Skip to content

Pollinators and Pesticides - A look at modern Neurotoxins

Pesticides and Pollinators - A look at Modern Neurotoxins (ppt file)- Slide presentation by Gary Rondeau prepared for 2014 SAVE the BEES event.  ppt file has comment for many slides that will aid in understanding the presentation.  PDF version does not have comments.

Should Oregon Sustainable Beekeepers Go Away?

March 6, 2020

Oregon Sustainable Beekeepers was started 10 years ago when we still had hope for the bees.  After a decade of persistent bee die offs, the casual beekeepers are discouraged and the commercial operators are on the ropes.  We started our small club with the hope that we could do our part to change the way the world viewed pesticides and their impact on pollinator health.  It is disheartening work to see good science see the light of day, but then for public policy to only reflect corporate interests.  Meanwhile, every year we have to pick up the pieces of yet another die off and try to resurrect what is left of our colonies.

Our little group gradually went our separate ways, and new contributions to this site ceased several years ago.  It is time to let the site go as well.  This will be the last year I renew the domain name, unless I hear from a volunteer with the desire to carry on the work.  Let me know!

May bees be with you.




Bi-Mart and Spring Creek Nursery Update

April 12, 2016

A representative of Spring Creek Nursery (that supplies Bi-Mart) has indicated that they have stopped using neonics and are working to certify that all their own suppliers have done the same (See exchange in comments under the post on Bi-Mart’s carrying of neonic-treated plants)

Thank you for your care for the pollinators we all depend on!

Whistleblower suit filed against USDA for suppressing “neonic” research

November 8, 2015

Jonathan Lundgren, an entomologist with eleven years as a scientist with the USDA’s Agriculture Research Service, filed a whistleblower complaint last month  (October 2015) alleging that the federal agency suppressed the results of his research on “neonics”, which indicate serious harms of this class of pesticides to polllinators.

As noted by Carey Gillam in the Bee Buzz blog of Bee Culture Magazine, Lundgren is the first to file a formal complaint in the wake of questions about the scientific integrity of research by USDA scientists, which highlight the suppression of scientific findings on a range of topics that contradict the interests of powerful corporations.

Following submission to a scientific journal of Lundgren’s research indicating the harms of “neonics” to honeybees and Monarch butterflies, USDA managers blocked publication of his research, barred him from talking to the media, and disrupted operations at the laboratory he oversaw, according to the complaint filed with the federal  Merit Systems Protection Board.

Let’s Get Ace/True Value Hardware to Stop Selling Neonics!

October 15, 2015

Here is a link to find or create a petition in your area to put pressure on True Value to stop selling neonics:

Thanks to all of you who are helping in this effort. Beekeepers working to go treatment-free can get good genetics into bee populations (the bees are helping us with this!), but they can’t get bees to survive when they are being poisoned. This is especially hazardous when the general public buys flowers unaware.

Oregon Bi-Mart Plant Supplier Uses Neonics

October 9, 2015

Do not buy the new fall flowers at the Bi-Mart in Eugene . They come from Spring Creek Nursery and have been treated with neonics as young plants.  I was told by the personnel at Bi-Mart that the nursery assured them that the neonics are all gone by the time the flowers are purchased and planted.  But we know this is not true.  Neonics are systemic, which means they remain in the plants , and every cell of that plant delivers poison to the bees who visit it.

Folks at this worker-owned store and customers who buy there are given misinformation or no information at all in this respect.  My dear elderly neighbor across the street who loves bees fills his garden with store-bought mums, which may or may not be poisonous to the bees he wants to help.  I must admit I have not the heart to ask him where he gets his flowers.

Here is what you can do about Bi-Mart, as a sympathetic employee told me.  Mail the “Did we get it right?” pamphlet with your protest of the use of neonics to the district headquarters.  Don’t leave it off at local stores, as they have no power to change this.

Currently there is little nectar available for local bees, so they will readily come to that small patio pot.  Make sure it does not contain bee poison!

Every time you purchase a blooming flower, be sure to ask whether its supplier uses neonics.  Good news in our area is that Peoria Gardens does not use these– and supplies Grays and Down to Earth. And as documented here, Home Depot and Lowe’s are planning to eliminate them. Wilco Farm Store’s suppliers also do not use neonics.

Thank you to all who helped to make this change.

Canadian beekeepers sue Bayer and Syngenta over neonicotinoids

September 6, 2014

This class action lawsuit, filed in Ontario Superior Court, asks 400 million dollars in damages stemming from the losses to beekeepers caused by neonicotinoids manufactured by these corporations.

The goal of this lawsuit is to stop the use of these bee-killing pesticides.

Thanks to the Canadian beekeepers for taking a stand not only on behalf of all those who keep bees, but those who rely on bees for our food (that means all of us!)



Blog post gets Published!

July 22, 2014

What started out as a bit of curiosity about the time-dependent toxicity of insecticides led to a blog piece I did a little over a year ago titled Time-dependent Toxicity of Imidacloprid in Bees and Ants.  I thought my results were interesting enough to get a comment from other scientists that were looking at the time-dependent toxicity question so I sent out the link to a few.  With the encouragement of especially Dr.Fransico Sanchez-Bayo at the University of Sydney in Austrailia, I went ahead expanded the research and we turned that blog post into a paper.  I am especaily grateful to my co-authors, especially Fransico Sanchez-Bayo and Nicolas Desneux, who shepparded the manuscript through the journal submission and review process.

