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More Data Implicates Fungicides in Colony Collapse

November 30, 2013

A study by University of Maryland and US Department of Agriculture researchers just published in PLOS ONE indicates that fungicides in pollen weaken the ability of honeybees to withstand nosema–thus making honeybee colonies more susceptible to Colony Collapse Disorder.

This work adds to the research on the toxic effects of “neonics” on bees by indicating important additional stresses on  honeybees :

1) Bees are made susceptible to colony collapse disorder by foraging pollen  in crops NOT directly sprayed with pesticides, but with low levels of several different pesticides resulting from drift.  Thus saving our bees demands more stringent  spray regulations than those currently in practice.

2) Fungicides, which had been assumed to be harmless to bees, weaken bees’ immune systems even with very low exposure.  Far from being harmless, they are a key player in colony collapse.

3)  It is difficult to pin the cause of colony collapse disorder on a single toxin because modern bees are regularly exposed to a large number of pesticides in the pollen they forage– with complex synergistic effects.

Since PLOS ONE is an open access journal, you can review this essay and its data at the link above.

In order to save our honeybees, we need not only to get “neonics” out of our pesticide arsenal, but radically cut back on fungicide use. This is a special challenge in the Pacific Northwest given our wet climate– but the survival of our bees, both native and honeybees, demands it.

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