"Nicotine Bees" Population Restored With Neonicotinoids Ban
by Roberta Cruger, Los Angeles on 05.15.10
Following France and Germany, last year the Italian Agriculture Ministry
suspended the use of a class of pesticides, nicotine-based neonicotinoids,
as a "precautionary measure." The compelling results - restored bee
populations - prompted the government to uphold the ban. Yesterday, copies
of the film 'Nicotine Bees' were delivered to the US Congress explaining the
pesticide's connection to Colony Collapse Disorder. Despite the evidence,
why does CCD remain a 'mystery' in the US?Nicotinyl pesticides, containing
clothianidin, thiametoxam and imidacloprid, used to coat plant seeds, are
released into the lymph as a permanent insecticide inside the plant. But
after just sucking dew from maize leaves that absorbed neonicotinoids,
disoriented bees can't find their way to the apiary. Massive numbers of bees
get lost and die.
In 2009, Italy's neonicotinoid-free corn sowing resulted in no cases of
widespread bee mortality in apiaries around the crops. This had not happened
since 1999. The European Research Center, Youris, reported that Moreno
Greatti, from the University of Udine stated, "Bee hives have not suffered
depopulation and mortality coinciding with maize sowing this year.
Beekeepers from Northern Italy and all over the country are unanimous in
recognizing that the suspension of neonicotinoid- and fipronil-coated maize
Although varroasis (infections from mites) and other pathologies are found
at other times of the year, suspending neurotoxic insecticides improved the
situation significantly. Francesco Panella, President of the Italian
Association of Beekepers, says: "On behalf of beegrowers working in a
countryside dominated by maize crops, I wrote to the Minister of Agriculture
to confirm the great news, for once: thanks to the suspension of the
bee-killing seed coating, the hives in the Po Valley are flourishing again."
Not true in Southern Italy, where bee mortality was high in citrus groves,
which were sprayed with neonicotinoids, also used in vineyards and other
crops. The new law has been challenged by the agrochemical industry but the
Italian government upheld the ban.
Want to eat?
With pollination responsible for one-third of our food supply, the loss of
30% of our bee population prompted the Pollinator Protection Campaign by the Sierra Club. It bought 333 copies of Nicotine Bees which were delivered to Congress on May 13 and 14, along with 50 more from the filmmakers, with
a letter from the National Honey Bee Advisory Board. The American Beekeeping Federation and American Honey Producers Association are asking Congress to stop the threats from systemic pesticides to food supplies, honeybees and pollinators. Send a copy to the other 152 members of Congress by contacting the Sierra Club's bee campaign.
The bees steep decline in 2005 and 2006 was catastrophic around the world.
In theUK bee numbers have been halved over 20 years, with reasons including the pesticide and warmer winters due to climate change. Honeybee pollinated fruit trees and crops in Britain amount to £165m annually, so a campaign to grow bees in city gardens and roofs has been an attempt to halt decline.
Despite the scientific data, reports still claim the reason for the bee
crisis is unclear, even blaming cell phones. So what's really holding up the
banning of neonicotinoids? As a beekeeper in the documentary says, "A fifth
grader can figure this out."