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.
Bill Condie is a science journalist based in Adelaide, Australia.
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