Honeybees killed, even by ‘relatively safe’ neonicotinoids

This video is called How Neonicotinoids Kill Bees.

From PLOS One:

An Observational Study of Honey Bee Colony Winter Losses and Their Association with Varroa destructor, Neonicotinoids and Other Risk Factors

Romée van der Zee, Alison Gray, Lennard Pisa, Theo de Rijk

July 8, 2015


This article presents results of an analysis of honey bee losses over the winter of 2011-2012 in the Netherlands, from a sample of 86 colonies, located at 43 apiaries. The apiaries were selected using spatially stratified random sampling. Colony winter loss data were collected and related to various measures of colony strength recorded in summer, as well as data from laboratory analysis of sample material taken from two selected colonies in each of the 43 apiaries. The logistic regression model which best explained the risk of winter loss included, in order of statistical importance, the variables:

(1) Varroa destructor mite infestation rate in October 2011, (2) presence of the cyano-substituted neonicotinoids acetamiprid or thiacloprid in the first 2 weeks of August 2011 in at least one of the honey bee matrices honey, bees or bee bread (pollen), (3) presence of Brassica napus (oilseed rape) or Sinapis arvensis (wild mustard) pollen in bee bread in early August 2011, and (4) a measure of the unexplained winter losses for the postal code area where the colonies were located, obtained from a different dataset.

We consider in the discussion that reduced opportunities for foraging in July and August because of bad weather may have added substantially to the adverse effects of acetamiprid and thiacloprid. A novel feature of this work is its use of postal code random effects from two other independent datasets collected in the annual national monitoring by questionnaires of winter losses of honey bees in the Netherlands. These were used to plan the sample selection and also in the model fitting of the data in this study. It should however be noted that the results of the present pilot study are based on limited data, which may consequently reveal strong factors but fail to demonstrate possible interaction effects.

As one of the authors of this explained this morning on Dutch radio, acetamiprid and thiacloprid are considered to be ‘harmless’ compared to other neonicotinoids. However, even they …

Neonicotinoid insecticide travels through a soil food chain, disrupting biological control of non-target pests and decreasing soya bean yield: here.

Beekeepers and researchers will welcome the unveiling of the small hive beetle’s genome by scientists. The small hive beetle (SHB) is a major parasite problem of honey bees for which there are few effective treatments. Completing the SHB genome takes on even more importance when you realize that among the SHB’s close relatives are the destructive and invasive Asian longhorned beetle: here.

26 thoughts on “Honeybees killed, even by ‘relatively safe’ neonicotinoids

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