Posts Tagged ‘neonicotinoids’

Another alarmist meme bites the dust – UK study shows neonicotinoids don’t harm honey bees

November 2, 2015

The EU is almost a perfect example of an organisation which makes all its actions subservient to fear (which also happens to be my definition of cowardice). They banned neonicotinoids two years ago as a result of alarmist hype about their feared catastrophic effects on honey bees. It seems the fears have probably been grossly exaggerated.

HCJ Godfray et al, A restatement of recent advances in the natural science evidence base concerning neonicotinoid insecticides and insect pollinators, Proceedings Royal Society B

Farmers Weekly:

Honeybees are avoiding any significant damage from neonicotinoid insecticides according to an academic review of all in-field research carried out so far.

With the European Commission’s two-year ban on neonicotinoids to be reviewed soon, and new trial data about to be published, a number of academics were asked to study the current data.

“The evidence so far points to a lack of effect on honeybee colonies from neonicotinoids,“ Professor Charles Godfray, Oxford University Professor of Entomology, told a news briefing. He and his colleague Prof Angela McLean were two of the academics asked by the UK’s chief scientific adviser, Sir Mark Walport, to review the data as the European Commission (EC) considers whether to extend the ban.

The EC imposed a ban in December 2013 on three neonicotinoids that were used as seed dressing on bee-attractive crops such as oilseed rape, due to their perceived harmful effect on bees. Prof Godfray said although there was no field data so far to show neonicotinoids had any effect on honeybee colonies, a Swedish study led by Dr Maj Rundlof had shown they have a harmful effect on bumblebees.   ……

He and Prof McLean are members of the Oxford Martin School, a research arm of Oxford University, and they were asked to review more than 400 scientific papers on the topic. Prof McLean said they looked to act as an “honest broker” to give a summary.

The EC ban covers three neonicotinoids – clothianidin, used in Bayer CropScience’s Modesto, thiamethoxam, used in Syngenta’s Cruiser, and also imidacloprid.

The seed dressings were used to control cabbage stem flea beetle and without the treatment, 3.5% of the nation’s oilseed rape crop was lost to the pest in autumn of 2014, according to an AHDB survey.

This season, growers in four flea beetle hotspot counties – Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire – were allowed to use neonicotinoids on up to a maximum of 30,000ha or about 5% of the national crop.

The UK government has always opposed the EC ban, as has the agrochemical industry, which has agreed to fund an independent trial run by the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, due to be published before Christmas.

The summary of recent evidence surrounding neonicotinoids and bees is published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

I note also the statement by the authors in their paper that:

An analysis of the historical shifts in the ranges of European and North American bumblebees showed that they have failed to track climate warming at their northern range limits, while southern range limits have contracted.

They wouldn’t be able to track a non-existent warming now, would they?

Is the “bee crisis” yet another alarmist fiction?

September 9, 2013

I don’t really know a great deal about bees. I have been stung by bees twice in my life. I was not threatening them in any way and both paid the price of their insolence and died. Every year we have ” a lot” of bees in our garden where ” a lot” is my subjective assessment of the number of times I have to swat them away or have to move while dozing in the sun. I have not noticed any great difference – this summer – in the number of bees that I have “interacted” with. I am well aware that they play a very important  (but not indispensable) role in pollination and I do like honey even if I have to watch my sugar intake.

In the last year or so I have been bombarded with articles greatly alarmed about the catastrophic decline of honey bees and strident calls  – especially in the over-bureaucratic EU – for the banning of various pesticides (neonicotinoids) which are decimating the bee population.  A new “syndrome” has been invented – Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). The UK has not gone along with the ban so far.

“The two-year European Union ban on neonicotinoids was justified as a way to tackle CCD. It is perhaps worth pointing out that France banned the neonicotinoids in the 1990s, and it has seen no marked reduction in CCD.”

But it could all be just another case of what may well be a perfectly “natural” variation being blown up by alarmist environmentalists. I am coming to the view that every time an “environmentalist” invents a new catastrophe it is just to inflate the importance of his own advocacy.

Bjorn Lomborg writes:

There is no bee crisis

Contrary to what you may have heard, there is no “bee-pocalypse.” There is lots of alarmist talk about colony collapse disorder, people are blaming pesticides and talking about hundreds of billions of dollars at risk. But a closer look tells a very different story.

Yes, honeybees are dying in above-average numbers, but the most likely cause is the varroa mite and associated viruses.

Moreover, if you look at the actual numbers, they undermine much of the catastrophic rhetoric. In the United States, where we have good data, beekeepers have adapted to CCD. Colony numbers were higher in 2010 than any year since 1999. The beekeepers are not passive victims.

Instead, they have actively rebuilt their colonies in response to increased mortality from CCD. Although average winter mortality rates have increased from around 15 per cent before 2006 to more than 30 per cent, beekeepers have been able to adapt to these changes at fairly low cost and to maintain colony numbers.

Honeybee deaths are also nothing new. The Breakthrough Institute reports that, in 1853, Lorenzo Langstroth, the 19th-century bee-keeper who invented the modern hive, described colonies that were “found, on being examined one morning, to be utterly deserted. The comb was empty, and the only symptom of life was the poor queen herself.” In 1891 and 1896, large clusters of bees vanished in a case known as May Disease.

In the 1960s, bees vanished mysteriously in Texas, Louisiana and California. In 1975, a similar epidemic cropped up in Australia, Mexico and 27 U.S. states. There were heavy losses in France from 1998 to 2000 and also in California in 2005, just two years before CCD was first diagnosed. ….

…… Many have pointed toward pesticides as the main reason of colony collapse disorder. The two-year European Union ban on neonicotinoids was justified as a way to tackle CCD. It is perhaps worth pointing out that France banned the neonicotinoids in the 1990s, and it has seen no marked reduction in CCD.

Recent science articles instead point clearly to mites and viruses: “Varroa mites and viruses are the currently the high-profile suspects in collapsing bee colonies.”

Overall, the CCD is a problem we need to tackle, but it is not by any stretch of the imagination as bad as it is made out. …. 

CCD – it seems – may be an over-exaggerated and alarmist figment of an over-fertile “green” imagination.

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