So please take a look at the real thing.  We were published in Nature’s online publication Scientific Reports.

Delayed and time-cumulative toxicity of imidacloprid in bees, ants and termites,
Gary Rondeau, Francisco Sanchez-Bayo, Henk A. Tennekes, Axel Decourtye,
Ricardo Ramırez-Romero & Nicolas Desneux, Scientific Reports  07/2014; 4(5566):8. DOI: 10.1038/srep05566

It’s not just the bees, it’s the birds

July 9, 2014

Research out of the Netherlands, to be published tomorrow (7.10.2014) in the prestigious journal Nature, demonstrates a strong correlation between the  decline of insect-eating bird species and presence of neonics in the environment.  Comparable declines in bird species did not take place in the same areas before neonics were used, nor does it take place today even on farmland where bird habitat is undermined but neonic contamination is lower. Co-authors Caspar A. Hallmann, Ruud P. B. Foppen,Chris A. M. van Turnhout,Hans de Kroon & Eelke Jongejans speculate that neonics deplete food sources for several bird species through the sustained poisoning of non-target insects:

“Our results suggest that the impact of neonicotinoids on the natural environment is even more substantial than has recently been reported and is reminiscent of the effects of persistent insecticides in the past. Future legislation should take into account the potential cascading effects of neonicotinoids on ecosystems.”



Please Report Dead Bees

July 7, 2014

In the wake of two recent bumblebee die offs in Eugene and Portland resulting from pesticide poisoning, it is especially important to report suspected pesticide poisonings to the Oregon Department of Agriculture.

If you are a beekeeper who finds more than 50 dead bees in any single area or  colony, contact the Oregon Department of Agriculture: or (503) 986-6466.


Pollinator Peril – Research Highlights

March 20, 2014

Two years ago I made poster for our educational bee event called Keeping our Bees Alive – The Challenges.  At that time we knew that the neonicotinoid insecticides were likely a big problem, but we had a hard time figuring out why sometimes the bees seemed to tolerate the pesticides and other times bee colonies with a modest exposure could collapse.  The multi-factor nature of the problem was apparent, and is illustrated in that poster.

This year I concentrated on what we have learned in the last two years that can help us solve the colony collapse puzzle.  This year, Pollinator Peril – Reserach Highlights presented research that shows how the neonicotinoids interact syynergiysticly with common bee pathogens, making the bees much more suseptible to natural diseases.  This research goes a long way to explaining why there can be such a variable response to neonicotinoid exposure, since it is usually the pathogens that kill the bees in colony collapse, not the neonicotinoids directly, and the pathogens need to be present as well as the insecticide for devestating losses.

The poster can be viewed here: Pollinator Peril – Reserach Highlights

Live links to the original research and referenced papers are provided below.

1.Aufauvre J, Biron DG, Vidau C, Fontbonne R, Roudel M, et al. (2012)  Parasite-insecticide interactions: a case study of Nosema ceranae and fipronil synergy on honeybee. Sci. Rep. 2: 326.
2.Cornman RS, Tarpy DR, Chen Y, Jeffreys L, Lopez D, et al. (2012) Pathogen Webs in Collapsing Honey Bee Colonies. PLoS ONE 7(8): e43562. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0043562
3.Di Prisco G, Cavaliere V, Annoscia D, Varricchio P, Caprio E, et al. (2013) Neonicotinoid clothianidin adversely affects insect immunity and promotes replication of a viral pathogen in honeybees PNAS2013, doi:10.1073/pnas.1314923110
4.EFSA. 2013.Conclusion on the peer review of the pesticide risk assessment for bees for the active substance imidacloprid . EFSA J 11:3068.
5.Feltham H, Park K, and Goulson, D. (2014)  Field realistic doses of pesticide imidacloprid reduce bumblebee pollen foraging efficiency.  Ecotoxicology   doi: 10.1007/s10646-014-1189-7
6.Gill RJ, Ramos-Rodriguez O, Raine NE (2012) Combined pesticide exposure severely affects individual- and colony-level traits in bees. Nature 491: 105-108.
7.Krupke CH, Hunt GJ, Eitzer BD, Andino G, Given K (2012) Multiple Routes of Pesticide Exposure for Honey Bees Living Near Agricultural Fields. PLoS ONE 7(1): e29268. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0029268
8.New York Times, March 29, 2013.  Mystery Malady Kills More Bees, Heightening Worry on Farms.
9.New York Times, January 29, 2014.  Migration of Monarch Butterflies Shrinks Again Under Inhospitable Conditions.
10.Pettis JS, Lichtenberg EM, Andree M, Stitzinger J, Rose R, et al. (2013) Crop Pollination Exposes Honey Bees to Pesticides Which Alters Their Susceptibility to the Gut Pathogen Nosema ceranae. PLoS ONE 8(7): e70182. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0070182
11.Rondeau G.  (2013) Time-dependent toxicity of imidacloprid on bees and ants.
12.Tennekes HA, Sánchez-Bayo F. (2013) The molecular basis of simple relationships between exposure concentration and toxic effects with time. Toxicology 309:39-51.
13.White, G. The problem with pesticides: it’s the birds and the bees.  The Beekeepers Quarterly 111 March 2013
%d bloggers like this: