Many arrows point to the bee decline. A Harvard professor recently warned that Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) is only the beginning for us. The ripple effect from new classes of pesticides is just getting started.
But there’s more…
The problems they face can be compared to a kaleidoscope, where the shapes are layered, interconnected, many and morphing.
It’s not only pesticides that lead to pollinator death – it’s more. It’s other things, the combination of things, thought to be harmless to bees and to humans.
Quartz reported last year:
Scientists had struggled to find the trigger for so-called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) that has wiped out an estimated 10 million beehives, worth $2 billion, over the past six years. Suspects have included pesticides, disease-bearing parasites and poor nutrition. But in a first-of-its-kind study published today in the journal PLOS ONE, scientists at the University of Maryland and the US Department of Agriculture have identified a witch’s brew of pesticides and fungicides contaminating pollen that bees collect to feed their hives. The findings break new ground on why large numbers of bees are dying though they do not identify the specific cause of CCD, where an entire beehive dies at once.
Researchers fed pollen to bees from hives on the East Coast finding that the study bees were more likely to succumb to a parasite that can help lead to Colony Collapse Disorder. In the pollen it was discovered that there was a chemical cocktail of nine different pesticides and fungicides. One sample showed 21 chemicals and the bees exposed to fungicidal food were three times as likely to catch the parasite. (source)
In short, fungicides, thought to be safe to those that aren’t fungi, are an oft-overlooked bee killer – especially when combined with others, where the effects are not seen immediately.
“Inert” ingredients are often worse than the main ingredients of chemical pesticides (Marla Spivak, below) – the combo of ingredients creates a multiplying effect. Neonicotinoids synergize with some fungicides heavily introduced in the mid-2000s when we saw a sharp bee drop-off. That makes fungicides more toxic to them and kills the immune response needed to withstand gut pathogens. This PAN writer explains the train wreck very well.
It’s the cocktail mixture that does them in… Furthermore, there are spraying practices to consider, according to the researchers. Although they pull their focus away from neonicotinoids, it should not be forgotten that neonics are often treated on the seed, sometimes on the ground – they permeate the whole plant and do not wash off. They are indeed indicative of CCD. Sadly, the pollen samples tested on the bees were from wild weeds and flowers, not crop plantation, signifying that chemical residues do not stay with ag fields.
Picture someone with severe chemical sensitivity and all the health problems that come with it like new allergies and digestive disorders. At one point, the cumulative effect of toxins reached a tipping point. Even catching a whiff of just one more chemical sends them into sickness.
It’s not just one problem that pollinators face…
Marla Spivak in the talk above pointed out the same parallel that a Harvard professor recently did regarding the loss of our bees – that with all the burdens they are trying to survive, they are holding up a large mirror for us. Is the human race to follow the path of pollinators, on its way to collapse?
Recent posts by Heather Callaghan: