It has been a busy spring season for bee research. Last week, C&EN ran a news story about field research suggesting a link between pestides used in seed treatments and honeybee deaths. And C&EN’s Elizabeth Wilson has reported on two new studies that show that exposure to pesticides may interfere with the hive health of both honeybees and bumblebees.
The pesticides are from the neonicotinoid family, and include clothianidin and imidacloprid. Their use as seed treatments actually reduces the need to spray incecticides on to the plant’s leaves. Instead, small doses in a seed coating confer systemic protection to the plant as it grows. (Formulations of the products may also be used as foliar sprays).
The question that these studies are trying to explore is whether, and to what extent, use of neonicidinoids contribute to massive die-offs of bees, commonly called Colony Collapse Disorder.
In Europe, Italy, Germany, and France have placed restrictions – some are temporary – on the use of neonicitinoids in agriculture. The rules vary widely by country. Earlier this month beekeepers and environmentalists in the U.S. petitioned EPA to ban the use of clothianidin.
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