Saving the bees is not simple

Pesticides can kill bees, of course, but they are not the sole reason for the collapse of colonies across the world, entomologist Gwen Pearson writes in a thought-provoking, if depressing, piece on Wired

Even if we did ban pesticides – which there is no sign we are willing to do – the bees would still be facing a multitude of problems.

Pearson lists just some of the factors causing colonies to collapse

  • Parasites (Varroa mite and Tracheal mite);
  • Exposure to pesticides we put in beehives to control parasitic mites;
  • Diseases (Israeli Acute Paralysis virus, Nosema, etc.);
  • Poor nutrition due to loss of floral food sources;
  • Pesticides in the bees’ environment;
  • At least 14 other diseases, fungi, and parasites.

But it’s more complex than that, as research published this week in PLOS suggests. In the experiment, researchers deliberately fed honey bee colonies a pesticide, imidacloprid, to assess their response.

The conclusion: pesticides alone are not causing wholesale collapse of hives – but they are making every other problem worse.

Please login to favourite this article.