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The Perfect Crime: What's Killing All the Bees?

Discussion in 'Nature/Habitat/Garden Corner' started by KTdid, May 20, 2014.

  1. KTdid

    KTdid Well-Known Member

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    On a fine June morning last year at a Target store outside Portland, Oregon, customers arrive to a startling sight: the parking lot was covered with a seething mat of bumblebees, some staggering around, most already dead, more raining down from above. The die-off lasted several days.

    It didn't take long to figure out that the day before a pest-control company had sprayed a powerful insecticide on surrounding Linden trees to protect them from aphids; but nobody warned the bees to stay away. In the end, an estimated 50,000 bumblebees perished.

    The tragedy at Target wiped out as many as 300 bumblebee colonies of bees no longer available to pollinate nearby trees and flowers.

    The deadly pesticide is one of a fairly new family known as the neonicotinoids—“neonics” for short—developed a decade or so ago to replace organophosphates and carbamates, which are also highly toxic but dissipate far more quickly.


    Scores of plants—fruits, vegetables, ornamentals—are sprayed with neonics. The chemical penetrates the leaves and is taken up by the plant’s vascular system, turning the plant poisonous to insects eating the leaves, pollen and nectar. Alternatively, the plant’s seeds are soaked or the soil is treated with the chemical, with the same result. This is convenient for keeping beetles off your roses. It is lethal for bees and other pollinators

    And even if it doesn’t kill directly, as happened at the Target lot, sub-lethal doses interfere with the bees’ immune systems and make them vulnerable to pests. They can also damage the bees’ ability to navigate back to the hive.
    Several of the neonics, incidentally, are made by Bayer, the same Bayer that made the aspirin in your medicine cabinet. Bayer is a German company; yet, since 2013, neonics may not be used on bee-attractive crops in Germany or any other country in the European Union.

    This prohibition on use in the EU is a manifestation of what’s known as the Precautionary Principle, a fancy way of saying “Look before you leap.” In the United States we do it backwards: Chemicals are deemed innocent until proven guilty, sometimes with disastrous results.

    Read more here http://earthjustice.org/features/th...ng-honey-bee?utm_source=crm&utm_content=blurb

     

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