'Neonics' Require Care Not to Harm Pollinators

Many gardeners have heard of neonicotinoids -- they’ve frequently been in the news in recent years -- but what exactly are they? Why is there so much concern with bees, butterflies and other beneficial insects, and how long do these product stay active in plants?

Spotlight articles

Spotlight Article #1

Bee Parasite

The Bee Apocalypse was Never Real; Here's Why

If you were concerned after reading a sentence like - Populations of honeybees have crashed in recent years, and many researchers have pointed the blame at a class of widely used insecticides called neonicotinoids, - you are not alone. That’s how an otherwise excellent article in The Scientist summarizing a recent USDA study on honeybees’ molecular responses to neonicotinoids began.

Spotlight Article #2

Great News: The Number of U.S. Honeybees Has Risen in 2017 From the Number in 2016

Over the past several years, honey bees have been facing a hard-to-define threat: colony collapse disorder. Extensive research on the disorder by the USDA has determined that the primary culprit is the Varroa destructor mite, which attaches itself to a host honey bee to leech food and energy until eventual death.

Spotlight Article #3

Find Out What Bell Nursery Learned About Bees While Keeping Beehives

Three years ago, Bell Nursery invested in 10 beehives to try and get a better understanding of the bee die-off in the area. The operation now manages 26 hives. A Top 100 Grower and Home Depot supplier, Bell Nursery CEO Gary Mangum was determined to find out what was happening to bees in his area, and why there was such a significant die-off. In 2014, the operation stopped using neonicotinoids, and invested in keeping beehives. Here’s what Mangum says his operation learned about bees, working with beekeepers and legislators, and his message for other growers.

Spotlight Article #4

Honey Bee Health Coalition Tools for Varroa Management

``...Download the Tools for Varroa Management Guide. This guide explains practical, effective methods to measure and control Varroa mite infestations.``.Source: Financial Post - 8th August, 2016

Spotlight Article #5

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Bees - Financial Post

USDA Honey Bee Colony Report

``...Honey bee colonies for operations with five or more colonies in the United States on January 1, 2017 totaled 2.62 million colonies, down slightly from January 1, 2016. The number of colonies in the United States on April 1, 2017 was 2.89 million colonies. During 2016, honey bee colonies on January 1, April 1, July 1, and October 1 were 2.62 million, 2.80 million, 3.18 million, and 3.03 million colonies, respectively.``.Source: Financial Post - 8th August, 2016

Spotlight Article #6

Varroa Mites

The mite that jumped, the bee that traveled, the disease that followed

``...researchers have investigated the myriad factors that contribute to the decline in honeybee populations. In particular, the aptly named Varroa destructor mite (see the photo) and the deformed wing virus (DWV) have been clearly linked to colony collapse``.

Source: Sciencemag.org, Science - 5 Feb 2016 - Vol 351 Issue 6273

Spotlight Article #7

Varroa Mites - Science Daily

Bee virus spread is humanmade, driven by European honeybee populations

In a recent study funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and supported by a Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship, evidence suggests ``the deformed wing virus (carried by Varroa Mite) is a major threat to honeybee populations across the world and this epidemic has been driven by the trade and movement of honeybee colonies.``

Spotlight Article #8

Huff Post Science

Bee Experts Dismantle Touted 'Harvard' Neonics-Colony Collapse Disorder Study As 'Activist Science'

''Although public opinion has coalesced around the belief that the bee death mystery is settled, the vast majority of scientists who study bees for a living disagree--vehemently.

How could a ``Harvard study`` and a sizable slice of the nation's press get this story so wrong?.

The buzz that followed the publication of Lu's latest study is a classic example of how dicey science can combine with sloppy reporting to create a 'false narrative'--a storyline with a strong bias that is compelling, but wrong. It's how simplistic ideas get rooted in the public consciousness. And it's how ideology-driven science threatens to wreak public policy havoc.''

Spotlight Article #9

Beepocalypse Not

“Beepocalypse” Not - Alarmist Honeybee Claims Collapse Under Scrutiny

Originally published in the American Bee Journal, this article by Angela Logomasini (April 2015) highlights the following:

``Concern about the survival of the European honeybee has blossomed into a media frenzy during the past severalyears, with activists declaring, “Beepocalypse”!
Beekeepers have seen see some of their honeybee hives disappear in recent years, and concerned observers have blamed the losses on everything from cell phones to genetically modified crops. The most frequently alleged culprit, though, is a class of pesticides known as neonicotinoids. But such alarmism is not supported by the facts. This parade of alarming news stories has led the European Union to place a moratorium on neonicotinoids, and U.S. policymakers are considering similar options. Such bans and restrictions will do more harm than good as more toxic chemicals replace neonicotinoids. This paper aims to sort fact from fiction and promote a more balanced understanding that will facilitate rational solutions for helping honeybees.``

