],” Morrissey told Quirks & Quarks from her research site in Saskatchewan.

“We do not want chemicals that are designed to kill lasting in the environment for weeks, months or years. …You want pesticides to be applied, do their job, kill the pest and then be gone.”

Now, Dr. Morrissey is in the midst of a study in the field studying exactly how different levels of neonics affect aquatic insects in prairie potholes, in tandem with a long-term study examining the health of tree swallows nearby.

It’s a bid to examine whether neonics are affecting the bugs and, consequently, the birds that rely on them. Her early results show that birds living near treated fields are slightly delayed in laying their eggs, and the chicks are not as healthy.

A Dutch study by Caspar Hallmann ​at the Institute for Water and Wetland Research at Radboud University in the Netherlands,​ and others published this summer found larger annual declines in insect-eating birds in areas with higher surface-water concentrations of the most popular type of neonic, imidacloprid.

It concluded that the impact of the chemical is “reminiscent of the effects of persistent insecticides in the past.”

CropLife Canada’s Petelle said the concentrations of neonics Dr. Morrissey is finding in the field are too low to affect aquatic insects.

He said neonics are the safest chemical solution that has been introduced in a long time, one reason that agriculture has never been more sustainable than today.

“And so the studies that have been conducted on these products in field conditions show that at those concentrations, there is no risk for aquatic insects or other wildlife,” he said.

Dr. Morrissey told Quirks & Quarks, however, that the industry is relying on studies conducted on the water flea, Daphnia magna, an aquatic crustacean.

While it is the industry standard for testing, it happens to be almost uniquely insensitive to neonics. Compared to other insects tested, it is an average of 1,000 times less sensitive, and compared to the aquatic insects birds like to eat, it is between 10,000 and 100,000 times less sensitive, she said.

Neonics, which are derived from nicotine, are the newest class of insecticides and they are used in a new way: as a coating for crop seeds rather than mainly as a spray on growing crops.

In Canada, all canola and corn seeds planted are coated, as well as half of soybeans and some seeds of other crops. They are systemic pesticides, which means they infuse every cell of the plant as it grows, right from the roots to the leaves, seeds, nectar and pollen.

And they are used as a prophylactic, whether there is a pest infestation or not.

An analysis of 800 studies released this summer, called the Task Force on Systemic Pesticides, concluded that the chemicals, including neonics, are having widespread effects on ecosystems around the world beyond their intended function of killing crop pests.

The scientists who conducted the review study said governments should plan for a global phase-out or at least a plan for farmers to use them only when their crops are actually threatened by insects.

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also posted to facebook

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Sent as e-mail; had to edit this posting

plant these II

Thanks to DRS x2

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Sent as e-mail


Thanks to MjS

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