Friday, July 26, 2013

Bee Colonies Are Dying From "Non-Lethal" Fungicides


Even if it won't cause World War III, bees are responsible for pollinating $30 billion worth of crops in the US alone, and if there aren't bees, there isn't food. So we have a more-than-vested interest in figuring out why bee colonies have been dying off for the last six years.

A new study tries to zero in on what's killing, shocking, perhaps soon agriculturally-crippling, numbers of bees. Published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, this latest research on what's behind colony collapse disorder finds it's a whole hell of a lot of things: chemicals not commonly thought to be overly hurtful to bees are dangerous;  chemicals are making bees more susceptible to parasites; and banning one class of pesticides is really just one part of the solution. Basically: it's all of chemically-intensive modern agriculture.

That last sentence may veer towards overstatement and oversimplification, but it's not really off the mark.

The researchers from the University of Maryland and the USDA found, after collecting pollen from hives on the East Coast that had been pollinating a variety of crops and giving it to healthy bees, is that those healthy bees become less able to resist a common bee parasite that is already implicated in colony collapse disorder. 

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