Spotlight Article #10

Bee Parasite

Tracking a Parasite That Turns Bees Into Zombies

``As many as 80 percent of the hives that Dr. Hafernik examined in San Francisco Bay had been infected. Understanding more about how the infection spreads is important, he said, because although the infestations are not the main driver behind honeybee declines across the country, they could help collapse an already vulnerable colony.``

Spotlight Article #11

A Swarm of Controversy In Their Struggle for Survival Against Killer Mites, Bees Get an Unlikely Ally: Monsanto

“Make a fist,” says Jerry Hayes, waving his own in the air.

“Now put it someplace on you.” About 150 people, the audience at a honeybee panel at the 2014 South by Southwest Eco conference, place their fists on their shoulders or collarbones. “Proportionally, this is how large a varroa mite is compared to a honeybee’s body,” Hayes says. The reddish-brown parasite, just a dot to the naked eye, drains the life out of bees and delivers a deadly cargo of viruses. “It would be like having a parasitic rat on you, sucking your blood.”

Spotlight Article #12

Study Suggests Modern Beekeeping Gives Varroa Mites Ideal Conditions to Spread

As the managed honey bee industry continues to grapple with significant annual colony losses, the Varroa destructor mite is emerging as the leading culprit. And, it turns out, the very nature of modern beekeeping may be giving the parasite the exact conditions it needs to spread nearly beyond control.

A Swarm of Controversy In Their Struggle for Survival Against Killer Mites, Bees Get an Unlikely Ally: Monsanto

“Make a fist,” says Jerry Hayes, waving his own in the air.

“Now put it someplace on you.” About 150 people, the audience at a honeybee panel at the 2014 South by Southwest Eco conference, place their fists on their shoulders or collarbones. “Proportionally, this is how large a varroa mite is compared to a honeybee’s body,” Hayes says. The reddish-brown parasite, just a dot to the naked eye, drains the life out of bees and delivers a deadly cargo of viruses. “It would be like having a parasitic rat on you, sucking your blood.”

View Article

Science 2.0 - Bee Colonies In 2014 Increase Another 4 Percent

The National Agricultural Statistics Service of the United States Department of Agriculture has released its honey report for 2014 and found it's boom times for bees.

Hives increased again, another 4 percent, up to a whopping 2.74 million colonies, and honey production is up 19 percent. Yield per colony averaged 65.1 pounds, which is up 15 percent.

If there is a Beepocalypse, the bees have not gotten the memo.

View Article

Call off the bee-pocalypse

Call off the bee-pocalypse
The Washington Post
July 23, 2015

View Article

The fight to save the mighty honey bee

Five Thirty Eight - Science
The fight to save the mighty Honey Bee
February 11, 2015

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Pests invade Europe after Neonics ban

Genetic Literacy Project
Pests invade Europe after neonicotinoids ban, with no benefit to bee health
January 27, 2015

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How the white house plans to help the humble bee

Washington Post
How the White House plans to help the humble bee maintain its buzz
May 19, 2015

Honey Bee Productivity Increase
View Article

Bee researcher touts flower power

Capital Press
Bee researcher touts flower power
August 9, 2015

View Article

Hort and Pollinator groups come together

American Hort
Horticulture & Pollinator Groups Come Together for Research
January 27, 2015

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Neonic sprays given green light

Farmers Weekly
Neonic sprays given green light for use in oilseed rape
January 27, 2015

View Article

Bee population rising around the world

AG Professional
Bee population rising around the world
January 27, 2015

Other Articles Online

These articles represent information published online within the last 6-24 months

Growing Without Neonicotinoids

Greenhouse Grower Feature

In winter 2013, we decided to produce Bell Nursery’s spring 2014 crops without neonicotinoid pesticides. While the science does not exist proving that neonicotinoids (neonics) as a class do any significant harm to bee populations, we wanted to learn for ourselves about the impact of growing neonic-free. The verdict: we lost product that we would not have lost had we been using our normal chemical rotations.
Greenhouse Grower

Moving Forward

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Moving Forward With Lessons Learned

``We’re committed to ensuring appropriate and scientific research is funded, completed and shared with key audiences, including the public.``Read More

Embracing Change

``The more research we’ve seen the more we believe this is, in fact, the safest class of pesticides available.``Read More

Please note that all articles featured on this page were live at the time the articles were added. Some links may be broken if the original publication was either archived, changed or removed.