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Pesticides Not the Only Thing Killing Honeybees

February 07, 2016

Bee Colony Collapse

Decline in Honeybee Populations Due to More than Pesticides, Entomologists Say

Tom Turpin, a Purdue University entomologist, believes that there is “no such thing” as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) in spite of the efforts by environmental groups to encourage the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to enforce litigation that better regulates the use of neonicotinoids--this according to an article posted on EPNewsWire.com. These groups believe that the use of pesticides, specifically neonicotinoids, is the leading cause of CCD and population decline in honeybee colonies.

Many private environmental groups and several beekeepers have actually filed a lawsuit against the EPA as a means to challenge the small number of regulations that currently have on neonicotinoids, which are classified as “systemic pesticides” that coat the entire seed of a plant. While Turpin does not believe Colony Collapse Disorder exists, he does not deny that there have been some significant decreases in honeybee populations over the most recent decades.

“Research shows that neonicotinoid insecticides (like almost any insecticide) kill honeybees,” Turpin told EP News Wire. “Certainly mortality of honeybees, regardless of the cause and if extensive enough, can result in the death of honey bee colonies.” While Turpin went on to explain that there indeed has been a significant decrease in the number of honeybee colonies in the wild, he does not believe that pesticides alone are the reason for these losses. “Several factors including diseases, mites, exposure to insecticides, and unusually warm winters have contributed to colony death,” Turpin said.

While the decline in honeybee populations was never in question, Turpin does have issue with the concept of Colony Collapse Disorder. He explained that “so-called colony collapse disorder is not a specific disorder, but a perfect storm combination of inimical factors that result in the death of the colony. Managed colonies can also suffer from lack of proper care, such as a lack of stored honey to support them during winter months, especially in warmer-than-normal seasons when the bees fly more often than necessary and use up stored food resources,” Turpin said.

While pesticides and neonicotinoids are a concern, Turpin believes that these chemicals can be managed and used responsibly so that they do not harm native wildlife like honeybees. “As has always been the case, honeybee colony success is partially the result of mutual efforts between beekeepers and crop growers to minimize the impact from insecticides." Turpin believes that these two industries working together to find a mutually beneficial solution is the “best way” to protect the honeybees.

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