The most recent research report studying declines in honey bee populations studied the amounts of agricultural pesticides found in hundreds of samples of pollen, wax , royal jelly, honey and bees taken from hundreds of beehives some were from sick colonies, others weren't sick. The results are pretty scary.
Importantly, the results also show the amounts and kinds of beekeeper applied pesticides found in those hundreds of samples taken from these same beehives. These results may be even scarier. That beekeepers have made matters worse trying to make matters better is a conundrum we'll explore next time, but for now, know that they have.
The hundreds of colonies sampled were in a variety of locations, and were in included in a variety of ongoing studies. Some samples were taken from apiaries that had no symptoms of colony collapse disorder. Some were declining from or already dead from colony collapse disorder. Others were taken from a study of a migratory operation moving on the east coast during a series of pollination jobs on several crops, while others were taken from a particular apple orchard pollination study. Some samples were taken from beeswax foundation sheets... those used by beekeepers to guide their bees in comb-building, and are purchased from suppliers and put in new or rebuilt frames. This is a whole different disaster, but it comes from the same set of villains and heroes.
You just know that honey bees and pesticides can't do well when mixed, right? Honey bees forage in the real world looking for food. That's what they do. They rummage around agricultural crops while they are being sprayed, right after they are sprayed, and long after systemic pesticides were added and have soaked into the pollen and nectar rewards the bees seek. They didn't get the SPRAY TODAY memo I guess. They cruise over lawns looking for clover and other blooming weeds and while they're there they check out your backyard garden, that small orchard next door and just about everywhere there's a flower to visit.
Bees are like tiny dust mops. They gather in all the things they encounter and bring them back home. Pollen is the obvious dust-like material they collect. Pollen is the protein they feed to their young... the future of the colony. Feeding poison to your children is a crime almost everywhere. Except here.
All the foraging bees in a colony land on millions and millions of flowers seeking nectar during the flowering season. And anything on those flower petals or leaves sticks to their feet and gets brought back home. They are always looking for water, too, and sometimes puddles are not what they seem around farms and golf courses and homeowner's lawns, and that gets brought home too... and this toxic cocktail is their staple... their day to day diet... now made from poisonous parts per million.
So bees are encountering agricultural and landscape pesticides almost wherever they go. Now think about this: You go just about everywhere bees go. Walk on a treated lawn... pesticides go home with you. Walk through an apple orchard... pesticides on the ground, on the leaves, on the apples. What about your garden? Or the golf course you visit routinely? Do they spray for mosquitoes where you are? What about those tree boring beetles recently introduced into the U.S.? They're treating those trees with sprays and drenches and injections and it all goes to the leaves and flowers this spring. Got ants or termites at home? No more when the newest bait gets going and everybody forgets where they live.
Got Weeds? Not anymore. Herbicides took care of that problem wherever weeds shouldn't be. Not a dandelion to be seen anywhere... in lawns, center strips on city streets... and those herbicides land on leaves that bees land on too. And home they go, another ingredient in the diet of death.
We live in the same pesticide-laden soup our bees do, and now we can prove it's a killing field. This study is the classic "you won't find it if you don't look, but now we've looked."
What we found is killing our bees. How long do we have?
Enter your city or zip code to get your local temperature and air quality and find local green food and recycling resources near you.